A new report compiled by Transportation Alternatives highlights the need for serious reform in the way the NYPD investigates crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists. According to analysis of crashes in New York City from 1995 to 2009 for which the data is available, 60% of fatal pedestrian and bicyclist crashes are caused by illegal driving behavior. Another statistic provided by the report also suggests that the NYPD's priorities are misplaced: in 2011 the police handed out four times as many tickets for tinted windows as it did for speeding.
“This report makes it crystal clear: lawbreaking drivers are responsible for the majority of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in New York City,” Paul Steely White, TA's Executive Director says in a release. "There needs to be an overhaul of the NYPD’s traffic enforcement practices to make sure the police protect New Yorkers from the lethal danger of lawbreaking drivers.”
That overhaul was the subject of a press conference held by a group of City Council members last month announcing a proposed Crash Investigation Reform Act, which would create a task force to review current AIS policy and recommend changes.
At present, the NYPD has 19 detectives assigned to the AIS division, which only investigates crashes where a pedestrian or cyclist has died or is likely to do so. One of the several resolutions proposed by the City Council members under the Reform Act would force the AIS to investigate all accidents that involve serious injury, in addition to extending investigations to incidents that involve no contact, and training at least five officers in every precinct to investigate serious crashes.
Between 2001 and 2010, drivers killed 1,745 pedestrians and cyclists in New York City. In New York State from 2001 to 2009, more people were killed by drivers than as a result of gun violence. But in 2011 the NYPD handed out more citations to cyclists than they did truck drivers.
“The Crash Investigation Reform Act will make sure the NYPD is doing everything it can to hold lawbreaking drivers accountable for their lethal behavior,” White says. “New Yorkers deserve nothing less.” Apparently Mayor Bloomberg doesn't agree: when questioned about the NYPD's methods of investigating traffic crashes by Capital's Dana Rubinstein, Bloomberg replied, "You know, you can't please everybody miss, I'm sorry. Let's get to real questions. This is not a q-and-a for just, somebody who has something to say and get you some air time. I'm sorry, this is not what we're gonna do."
You can read the entire report below.