NYPD Doesn’t Want to Track NYC’s 38,000+ Annual Hit-and-Run Crashes

There have been 38,000 hit-and-run crashes in NYC so far this year, 4,000 of which injured people, the NYPD revealed at today’s City Council transportation committee meeting. Of 48 recorded “catastrophic” hit-and-run incidents, resulting death or serious injury, only 28 have led to prosecutions of any sort.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer has introduced bills to increase civil penalties for repeat offenders and require NYPD to release more information about the results of hit-and-run cases. NYPD Inspector Dennis Fulton expressed support today for the former but not the latter.

Van Bramer said that increasing civil fines for repeat offenders could discourage dangerous driving by partly addressing the “perverse incentive for drunk drivers to flee the scene.” Currently, criminal penalties for fleeing the scene are less severe than the ones for drunk driving. City legislation can’t address that flaw — only Albany can (and Albany’s attempts have gone awry). But the city can adjust civil penalties.

In the case of repeat hit-and-run offenders, the bill would establish fines of “up to $1,000 if property damage results from the incident; $2,000 to $5,000 if a person is injured; $5,000 to $10,000 if there is a serious injury; and $10,000 if death results.”

Fulton was on board with that, but he opposed another bill requiring NYPD to include statistics regarding civil penalties in hit-and-run cases in its quarterly reports to the Council, saying the department lacked the “technical ability” to track details of hit-and-run incidents citywide.

In 2014, the City Council passed a law requiring NYPD to provide quarterly reports on hit-and-run incidents, but Fulton said that specifics that could be helpful in guiding preventive practices — such as time of day and location — are currently only tracked at the precinct level.

“Notwithstanding these potential [technical] challenges, we welcome the opportunity to work together on this legislation,” Fulton said in his statement to the committee. But Van Bramer and other council members were unimpressed by NYPD’s efforts to hold hit-and-run perpetrators and repeat offenders accountable. According to Fulton, of the 38,000 total cases, only 480 drivers were arrested and another 475 received moving violations.

Council Member Jimmy Vacca expressed frustration with NYPD’s admitted shortcomings in tracking hit-and-run statistics. “Is this the only area where we have these gaps? We are told that crime is down, we are told that there is reporting accuracy, yet today there was a gap that was identified,” he said. “I would like to know whether or not that’s more prevalent.”

Today’s hearing confirmed what advocates have been saying about hit-and-run crashes for years: They are an epidemic. In an interview with Streetsblog this afternoon, Van Bramer said that while he knew hit-and-run incidents posed a major safety concern, he was “stunned” by the numbers disclosed at the hearing. “I don’t believe anyone has heard of that number in a public forum before today,” he said.

Calling the technological shortcomings “shocking” and “disappointing,” Van Bramer said the NYPD’s testimony reaffirmed the importance of both proposed bills. “We should compel the NYPD to come up with the technology that makes this possible,” he said. “The commissioner and his team should be able to do it.”

  • walks bikes drives

    How hard is it to have an administrative assistant in each precinct update a google doc spreadsheet every month? Come on people, we don’t need a multimillion dollar system to track simple statistics.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    You do when your no-goodnik can’t Keep a job nephew, lil’ Murph, needs a multi-million Consulting gig

  • BBnet3000

    I knew hit and runs are an epidemic, but these numbers are really something.

  • Jonathan R

    Well, 34k were crashes that didn’t injure people. I presume that includes scratched paint, broken mirrors, dented bumpers etc. Car owners call it in to the cops to generate a police report and an insurance claim.

    If the police got out of the business of responding to property-only crashes (presumably the insurance companies would have freelance adjusters on call instead), these wouldn’t even be listed as crashes.

  • walks bikes drives

    From personal experience, NYPD will not make a police report for a vehicle that was hit when parked UNLESS an officer witnessed the collision. A beer truck smashed the front fender of my car, and a witness left their name, phone number, and plate of the truck. NYPD refused to do anything about it. Our insurance had to track them down and got the company to pay for the repairs. NYPD came out when I called them and said they wouldn’t even file a report. Went to the precinct and pushed for it, but got no where. So, if you they are not including these hit and runs in their numbers, the actual number must be even higher!

  • Kevin Love

    Kill someone and it is a measly $10,000 fine? What an insult.

    How about the fine for killing someone being set at a nice round $1 million. And if the government seizing all the killer’s assets does not net that amount, then the killer’s wages will be garnished until every penny is paid.

    Perhaps that would be a deterrent.

  • Guest

    Just as shocking as the sheet number of hit-and-run crimes is the fact the NYPD has so little shame admitting it is incompetent to track crimes!

  • Guest

    *sheer*

  • c2check

    It’s strange we ignore so many hit-and-runs likely caused by speeding and reckless driving, while refusing to take the necessary steps to slow speeds with things like traffic calming measures like curb extensions, and narrower lanes—because someone might hit something, as if they aren’t already.
    (see: NYC “Slow Zone” signs: http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/02/04/to-fend-off-motorist-complaints-dot-pushes-slow-zone-signs-to-sidewalks/)

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Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Ydanis Rodriguez have introduced a bill that would impose civil penalties for hit-and-run crashes. Intro 371 would attach escalating fines, based on injury severity, for violating Section 600 of the state traffic code, which deals with leaving the scene. Fines would begin at “not more than” $250 for drivers […]