Albany Pols blocks on package of bills to make roads safer


Albany served nothing for dessert.

The Senate and Assembly transport committees both adjourned for the year without passing a vital set of eight safety bills, dubbed the Accident Victims’ Rights and Safety Act, leaving it looming large doubts that one of the security measures will be taken before the end of the legislative session in June. ten.

The failure of Assembly Transport Committee Chairman William Magnarelli to move the package was particularly shocking to street safety advocates, as the committee’s final hearing on Thursday addressed just two issues. : a bunch of street name changes and a pilot truck weight study for the Brooklyn-Queens freeway.

Magnarelli, a Democrat from Syracuse, declined to comment for this story.

Meanwhile, Magnarelli’s counterpart in the Senate, Tim Kennedy of Buffalo, also laid down his hammer without moving the package either.

His committee’s apparent final meeting on May 19 addressed important issues and name changes, but also Kennedy’s own bill to establish a “Hyperloop and Bullet Train Commission” . (Kennedy declined to comment for this story, but a staff member told Streetsblog that the senator hopes to pass the legislation in the future.)

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who is sponsoring one of the security bills, does not want to wait until the legislature returns next January.

“What are we doing? Are we going to wait another six months?” Asked Hoylman, whose bill would allow the city not to need state approval for limit reductions. The bill is named after Samuel Cohen Eckstein, a 12-year-old boy who was killed in Brooklyn in 2013. “Senators who do not represent New York City do not understand, but they should defer to them. Colleagues: Albany’s control over such fundamental issues as speed cameras and speed limits is clearly intended to benefit motorists at the expense of the safety of our pedestrians.

His colleague, Senator Andrew Gounardes of Bay Ridge, was also frustrated.

“I don’t see the reason for the delay,” said Gounardes, who is sponsoring six bills in the “common sense” package.

Experts say there is still hope that the bills in the package can be adopted before the June 10 deadline if the committees meet again. Marco Conner DiAquoi, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, said Sammy’s law was supported only by Magnarelli, and not by opposition to the proposal, which enjoys broad support from the public and Mayor de Blasio, who has asked for its adoption at the funeral last month for NYPD officer Anastasios Tsakos, who was killed by a drunk driver.

“The only reason it’s not adopted is because Magnarelli isn’t talking about it,” said DiAquoi. “Only inaction would kill this bill. New York City wants Sammy’s Law. The mayor wants it.

Only one of the bills – which creates new requirements for driver training (S1078A) – passed one of the required two chambers of the state legislature.

The remaining invoices are:

  • Sammy’s Law (S524A / A4655) would allow the city to lower its speed limit without state approval.
  • The “rule of two” for dangerous driving (S7894 / A8881A) would clarify existing law to allow prosecution of drivers for committing a movement violation instead of requiring two wrongdoing such as speeding, driving red, a failure to yield, etc. also replace “reckless” with “dangerous” in “reckless driving” so that prosecutors only have to prove a driver deliberately committed an act of violence with a car.
  • The Vehicle Safety Rating (S4307 / A575) would require the state DOT and the state Department of Motor Vehicles to create a safety rating system to assess the risk that a motor vehicle poses to road users. vulnerable road, and would require that such ratings be posted at point of sale and on a government website. There is no safety rating system for the risks a vehicle poses to people outside of a car, which are particularly serious for large, heavy vehicles. In New York City, 25 of the 29 cyclists killed in 2019 were killed by drivers of large trucks, buses, SUVs or vans.
  • Improved safety radars (S5602 / A6681) would allow New York City to use 24/7 safety radars, increase penalties for extreme repeat offenders, including license suspension, and allow for share speeding records with auto insurance companies.
  • The Traffic Victims Bill of Rights which gives victims of traffic accidents rights like those in the Federal Traffic Victims Rights Act, including the right to receive accident reports and the right to attend hearings related to the accident and submit impact statements. It would also require the state to report data on compensation and support for accident victims, including no-fault insurance and private insurance.
  • Lowering blood alcohol content to 0.05 (S131 / A7197) would reduce the blood alcohol concentration limit for driving from 0.08% to 0.05%, as drivers are likely to have impairment at current level. The bill has been introduced in every session since 2013.
  • A safe passage for cyclists (A547) would provide a clear objective definition of what a “safe distance” is for motorists when passing cyclists on the road (at least three feet), provide an accountability mechanism for motorists. following an accident and would promote a safer driving culture through education. There does not appear to be a Senate version of this bill at this time.

Support for Sammy’s law is widespread, Streetblog reported. Transportation Alternatives provided a poll by Emerson College, which found 72% of city voters answered yes when asked, “Are you in favor of giving New York City local control to lower the limits?” speed in certain residential streets? Only 19 percent opposed it. And 68% of New Yorkers said they “would personally like to see the speed limit reduced from 25 to 20 miles per hour on residential streets.” Only 31 percent opposed it.

In a final push for the legislative package, supporters gathered at City Hall grounds with a coffin filled with flowers, candles and shoes depicting the victims.

Earlier this week, the symbolic casket traveled to Albany.  Photo: Fiifi Frimpong
Earlier this week, the symbolic casket traveled to Albany. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong

The rally came after a 1,000-mile trip by activists across the state to mark the number of people who have died on the streets of the state each year. At the launch of the four-day trip, the activists were joined by Dr Nicholas Gavin of the Presbyterian Hospital in New York, who is supporting the program because he believes it will help stem the tide of blood that emerges every day to his emergencies.

“Right in the building behind us, we see a dozen people a day who are victims of pedestrian and bicycle crashes,” said Gavin, who joined members of Families for Safe Streets outside on Tuesday in Washington Heights, where activists have started a final statewide push for the package. “All of these problems come to our front door every day.”

“If we’ve learned anything from Covid-19, we’ve learned that systems lead to results and politics are good for results,” Gavin said. “We need to have the same level of focus and energy on the pandemic that is affecting our streets, resulting in traffic violence that results in preventable deaths.”

Gavin, an emergency doctor, is just the latest frontline worker to partner with Families For Safe Streets in the hope of preventing these too preventable accidents.

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