Council Approves Sweeping Package of Traffic Safety Measures

What the new traffic safety laws say
May 29, 2014 Updated: May 29, 2014

The City Council passed a sweeping legislative package on Thursday aimed at improving traffic safety.

Last year, 286 pedestrians died in vehicle crashes.

Mayor Bill de Blasio convened several of the city’s agencies to devise a plan to reduce pedestrian deaths to zero—an initiative called Vision Zero.

The Council’s approval of this package of bills, 11 in total, is the biggest concrete milestone for Vision Zero since the mayor launched the initiative on January 15.

Below are details on the 11 bills. They become law after the mayor sings them.

1. Cooper’s Law
Cooper Stock, a nine-year-old boy, was struck and killed by a taxi driver while legally crossing the street with his father. The taxi driver who killed Cooper failed to yield. Months after Cooper’s death, the taxi driver still has a valid license. Cooper’s Law will mandate the Taxi and Limousine Commission to suspend the license of any taxi driver in crash involving critical injury or death, until an investigation into the crash is completed. If the driver is convicted of any traffic violations as a result, his license will be suspended permanently.

2. Taxi Crash Investigations
This bill is a companion to Cooper’s Law and will require the Taxi and Limousine Commission to investigate all serious crashes involving critical injury or death. In addition to reviewing the police report, the commission will also have to investigate whether the driver is fit to operate a taxi.

3. Taxi Driver License Suspension
Taxi drivers who accrue six or more point on their driving record within 15 months will have their taxi license suspended for up to 30 days. Taxi drivers who accrue 10 or more points will have their licenses suspended.

4. Slow Zones
The city will have to establish 50 school slow zones per year where the speed limit will be 20 mph. These slow zones will have to be equipped with traffic-calming measures, like speed bumps. In addition, the city will have to establish seven slow zones per year in areas of the city not necessarily adjacent to schools. The bill will also reduce the speed limit to 25 mph on one-way, one-lane highways.

5. Pedestrian Right of Way
Any driver who interferes with a pedestrian’s right of way at an intersection will be punishable by up to 15 days in jail or $50. If the vehicle makes contact with the pedestrian, the punishment increases to up to 30 days in jail and $250. This law takes effect 60 days after the mayor signs it.

6. Stunt Behavior
Stunts like wheelies, donuts, and burnouts will be illegal three months after Mayor Bill de Blasio signs this bill. First time violators will face fines of up to $600 and six months in prison. Subsequent violations can cost daredevils up to $1,000 and one year in prison.

7. Repair of Traffic Lights
The city will have to repair or replace all broken traffic lights within 24 hours of being notified about the problem.

8. Study on Arterial Streets
The city’s arterial streets—wide fairways with heavy volumes of traffic—account for 60 percent of pedestrian deaths while making up only 15 percent of all roadways. The Transportation Department will have to conduct a study of arterial streets and how to improve pedestrian safety on them.

9. Taxi Crash Reporting
The Taxi and Limousine Commission will have to report all crashes involving taxis to the City Council every three months. The reports will have to detail the kind of taxis involved in the crashes as well as whether anyone has been hurt in the crash, in addition to other information.

10. Study on Left Turns
The Department of Transportation will have to conduct a study on improving the safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at intersections where vehicles make left turns. The department will particularly focus on how the design of streets and sidewalks can be change to minimize the risk of injuries and deaths at these intersections.

11. Workplace Safety on Bridges
The commissioner of the police and transportation department will have to issue guidelines by the end of this year on improving workplace safety in bridge construction zones. These may include speed radar screens and other measure to increase safety in the work zones.

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