While traffic fatalities have plunged in recent years, a New York City resident is killed every 33 hours in a car accident, according to a shocking new report.
The Transportation Alternatives report, “The Enforcement Gap: How the NYPD Ignores What’s Killing New Yorkers,” says that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to reduce traffic deaths could be a lot more successful if police would spend more time enforcing traffic rules.
However, citing statistics showing vehicular deaths falling to levels not seen in a century of automobile history, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly dismissed concerns that traffic rules are not sufficiently enforced.
“Traffic fatalities are down 30 percent since 2001 and at the lowest level in a century of record keeping,” said NYPD spokesman John McCarthy. He said that there was 50,000 fewer collisions per year since 2002.
Meanwhile, New York police, in conjunction with Councilman David Greenfield, are planning a crackdown this week on drivers who illegally pass school buses that are stopped to pick up or discharge students along busy avenues in Boro Park, Midwood and Kensington.
“Drivers who will speed past a stopped school bus and endanger the lives of our children just to save a few seconds are incredibly reckless and must be ticketed by the NYPD,” said Greenfield, a Brooklyn Democrat. “This is especially true here in our community, where the streets are filled with children heading to and from yeshivah each day.”
Starting Wednesday, officers from the 66th Precinct will be out in force to catch drivers who illegally pass a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and stop sign extended while picking up or dropping off children. A similar effort was undertaken last year.
Greenfield also introduced a City Council bill to install cameras on school buses to catch offenders. Currently, a ticket can only be issued if a police officer witnesses the violation. Greenfield also wants a shift from less serious violations like tinted windows to dangerous moving violations like speeding.
In September, the NYPD issued just 134 tickets in the entire city for backing up unsafely, 330 for unsafe lane changes and 390 for improper U-turns, compared to 10,067 seatbelt violations and 6,038 infractions for tinted windows that month alone.
Fines for illegally passing school buses in New York State start at $250. While the NYPD issued 3,000 such summonses last year, education and transportation officials estimate that 50,000 vehicles illegally pass school buses each day around the state.
According to the CDC, children are more likely to die from traffic injuries than any other cause. Nearly one in five traffic deaths are among children ages 14 and under.