When Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected in New York City, one of the things that he promised was safer streets for pedestrians. He introduced Vision Zero, an initiative to reduce traffic fatalities in the city to zero. The program called for adjustments to traffic lights and intersections to make them safer for pedestrians. In 2018, it seemed that the effort was successful as pedestrian fatalities dropped. Those numbers surged in 2019, with dozens of pedestrian fatalities and bicyclist fatalities more than doubling over 2018 rates. The increase in the number of accidents involving pedestrians has caused advocacy groups to call for safer streets, as the Brooklyn Reporter reports.
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At a press conference held outside P.S. 185 in Bay Ridge on February 28th, State Senator Andrew Gounardes promoted the bills he is sponsoring that promise to crack down on dangerous drivers and make New York streets safer for pedestrians. It was the words of victims, however, that appeared to have the most effect.
Debbie Herndon, a member of the group Families for Safe Streets recounted being struck by a car four years ago. She was struck as she crossed the street in Kensington.
She also counted that there have been 39 New Yorkers killed in crashes so far this year.
Gounardes supported the legislation that he is promoting at the rally. The announcement came after the deaths of six pedestrians in five days on the streets of New York.
He has introduced three bills aimed at combating pedestrian accidents. The first is the Dangerous Driver Act, which would clarify traffic laws, making it easier for district attorneys to charge drivers involved in accidents that cause injuries.
The second bill would expand laws making every intersection, marked, or unmarked, as a designated crosswalk. The measure has been adopted in Oregon, Washington, and Georgia. It has been shown to raise driver awareness and reduce pedestrian fatalities.
The final bill would create a pedestrian safety rating for all vehicles. The vehicles would be rated according to how likely they are to cause injury or death to pedestrians and others on the roadway.
In 2019, there were 219 traffic deaths in New York City. In NYPD Brooklyn South, there were 7,916 collisions, the most of any patrol borough.
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