Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on on a concept “vision zero” — the idea that traffic deaths are preventable, and can and should be eliminated entirely in New York — and yesterday, he unveiled some of the steps his administration will take to try to make it a reality.
The NYPD’s Highway Division will grow under de Blasio and Commissioner Bill Bratton, from 220 to 270 officers. Bratton said he the department will investigate serious crashes more robustly, but hedged a little, maintaining that “criminality” must be present in order to make an arrest. Surveillance, unfortunately, will be beefed up as well, with drivers who are caught speeding by traffic cameras getting tickets (previously, you would only get a warning). De Blasio also said he’d urge collaboration between the Department of Transportation and NYPD.
Last month, we reported on the “Vision Zero Clock,” a website created by the activist group Right of Way to track whether de Blasio is on course to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024. “Achieving Vision Zero by 2024 demands decisive action starting on day one,” Right of Way’s Keegan Stephan said in a statement at the time. “There will obviously be many competing interests for de Blasio’s attention when he takes office, but with people of all ages being killed in traffic across the five boroughs nearly every single day, Vision Zero must remain a top priority. Mayor de Blasio must take every step possible to achieve it.”
So far, he’s lagging a little on his goal: the city has seen seven pedestrian deaths and four driver/passenger deaths in 2014 — ie., the last two weeks — alone.