Will Peter Vallone Go Where James Vacca Fears to Tread?

Peter Vallone Jr.

The Village Voice reports that Peter Vallone, chair of the City Council’s public safety committee, is planning a hearing on traffic enforcement.

Responding to the Transportation Alternatives probe into how NYPD handles crash investigations, announced after a year that saw reckless motorists face little to no repercussions for taking lives, Vallone said, “They have some legitimate concerns. Clearly, more has to be done.”

Accepting Vallone’s statement at face value — that his committee will indeed focus on pedestrian and cyclist safety, rather than personal gripes — this is welcome news. Here are a few questions we’d like to see the Vallone committee ask the brass at NYPD:

  • Is the Accident Investigation Squad dispatched to all cases involving death or serious injury? If not, why not?
  • Why must victims’ families resort to the courts to obtain information pertaining to fatal crashes?
  • Why isn’t NYPD making use of new state laws intended to hold dangerous drivers accountable for injuring and killing vulnerable street users?
  • Does NYPD track rates of traffic violations, the same way it tracks other crime? If not, why not? If so, where is the data?

With mainstream media outlets picking up the story of Mathieu Lefevre’s family suing to get information from NYPD, and papers including the Voice questioning how so many deaths and injuries can go unpunished, might the council finally be ready to address the shortcomings of the city’s traffic justice system? We’ll see if Peter Vallone will pick up the slack for his colleague James Vacca.

  • Juan from TA

    How about some applause for the Chairman for pledging to look into these issues? 

    We’ve known for a long time that basically every driver who causes a fatal crash will be allowed to drive away scot-free, as long as they are sober and remain at the scene. Even if they were speeding, even if they were driving backwards, they will never be charged with a criminal offense, and probably won’t even get a ticket. 

    Vallone, with this hearing, can demand that the PD change that. If Vallone does, he’ll be a hero in my book. I personally can’t wait for this hearing to take place. 

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I hope Vallone shocks me and follows through, big win for both he and the citizens if he does.

  • Call Vallone and say thank you for finally standing up to this! and let him know we’re all gonna hold him to his promise.  718-274-4500

  • JK

    Yes, thank and encourage CM Vallone, and remind him that Council oversight hearings have played a key role making NYC streets safer dating back to Sheldon Leffler’s Public Safety Committee in the early 1990. That Committee’s work — and a spate of outrageous pedestrian and cycling deaths — led to changes in state laws which permitted scofflaw motorists to have hundred of license suspensions. The Committee continued to push the cops on traffic safety throughout the next decade. Under Vallone, the Public Safety Committee hasn’t been as energetic on traffic safety. It’s good CM Vallone is doing his job. It’s his job to do his job.

  • Joe R.

    In the end, it’s really the culture at the NYPD which has to change. All the laws in the world are meaningless if the police refuse to enforce them. The NYPD is reluctant to take action against aggressive motorists because they’re among the worst offenders in that department. Just yesterday I saw a police cruiser burn out from an intersection, and nearly hit another car exiting the parking lot at the police station. No, they weren’t on call. And I regularly see police cars pass red lights when not on call. I normally wouldn’t care much about that except far too many don’t even bother slowing down to check for cross traffic.

    Bottom line is I won’t hold my breath seeing any major changes until there is a large percentage turnover in the police department, plus a major attitude shift on top. It would also help remove “windshield perspective” if there were more foot and bike patrols. When police see first hand how dangerous conditions often are for pedestrians and cyclists, they might be inclined to occasionally enforce laws. I’d personally like to see fewer BS tickets for things like not wearing a seat belt, or going 10 over the limit at 11 PM (late nights are about the only time police ever seem to give speeding tickets, even though that’s the time speeding is least dangerous), and more tickets for stupid, aggressive driving (i.e. jockeying for position at intersections, failing to yield when turning, driving in bike lanes, speeding when streets are busy, etc.). I’d also like to see a state law where if you’re caught driving without a license, your vehicle is forfeited and auctioned off. That to me seems like the only way to get unlicensed motorists off the roads for good.

  • Anonymous

    Paco and I think alike.  I called Vallone earlier to thank him.  It takes a lot of nerve to stand up to the NYPD, and I hope that encouraging Vallone prior to the hearing will embolden him further.  His staffer couldn’t tell me when exactly this hearing will take place, but I’m hoping it will happen soon.

  • Ben from Bed Stuy

    I’m going to call Vallone’s office and congratulate him for standing up for safety.

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