As part of his Vision Zero plan, Mayor de Blasio announced a comprehensive legislative reform agenda. This agenda takes a holistic approach to traffic safety, by allowing the city to establish safer rules for use of the street system (e.g. lower speed limits), enabling the city to adopt more effective approaches to the enforcement of traffic laws, giving the courts more effective standards to consider in holding reckless drivers accountable for their actions, and ensuring that large vehicles using city streets incorporate new safety features.
Make Queens Safer endorses this agenda and urges the entire Queens delegation in the NYS Senate and the NYS Assembly to work for its passage.
In the near term, we are tracking progress on a few key pieces of legislation. These are:
20 MPH Speed Limit / Home Rule Powers for Speed Limits in NYC
A.8478, introduced by State Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, and S.6496, introduced by State Senator Martin Dilan, would reduce the official speed limit in the city of New York to twenty miles per hour, except where a different speed is determined appropriate by the City Council and is indicated by an official sign. This legislation will make a significant difference for street safety in New York. While not all drivers will obey the new limits, prevailing speeds will decline, many lives will be saved, and countless injuries prevented or reduced. According to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles:
- If someone is hit by a car going at 40 mph, there is a 70% chance that person will die
- If someone is hit by a car going at 30 mph, there is a 20% chance that person will die
- If someone is hit by a car going at 20 mph, there is a 2% chance they will die.
Furthermore, slower speeds give both pedestrians and drivers significantly more time to react, reducing the number of crashes that happen in the first place. This bill is the top priority of pedestrian safety advocates citywide, and we call upon the Queens delegation to take the lead on ensuring its passage.
Crackdown on Drivers with Suspended Licenses
Two Queens legislators, State Assemblymember Margaret Markey and State Senator Mike Gianaris have introduced important bills that would impose tighter penalties on chronically reckless drivers. The bills were introduced following the recent deaths of an 8-year-old boy in Woodside, Noshat Nahian, and a 68-year-old woman in Maspeth, Angela Hurtado, both by drivers with suspended licenses.
- The first bill (A.8587/S.6386) make it a felony to cause serious physical injury or death to another person, while operating a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license, or if he or she is unlicensed.
- The second bill (A.8586/S.6385) would require a person with a suspended or revoked driver’s license to surrender registration certificates and license plates for all motor vehicles registered under his or her name.
Senator Gianaris has estimated that ten percent of all crashes in New York are caused by drivers with suspended or revoked licenses. Some 75 percent of drivers with suspended licenses are believed to continue to operate motor vehicles. Make Queens Safer urges passage of these bills.
Speed and Red Light Enforcement Cameras
Automated enforcement is effective at deterring drivers who recklessly speed and run red lights on city streets, and essential to improving pedestrian safety in the city. Currently, the State Legislature has granted the City of New York extremely limited authority to use this important law enforcement tool, strictly limiting the number of cameras, hours of operations, and locations where they can be used. Make Queens Safer strongly believes that expansion of the cameras programs and wider latitude for implementation of the programs is essential. So far, a bill to address this has not emerged in the state legislature, but recent comments by political leaders suggest that one could emerge soon. MQS urges the Queens delegation to cosponsor these bills and work for their passage.