Preventing Vehicle Collisions
New York City’s fast-paced lifestyle may have proven too chaotic as reports show bicycle- and pedestrian-related deaths on the rise for the first time in six years. Bicyclists were most affected as a result, suffering nearly three times as many fatal accidents with vehicles. City officials say large trucks are to blame for most of these accidents due to both their velocity and their large occupancy of traffic lanes. While the city has invested over $58 million in larger bike lanes, intersection safety, and street redesigns, they have also created a new unit of law enforcement designated to help prevent these kinds of accidents.
Known as the “Vision Zero Unit,” this new 100-person unit will be focused on drivers who speed, fail to yield, drive drunk, or fail to give adequate space to cyclists, pedestrians, and buses at stops where passing occurs. Ideally, this new unit will result in more citations for motorists, especially truck drivers. Critics of the new plan, however, worry that it could result in more citations for cyclists; they received more moving violations than large trucks in 2019.
How the New Laws Affect You
For motorists throughout New York City, the laws will still largely remain the same: give cyclists and pedestrians the space and respect they deserve. In addition, though, motorists may be seeing more traffic cameras that can photograph their license plate if they are caught speeding or running a red light—two offenses which disproportionately result in cyclist and pedestrian fatalities.
Other new laws aim to put more focus on giving the right of way to cyclists and pedestrians, assessments for taxi and limousine drivers who are involved in accidents, and more protections for cyclists who use their bicycles for work. Failure to obey these laws will result in fines and possible jail time.
Who Is Affected by Vision Zero?
One surprising statistic is that traffic fatalities have reduced significantly since before this new initiative. Fewer auto passengers and motorcyclists have been involved in deadly accidents since de Blasio took office. This stands in stark contrast to the soaring rates of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, and these new laws will likely affect drivers more than anyone else.
As the primary culprit, large trucks are likely to experience greater scrutiny by law enforcement. The growth of the online delivery industry has resulted in a far higher frequency of large trucks operating on the road—vehicles that cause the most catastrophic injuries when involved in an accident.