Council Members: If Only There Was Some Way to Deter Reckless Driving

Yesterday the City Council held a hearing on street safety for older New Yorkers. The hearing came while the deaths of Lillian and Peter Sabados, an elderly Staten Island couple run down by Allmir Lekperic on Thanksgiving eve, are still fresh in people’s minds. But when it comes to keeping drivers like Lekperic from harming others, The Staten Island Advance reports, some of the borough’s council reps seem to think they’ve exhausted their options:

"You do everything you can, but at some point,
it’s out of our hands," said City Councilman James
Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn). "There are people who put
their keys in their car and believe the road is theirs, and
they don’t care what consequences that means for you or
I or anyone else.

"Frankly, it’s a surprise we haven’t had
even more fatalities, when you think about all the times we
see people driving recklessly in this borough."

Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore) agreed with his
colleague. "It’s sad we have to turn to
traffic-calming devices to protect people from reckless
drivers," Ignizio said.

Lest the council members forget, Lekperic was a known public menace before he killed the Sabadoses, racking up 29 license suspensions. Yet thanks to a legal system rife with loopholes and light penalties, he could keep on driving. It may be up to Albany to change these laws, but Oddo, Ignizio, and the rest of the City Council could help set the agenda. Earlier this year, the public safety committee, chaired by Peter Vallone, Jr., turned down the chance to pass a resolution telling state legislators that loopholes enabling deadly driving must be closed. Both Vallone and Oddo are co-sponsors of Resolution 145, which specifically calls for measures to keep unlicensed drivers like Allmir Lekperic off the road.

It’s also worth noting that Oddo and Ignizio haven’t shown much care for safer street design either. They last appeared on Streetsblog clamoring for the removal of bike lanes in their home borough.

  • There needs to be a taskforce organized including everyone from legislators, DMV administrators, insurance companies, District Attorneys and Police enforcement representatives. Society should treat driving licenses as a true priviledge, not a right

  • J. Mork

    Perhaps he meant “it’s sad that we won’t turn to traffic-calming devices to protect people from reckless drivers.”?

  • In Police Chief Magazine I found a nice article about how to use impoundments to stop people from driving with suspended licenses. Apparently Fontana, CA is at the forefront of this kind of police work. During a two-year grant program in the early 2000s, they impounded almost 11,000 cars, or 80 cars per 1,000 residents. The idea I liked best is this:

    # Courthouse sting operations: During a courthouse sting operation, a plain-clothes officer sits in the courtroom during traffic court. When a person comes into court and pleads guilty to driving without a license or with a suspended license, the officer gives the person’s description to uniformed officers outside the courtroom. If the person then attempts to drive away from courthouse, the uniformed officers stop him or her and impound the vehicle. These operations target the most serious offenders—those who have multiple counts of driving without a license.

  • The stats in Jonathan’s article show a very strong correlation between “DWU” (“driving while unlicensed”), crashes, and in particular, hit-and-run activity (DWU motorists 60+ times more likely to engage in hit-and-run, for obvious reasons).

    A campaign to target the DWU population for law enforcement and enhanced penalties makes perfect sense and should succeed–who is going to stick up them? Shouldn’t DWU be treated just as seriously as DWI?

  • Wow, the officer who came up with the “courthouse sting” idea deserves a medal. What was his or her name, Captain Obvious?

  • christine

    What a missed oportunity ! all of Streetsblog readers could have marched and testified at city Hall…

    I favor the creation of penalties for DWD

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

What Does It Take to Keep a Reckless New York Driver Off the Road?

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We heard the question more than once. When it was reported that Allmir Lekperic, the unlicensed driver who killed Peter and Lillian Sabados as they walked to Thanksgiving Mass on Staten Island last Wednesday evening, had racked up some 29 license suspensions since 2006, Streetsblog readers wondered: How is this guy not behind bars, much […]

Ignizio: NYC Should Tell Drivers Where It’s OK to Run Reds

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You’ve got to hand it to City Council Member Vincent Ignizio: If nothing else, the man is consistent. Ignizio has a long history of opposing measures to make streets safer and improve transit. The Staten Island rep’s greatest hits include a proposal to subject NYC bike lanes to environmental review, killing the bike lane on Father Capodanno […]