Mayor de Blasio Urges Albany to Pass Three New Traffic Laws
In March, Mayor de Blasio appeared at the 78th Precinct in Park Slope, his home precinct, to announce he was seeking action in Albany on three pieces of legislation aimed at the specific circumstances of a horrific crash less than two weeks earlier in that neighborhood. On March 5, Dorothy Bruns, 44, had a seizure at the wheel and drove through a red light, killing two children and seriously injuring their mothers. Her doctor had urged her not to drive for at least a year because of repeated seizures, including one that led her to crash into a parked car. Ms. Bruns has been charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless driving. But the mayor was more concerned with preventing future tragedies than he was with litigating the past.
According to the city’s website, the mayor is asking Albany legislators to pass three new laws that would:
- Expand use of speed cameras in school zones — The mayor wants to double the number of school zones that have cameras and install them where they’ll have the biggest impact protecting kids. The current law limits the locations where municipalities can put cameras around schools. The mayor says, “We need to be able to put the cameras where the NYPD and the Department of Transportation know they will do the most good.” De Blasio cited traffic statistics showing that speeding declines by more than 50 percent in areas that have speed cameras, with a marked decline in pedestrian injuries as a result.
- Increase penalties for drivers and owners of the cars cited for speed and red light violations — The mayor wants to see higher fines for repeat offenders as well as suspended registration for cars that repeatedly violate the law.
- Require doctors to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles about patient conditions that could affect their driving ability — The most controversial of the proposals would require doctors to cooperate with the government, revealing confidential medical information their patients might not want released. The mayor insisted he intends the law to be narrowly tailored: “We…want to focus on people who may have a condition that causes them to lose control of the car. We’re not talking about people with everyday medical conditions. We’re not talking about people who are disabled.” Specifically, the law would be restricted to situations where “a doctor identifies a special condition like a propensity to seizures that could cause someone without any warning to be unable to control their car.” Currently, New York State allows doctors to alert the DMV about such conditions, but there is no legal requirement to do so.
The mayor stressed that he wants these proposals to be passed in the current legislative session, by June.
At Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson, we believe the mayor’s proposals have merit, and we hope the legislature will give them proper consideration and act responsibly to pass laws that protect pedestrians. We agree with the mayor when he says, “We can’t accept a reality where it is normal for someone to kill a pedestrian with their vehicle. We just can’t let that be anything we regard as normal in our society. For too long people would negligently kill another human being with a vehicle and essentially walk away. We’ve got to end that once and for all.” As advocates for victims of motor vehicle accidents throughout greater New York, we agree the time has come to demand better. The safety of residents should be city government’s greatest concern. Let’s hope that the state government shares that viewpoint.
Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson represents victims of motor vehicle accidents in the greater New York City area. If you have been seriously injured, trust us to aggressively pursue justice for you. To schedule a free consultation, call 888.746.8212 or contact our firm online.