In the wake of a series of pedestrian fatalities, Mayor de Blasio has ordered immediate changes to improve traffic safety, and directed the DOT, the NYPD, and the TLC to provide a "blueprint" for eradicating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by the year 2024. "We think there is an epidemic here, and it can't go on," the mayor said at a press conference in Woodside, just a block away from where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed last month walking to school. "I said on inauguration day that we were here to make changes, and I meant it."

The immediate changes include utilizing six speed cameras the city has installed as soon as Thursday, and increasing enforcement of serious traffic violations by increasing the number of personnel in the NYPD's Highway Division.

Previously there were 180 members of the Highway Division; now there are 210, and that number will increase to 270.

The public report is to be released by February 15, and will include "concrete plans" to deter dangerous driver behavior, like speeding and failure to yield, improve conditions at 50 targeted "dangerous corridors and intersections annually," increase 20 mph safe zones, and pursue a legislative agenda that would allow New York to install red light and speeding cameras without legislation in Albany. 

"We need many more," de Blasio said of the speed cameras. "Wherever data shows where they will make our streets safer. We have to protect our people." The city has the legal capacity to install just 14 more. A group of state Republican lawmakers have resisted the cameras, and been intransigent in their opposition.

The intersection where Noshat Nahian was killed in Woodside (Gothamist)

Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bratton, and incoming DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg spoke to reporters while standing next to Nahian's family, and the families of others who had loved ones lost in traffic fatalities.

When asked if he thought there should be more criminal charges against drivers involved in traffic fatalities, the mayor said that while he wasn't a lawyer or a law enforcement expert, "I do by definition think there are more cases that deserve those charges."

Commissioner Bratton said that improving the department's success rate with respect to prosecution drivers "is a matter of evidence. Collecting the appropriate evidence within the existing laws...Strengthening our investigative capabilities, responding to more of these incidents, with evidence [the DAs] can then use to have more significant prosecutions and penalties."

Mayor de Blasio also added that he was "not satisfied" with laws that currently make it difficult to prosecute motorists for reckless or negligent driving, but declined to say how he would press the issue to state lawmakers.

Bratton said that the quality of police investigations would improve by increasing the number of Collision Investigation Squad investigators to 27, not including six supervisors. CIS members will also attend a crash investigation course taught at Northwestern University, and be given more modern equipment.

"Last year the department issued 83,000 summonses for speeding, we expect this year to increase even further," Bratton said, adding that 24 laser radar devices had been purchased, and that speed enforcement would be stressed in "all precincts."

"We also need to work on pedestrian education," Bratton said, pointing out that many traffic-related injuries and fatalities involve decisions made by pedestrians. After Bratton alluded to looking at increased enforcement for jaywalking, the mayor stressed that the focus was on education, not enforcement.

Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said that he was extremely heartened by the changes the de Blasio administration was instituting, but added that he was hoping for more speeding enforcement on city streets and not just highways, and for the administration to make NYPD Traffic Stat meetings open to the public.

"They're just not conducted with much rigor, the way CompStat meetings are," White said.

A woman crossing Northern Boulevard where Nahian was killed said she had been told by her supervisors at nearby PS 152 not to speak to reporters, but changed her mind after being asked about whether she felt pedestrian safety was a major issue in the neighborhood.

"The traffic here? It's terrible!" she shouted over the roar of the cars. "All you got to do is look at this street."