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City Council Passes ‘Reckless Driver” Bill

Photo: NYC.gov

Feb. 12, 2020 By Kristen Torres

The City Council passed landmark legislation Tuesday that would force drivers who rack up tickets for running red lights or speeding to take a traffic safety course– or else risk getting their car impounded by the Sheriff’s Office.

Council Member Brad Lander, who represents parts of western Brooklyn, sponsored the bill that would require drivers who get more than five red light camera violations or more than 15 speed camera violations in a year to take a defensive driving course mandated by the Department of Transportation.

Drivers who fail to complete the course would have their vehicle seized by the city.

Lander said the bill, informally referred to as the Reckless Driver Accountability Act, was inspired by a 2018 crash where a woman with a history of reckless driving ran a red light and killed two children in Park Slope.

“When Abigail Blumenstein, 4, and Joshua Lew, 1, were killed by a driver with a history of speeding and running red lights right outside my office two years ago, we pledged to do something to intervene with the most reckless drivers before they kill or injure any more of our neighbors,” Lander said in a statement.

A previous version of the bill was much tougher, requiring drivers with with five or more red light or speeding tickets to undergo the course. However, this would have snagged nearly 26,000 drivers—a number too high to manage. The current version is expected to a affect 5,000 drivers city-wide.

“The reason for the lower number of covered vehicles, though, is really a combination of our belief in a restorative justice approach—to repair harm and help people change—and [the] need to run the program effectively, so we can prove it works,” Lander wrote in a tweet last week.

Research by the city’s DOT revealed a correlation between frequent red light and speed camera violators and injury-related crashes.

The bill’s passage comes after a deadly year for drivers and cyclists across the city– with 220 people killed in 2019, up from 204 in 2018. The number of cyclists killed tripled last year, with 29 fatalities.

“Passing this bill is a major step forward in this Council’s fight for safe streets,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.

“We should be proud of our efforts to make this law a reality, and we will continue to build on this success in our ongoing fight for a city where people don’t have to live in fear of death or injury from cars.”

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8 Comments

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a

I’m all for suspending license for reckless driving, but taking someones property and forcing a course that has no real chance of improving the offender’s driving? Re-education camps and gulags are next and are just about as useless.

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Sara Ross

What about pedestrians who cross against lights or in the middle of the block against the light? As a driver and walker, vehicles can’t stop on a dime. Enough with the bike lanes. They don’t support the city or state, yet money from drivers pays for the bike lanes, including repairs of the lanes and putting in new ones.

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They don’t support the city or state?

I own a bike so I don’t have to pay taxes?! Nobody told me!

Roads don’t generate magic money. I don’t own a car and I pay for your roads…

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Joe Zullo

The tougher, previous version of the bill, which was referred to in the article, would have been preferable. I trust that violators will have to pay for the mandatory “traffic safety course”.

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Ali. Abdalkwy

City Council is out of Smart I. D. To make it better so he’s coming up To punish the driver Lol. Just look Around you. How much Busy traffic and the cars parking in the middle in the street I believe this is create more problems

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Anon

🎉THANK YOU!!!🌈
GOD BLESS politicians who finally want to keep our neighbors, visitors & children alive & safe!!!!💞 Best St.Valentine’s gift for us NYers!!!💖Maybe now I don’t have to tell my voice raw when a car tries to turn us into roadkill…. Cars impounded also helps the environment, less pollution, frees up parking, and if you charge them fees makes $$$$ for NYC infrastructure. Those who use our roads should build our roads but safely. Astoria has ALOT of reckless drivers, the city may have to rent or build a parking lot to impound all those “beauties”😇. Safe streets a fantasy come true. Now if only we could get Stop & frisk back with cop patrols, we maybe able then to call Astoria safe again! A step in the right direction.Thanks Again!

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Someone who isn't renting a car

This actually sounds pretty great to me. I would hope it isn’t just limited to speed camera catches but also includes being pulled over for speeding as well.

My only concern on the matter is what about people who may rent cars from something like zipcars or those smart cars you can pick up anywhere? You can’t seize those so what could you enforce against them?

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