Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is under criticism from transportation advocates for failing to hold accountable reckless drivers who kill people.
“They [police] are simply not taking that job seriously,” says Paul Steely White, executive director of the group, Transportation Alternatives. “Their cavalier attitude to the epidemic of lawless driving is absolutely unacceptable.”
During a rally at police headquarters, Transportation Alternatives this morning handed over a petition with 2,650 names demanding that Kelly “enforce traffic laws.” Between 2001 and 2010, 1,745 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in New York City traffic and 142,485 were injured–60 percent of fatal pedestrian and bicyclist crashes with known causes are caused by driver’s dangerous and illegal behavior, a TA analysis of state data showed.
Moreover, the TA says between 2000 and 2009, more people–including people in cars, bicyclists and pedestrians–were killed in traffic than murdered by guns, according to city Health Department figures.
What does that mean? Well, they are arguing that the police are wrong when they contend these are just accidents, that there are laws which can penalize reckless or careless drivers, but the NYPD just isn’t doing it.
“It’s a privilege to drive, and you have a responsibility to take that seriously,” says TA spokesman Michael Murphy. “Instead, the police have a tendency to blame the victim. But when you are speeding and you cause an accident, you broke the law.”
In October, for example, a truck driver killed Mathieu Lefevre at the intersection of Morgan Avenue and Meserole Street in Brooklyn. Even though the driver fled the scene of the crime, parked the vehicle a few blocks away, the NYPD did not charge him..
The group cited 14 other accidents in which drivers were reckless and injured or killed people, but no charges were filed. One of those was the case of Eric Bryant, who was driving 112 miles per hour, and bounced off the FDR Drive, landing on a taxi, injuring eight people.
The TA says it’s going to investigate how the NYPD investigates crashes.
The NYPD Public Information office, as usual, did not respond to requests for comment.