James and Lancman Push for Driver Alert Tech on City Vehicles

A new City Council bill would require crash avoidance technology on at least 100 city-owned vehicles that alerts drivers before a collision occurs, and potentially applies brakes to prevent a crash.

The legislation, sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Rory Lancman, would require a one-year pilot program on 100 vehicles in the city’s 28,000-car fleet, followed by a study on its cost and effectiveness at reducing crashes.

The technology includes cameras for improved driver visibility or warnings to drivers of pedestrians or cyclists in their blind spots. It can also alert drivers and apply emergency braking in advance of potential rear-end collisions, which comprise almost one in three crashes in the city fleet that result in injury.

There are 85,000 government employees with access to city-owned vehicles. Last year, non-NYPD drivers were involved in 5,805 collisions resulting in 584 injuries, including 49 crashes that injured pedestrians and 15 that injured bicyclists.

“Everyday New Yorkers are still at too high a risk of being killed or seriously injured by a motor vehicle,” James said in a press release. “Every year, there are thousands of collisions involving City drivers that end up costing lives and millions of dollars. We must examine every possible avenue to reduce crashes, which is why we must examine and test collision avoidance technology that could help save lives and taxpayer money.”

During fiscal years 2007 through 2014, there were 1,213 pedestrian personal injury claims filed against the city, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer. Taxpayers shelled out $88,134,915 during that period for pedestrian injury cases.

On Wednesday, James and Lancman demonstrated the collision avoidance systems with representatives from Mobileye and Rosco Vision Systems, which manufacture the technology. It costs up to $1,500 for most cars and up to $10,000 for large vehicles like buses, according to the Daily News. The city is already testing out the technology on 10 trucks and vans in fleets serving five agencies.

In addition to city-owned vehicles, other fleets are experimenting with similar technology.

In April, the Taxi and Limousine Commission launched its own one-year pilot of data recorder and driver alert technology. As of June, a total of 10 taxis and for-hire vehicles have had technology installed from three participating vendors: IonFleets, Datatrack247 and Mobileye [PDF].

The MTA is also examining the installation of driver alert and crash avoidance technology on its buses, as well as external audible alarms to warn pedestrians that a bus is nearby. “We’ll have more to say in the coming weeks,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

The technology is strongly backed by the union representing bus drivers. “TWU has urged the MTA to deploy accident-prevention technology, including pedestrian warning alerts, and will continue to do so,” TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said in a statement. “We can all agree that common-sense safety upgrades, including the elimination of bus operator blind spots, are long overdue.”

  • Brian Oconnell

    I’m not sure that alerting pedestrians that a bus is near would have much effect. We know busses are nearby, but we expect them to obey the laws.

  • Andres Dee

    We already have devices that warn drivers that there are walkers, cyclists and motorists in the road…they’re called “eyes”.

    I was out walking yesterday and noticed a “for hire” car with a smartphone attached to the “a pillar”. Perhaps motorist excuses for left hooking cyclists and walkers would be more credible if motorists focused on what’s on the other side of the “a-pillar” instead of on the gadgets attached to them.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

TLC Puts Data Recorders and Cameras in 10 Cabs for Safety Tech Pilot

|
The Taxi and Limousine Commission officially launched a pilot program Tuesday that outfits TLC-licensed vehicles with electronic equipment intended to promote safe driving. For the Vehicle Safety Technology Pilot Program, TLC installed data recorders, driver alert systems, and cameras in 10 TLC-licensed vehicles, including yellow taxis, green cabs, and livery cabs. Based on the TLC press release, it seems the […]

TA Will Track Safety Policies of NYC’s Private Fleet Operators

|
Transportation Alternatives is calling on private fleet operators who do business in New York City to talk about what they’re doing to make employees safer drivers. “Fleet management is one of the most effective ways to reduce injuries and fatalities on New York City’s streets,” said TA Executive Director Paul Steely White in a press release. “Fleet managers set […]

New Report Breaks Down Crashes Involving City Agencies, Except NYPD

|
A new report sheds light on the extent to which drivers working for city agencies are involved in traffic collisions [PDF]. But the picture is incomplete: NYPD, the agency involved in the most pedestrian injury claims, is withholding its crash information from the city’s database. Excluding the police department, drivers of city-owned vehicles were involved in eight of the 250 traffic fatalities in New […]