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4 deaths quickly follow mayor’s vow to improve NYC street safety

New York City earned its reputation as “The City That Never Sleeps” the hard way. As residents seem to be in continual motion, thousands of buses, taxis, trucks and emergency vehicles pose a constant hazard to each other and to the city’s many pedestrians and bicyclists.

In mid-January, Police Commissioner William Bratton and other city officials joined Mayor Bill de Blasio to forge a plan designed to drastically reduce traffic deaths. However, in the days following, three pedestrians and one bicyclist died in separate auto accidents. Among those who died was a woman who was struck and killed while crossing a street in Queens. The driver was arrested for driving with a suspended license.

Mayor de Blasio characterized the ongoing problem with traffic fatalities as an “epidemic.” In a city where drivers are notorious for driving aggressively, jaywalking is also a major factor in many accidents, according to a police department spokesperson. Although the weekend’s four fatalities do not necessarily predict the rate of the city’s traffic deaths for the year, the spike alarmed residents and city officials. 

Commissioner Bratton stated that he intended to bolster accident investigations, despite difficulties presented by the state Court of Appeals in terms of prosecuting drivers.

Families who lose loved ones to car accidents may find the punishments handed down to the at-fault driver to be inadequate when compared to the family’s hardship in the wake of the crash. Families faced with this situation may want to consider seeking legal assistance to obtain compensation for medical expenses and to replace the victim’s lost income. A wrongful death lawsuit may also provide some sense of justice after a fatal crash for which no one was criminally charged.

Source: The New York Times, “Four Traffic Fatalities in Two Days As Mayor Vows to Make Streets Safer,” J. David Goodman, Jan. 19, 2014

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