NY Lawmakers Dither While New Yorkers Die Preventable Traffic Deaths
(Hell Gate)

NY Lawmakers Dither While New Yorkers Die Preventable Traffic Deaths

New York is "moving in the wrong direction" when it comes to traffic fatalities, plus more links to start your week.

On the evening of July 4, a man drove his Ford pickup truck into Corlears Hook Park on the Lower East Side, hitting a group of people at a barbeque

Lucille Pinkney, 59; her son Herman Pinkney, 38; and Ana Morel, 42, were all killed. Another person remains in critical condition. 

One of Lucille's former coworkers at the McDonald's on 14th Street called her "the sweetest person." "[She was] always greeting patrons with a smile and remembering their orders and things like that," Tom Hickey told EV Grieve. "Lovely, lovely woman."

The driver, 44-year-old Daniel Hayden, was charged with vehicular homicide, manslaughter, assault, and DWI; police told ABC News that Hayden was denied entry for a cruise at nearby Pier 36 because he was too drunk, and the criminal complaint states that Hayden was driving with a suspended license. The truck also had temporary tags from 2017 and New Jersey license plates in the windshield, according to a video of police towing it from the park. Hayden, who reportedly works as a substance abuse counselor in New Jersey, has pleaded not guilty.

After years of gains in preventing traffic violence, the first quarter of 2024 was the deadliest on New York City's streets since 2014, the year the City started its Vision Zero program. Statewide, traffic fatalities are at their highest level in a decade, according to a report titled "Moving in the Wrong Direction" issued by New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli last month. 

Source: New York Comptroller's Office

These deaths are preventable. Yet when it comes to passing laws that might save lives, New York's lawmakers continue to fail New Yorkers.

This year, after four years of debate, the state legislature finally passed Sammy's Law, which allows New York City to lower its speed limits down from 25 mph, but not before the bill was watered down to exclude many roads outside of Manhattan. Red-light cameras, which can only exist in New York City with Albany's permission, were renewed, but a planned expansion to 1,325 intersections was also cut back to 600 new intersections. Why? 

More massive loopholes for dangerous drivers the state legislature refuses to close: New York drivers can rack up as many speed and red-light camera tickets as they want without receiving points on their licenses, so long as they pay the fines. A City-run program that was supposed to address this issue and tow repeat offenders sputtered out. New York traffic law states drivers can't park next to crosswalks and intersections and block pedestrians' line of sight, except in New York City, where drivers are allowed (via a carve-out) to flout this requirement. Again, what is the point?

What about limiting drunk driving—shouldn't that be easy to reach consensus? The state comptroller's report recommends that New York become the second state in the country to lower the legal blood alcohol level for drivers from 0.08 to 0.05. When Utah did this in 2017, fatal crashes decreased by 20 percent in the first year. 

Last year, some New York lawmakers proposed a bill to do the same. So far, it has failed to get out of committee.

More links to read while you mutter imprecations about our elected officials:

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