Liu’s Office Outlines Benefits of Investigating All Serious NYC Traffic Crashes

John Liu’s office recently published a brief analysis of the newly-expanded NYPD Collision Investigation Squad. Liu has already proposed increasing the number of NYPD crash investigators, and now Doug Giuliano, senior policy analyst for the comptroller’s office, has put up some more numbers that illustrate how woefully inadequate CIS staffing is.

With 19 investigators, in 2011 the AIS investigated 304 of the 3,192 fatal or serious collisions, for a rate of 16 cases per investigator. At this rate, the AIS would have been only able to review an average of eight percent of the average 3,629 cases per year. With the addition of 10 investigators, the CIS can now review about 13 percent of serious and fatal incidents — an improvement, but still not enough.

To investigate an average of 3,629 serious and fatal accidents each year, the NYPD would need 227 investigators.

Giuliano estimates that it would cost about $12 million to hire 198 additional crash investigators, enough to “review every fatal or serious injury crash.” That figure does not include overtime and other costs associated with an increase in staffing levels, nor does it take into account the potential benefits of investigating all serious crashes. The city could save millions in civil payouts if more evidence were gathered from crash sites, Giuliano says, and more crash site data could be used to improve safety.

“Finally, and most important, more than 13 percent of victims and their families deserve to know the circumstances of fatal and serious crashes,” writes Giuliano. “Expanding the CIS would not only bring peace of mind, but also the evidence necessary to secure justice.”

  • Anonymous

    This report from Liu’s office is, or should be, a big deal.

    Just a 10% reduction in crash settlement payouts by NYC could pretty much pay for the roughly ten-fold expansion of the CIS needed to investigate all serious-injury (plus fatal) crashes, according to the report.

    But the report begs the question of why 19 CIS staffers can investigate only 304 crashes in a year. That’s 16 crashes per staffer — 3 weeks of work for one staffer to analyze/report on one crash. That’s nuts.

    The Liu report is a great start. Too bad it didn’t (evidently) look into the CIS’s low productivity.

  • Detective work is fairly involved, unless it is done too hurriedly. I’d say it takes 2-4 staffers up to 10 days to thoroughly investigate a serious accident with casualties, including forensics analysis, collection of surveillance evidence, interviews and interrogations, paperwork… it really adds up.

    This is a question we should pose to CIS – what would a case study for a typical traffic casualty investigation look like, broken down by how many distinct roles and manpower hours are needed?

  • Joe R.

    Cameras at every intersection could remove the need for a lot of crash investigation. It should be obvious in most cases just looking at the footage who was at fault. If the intersection has traffic signals, you could overlay the current state of the signals on the video.

  • Isaac B

    How about the following simple solution. In any crash where the driver says “I didn’t see him/her”, immediate alcohol and drug test, arrest for refusal. Immediate license suspension, someone else drives home or the car is towed. Full medical/neurological workup to rule out neurological/visual impairment before being allowed to drive again.

  • Anonymous

    The NTSB just sent a huge team of investigators to the SFO airline crash where only 2 people died. Maybe we need the NTSB to start investigating traffic crashes, where the body count is A LOT higher.

  • OneCity

    I love how there are very little comments when Liu supports a cause you all do.

  • KeNYC2030

    Maybe forcing the NYPD to allocate appropriate resources to crash investigation will finally motivate it to get serious about violations like speeding that are causing those crashes.

  • Anonymous

    And subpoena cell phone records.

  • Kevin Love

    The real question is “How many lives will be saved if car drivers know that they can no longer get away with dangerous, negligent, reckless and aggressive driving”?


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