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Motorist Who Killed Phyllis Pitt “Most Likely” Not Cited for Careless Driving

11:41 AM EDT on June 5, 2012

A Brooklyn motorist who jumped a curb, fatally injured a pedestrian and crashed into a restaurant while attempting to park her minivan last week will likely not receive as much as a traffic ticket, according to NYPD.

Phyllis Pitt, 64, was walking on Flatbush Avenue near her Marine Park home at approximately 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, when the 75-year-old driver backed onto the sidewalk, striking Pitt and smashing through the front window of a McDonald's. Pitt, a popular school teacher and adjunct university instructor, was declared dead at Beth Israel Medical Center.

The driver, who reportedly confused the gas pedal with the brake, remained at the scene. According to an NYPD spokesperson, "no criminality is suspected." When we asked if any summonses were issued, the spokesperson did not have that information, but said, "Most likely there wasn't."

Based on the department's history of excusing motorists who injure and kill pedestrians, the spokesperson was probably right. State laws intended to hold drivers to a marginal standard of accountability after a crash have been on the books since 2010, but those laws go virtually unenforced by NYPD. In cases where a pedestrian or cyclist is killed, the driver has about a 50 percent chance of being cited under state vulnerable user laws. In cases of pedestrian or cyclist injury, the percentage of drivers ticketed for careless driving under VTL 1146 (the statute that includes Hayley and Diego's Law as well as Elle's Law) is negligible.

Phyllis Pitt was killed by a sidewalk-mounting motorist two days after it was reported that the City Council is planning to raise fines and possibly establish a squad of enforcement agents to discourage sidewalk cycling, and over three months after a council hearing on NYPD traffic enforcement and crash investigations drew scores of headlines but has so far resulted in no legislation to combat deadly driving.

This fatal crash occurred in the 63rd Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain John Rowell, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 63rd Precinct council meetings happen at 8 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Kings Plaza Mall Community Room. Call the precinct at 718-258-4444 for information.

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