State Senator Daniel Squadron is co-sponsoring, along with Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, a bill in the state legislature that would increase the power of police to bring charges in cases where it is believed that careless driving has caused injury or death.
The legislators introduced VTL 1146 after the tragic deaths of Hayley Ng, 4, and Diego Martinez, 3, who were killed in 2009 in Chinatown when a delivery van that was left in reverse jumped the curb and hit the children. The law became effective in October 2010 and imposes stiffer penalties on drivers whose failure to exercise due care results in the injury or death of pedestrians or bicyclists. The penalties for the first offense include a $750 fine, 15 days of jail time, participation in a driver safety course, suspension or revocation of the driver’s license or registration, or any combination of these penalties, and a misdemeanor charge on a second offense.
However, police officers in some jurisdictions believe that the law does not permit them to issue a VTL 1146 violation unless they personally witness the accident. This drastically limits the ability of an officer to issue a violation in accidents that are clearly the result of careless driving. The new Squadron-Kavanagh legislation – S6416 / A9219 – makes the authority to enforce the law explicit, even if the officer was not present at the time of the crash, as long as the officer has reasonable cause to believe the violation was committed by the driver.
Meanwhile, reader “Boop” has given us (see this week’s OTW) a harrowing description of careless driving in our own neighborhood, in which, thanks to her quick response, tragedy was narrowly averted. Tuesday morning, she tells us, she was at the intersection of Pineapple and Henry when a woman driving a grey Audi Q7, who was looking down (texting?) and not at the road as she crossed the intersection, nearly struck a blind man whom Boop, who is in the late stages of pregnancy, was able to pull out of the way. Gothamist also has a piece on this issue.