Apr 19, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon
Society

New York City Cops Ignore State's Careless Driving Law, Most Drivers Who Hit Pedestrians Are Never Charged

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Thousands of drivers in New York City injure or kill pedestrians and bicyclists every year, but New York cops almost never charge them with careless driving, an investigation by a local online news site has found.

The locally-oriented site Streetsblog obtained data on how often the NYPD issues “careless driving” citations using a Freedom of Information request. Streetsblog reporter Brad Aaron then compared those numbers to the number of actual car vs. pedestrian/cyclist collisions occurred in New York City for a given time period.

What Aaron found is shocking. But first, a little background as to why.

In 2010, the New York state legislature enacted “Hayley and Diego’s Law,” a statute that established penalties for “careless driving,” that is, accidents resulting from driver negligence that does not necessarily involve impairment due to alcohol or drugs.

The law was named after preschool kids Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez, who were both killed in 2009 when a runaway van ran them down on a sidewalk as they returned from a preschool field trip with their class.

The van was double parked with the motor running as the driver got out, thinking he had left the van in “park.” He had actually left it in reverse. With no one at the wheel, the van sped onto the sidewalk, killing the two children and hurting 10 others.

The driver was not charged.

In response, state legislators Brian Kavanagh and Dan Squadron drafted the careless driving law that took effect in 2010. (Squadron is pictured above.)

But in 2012, though there were 14,327 incidents involving cars hitting defenseless pedestrians or bicyclists, the NYPD issued a scant 101 citations for careless driving, the Streetsblog investigation discovered.. That’s fewer than one citation for every 100 incidents.

And that 101 total was the most in the three years since Hayley and Diego’s law took effect. In 2010 the NYPD cited 99 drivers for failing to take due care in 13,892 incidents. In 2011 the number of incidents rose to 14,164 but the number of careless driving citations dropped to 87.

Either New York drivers are getting away with some seriously negligent driving, or they’re extremely careful but just really unlucky.

Actually, as Streetsblog found, the problem may be the fact that the NYPD actually forbids its patrol officers from pressing careless driving charges unless an officer has witnessed a crash first-hand. What is happening is that the NYPD has deliberately chosen to ignore the careless driving law.

“The promise of the law was that the driver who, while driving carelessly, killed or injured a pedestrian or bicyclist wouldn’t be able to leave without any consequences,” Juan Martinez, general counsel for the group Transportation alternatives, told Streetsblog. “Right now, if you injure somebody, unless you critically injure them, there’s no consequence. That’s not what legislators had in mind when they passed the law.”

SOURCES: Streetsblog, Epoch Times