Reckless Drivers Aren’t Waiting for Vance Vehicular Crime Reforms

cab_pedestrian.jpgTwo pedestrians were injured on the same Upper West Side block on Monday. Photo: Westside Indy

Traffic safety advocates were heartened last month by news that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will make good on his campaign promise to devote more resources to investigating acts of vehicular violence. Vance has also pledged to get behind legislation, like Hayley and Diego’s law, that would reduce the number of obstacles faced by law enforcement when seeking justice for those who have been injured and killed at the hands of reckless motorists. (We would add the proposed federal “black box” standard to the list of sorely-needed legislative actions.)

Even from the vaunted office of Manhattan district attorney, getting help from DC, much less Albany, will be a tough go. On the local front, reversing years of institutional neglect will take time, and will require cooperation from a historically intransigent NYPD. Meanwhile, as the events of this week attest, dangerous driving is still an urgent problem in Manhattan, with each pedestrian and cyclist casualty a sad reminder that much-anticipated reforms can’t come soon enough.

Below is a list of known Manhattan fatalities and incidents of serious injury in 2010 in which there was no sign that charges were, or would be, filed.

  • April 12: An unidentified pedestrian was killed at Delancey and Essex Streets.
  • April 14: A yellow cab driver injured a cyclist at 23rd St. and Lexington Ave. Witnesses said the cyclist “was not moving” after the crash.
  • April 27: Community Board 3 member Harry Wieder was killed by cab driver on Essex Street.
  • May 13: Cyclist Pilar Ortiz was seriously injured in a collision with an MTA express bus on Broadway between 13th and 14th Streets.
  • May 13: An unidentified elderly woman was thrown against a building by a curb-jumping livery cab driver at Broadway and 98th.
  • May 17: An unidentified cyclist was injured at Essex and Rivington. Despite published photos of police on the scene, NYPD told Streetsblog it had no information on the crash.
  • May 18: A truck driver hit an elderly woman at 83rd Street and Third Avenue,
    severing her leg. The driver was ticketed for four violations, but
    reportedly faces no criminal charges.

While we’ve seen a real commitment from Vance to turn things around, his office to this point has tended to keep crash information close to the vest. Three weeks ago we asked for updates on the above cases — we wanted to know what, if any, charges were filed, and if not, why not. We haven’t received an answer as of yet.

Streetsblog has requested information on two other Manhattan incidents. Days before Vance took office, on December 21, an unlicensed commercial driver killed a pedestrian as he walked on the sidewalk at Park Ave. and E. 50th Street. And there’s the case of Chao Fu, the delivery driver whose apparent negligence resulted in the deaths of Hayley Ng and
Diego Martinez
in January 2009. Though Vance has expressed his support for the law that bears the victims’ names, queries from Streetsblog about whether he intends to prosecute their killer have gone unanswered for months.

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