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Brian Kavanagh

After Hearing, Vallone and Vacca Support Strengthening Careless Driving Law

This morning's City Council hearing on traffic crash investigations is already having an impact. Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Vallone, Jr. and Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca announced today that they will introduce a resolution in support of Albany legislation to make it clear that the police can enforce the state's careless driving law.

Right now, the NYPD isn't enforcing that law, which was named after toddlers Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez, killed in a 2009 crash in which a delivery van left unattended and in gear jumped a Chinatown curb.

Under current police protocol, only the citywide Accident Investigation Squad, a special unit called when someone is killed in a traffic crash or likely to die, employs Hayley and Diego's Law. At today's hearing, the NYPD said that the department has instructed regular cops not to issue tickets under Hayley and Diego's Law after judges threw out arrests where the officer didn't witness the violation directly.

The state legislation, sponsored by State Senator Dan Squadron and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, would make it explicit that police officers can issue tickets for careless driving without directly witnessing the violation.

"We believe that providing law enforcement with this additional tool is one of the surest ways to hold careless drivers accountable for their dangerous behavior," said Squadron and Kavanagh in a statement given to the Council today. "This new legislation will make our original law more effective by ensuring that officers will issue a violation when careless driving warrants one."

The Squadron/Kavanagh bill, which was only introduced last week, doesn't yet have any co-sponsors in Albany. If the City Council passes a forceful resolution in support of the legislation, however, that could prove a good kickstart to the bill.

We'll have more on today's hearing later today.

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