A new bill passed by the New York City Council puts the city’s Department of Transportation in charge of “all vehicle crashes involving significant injury” rather than the New York Police Department. The new legislation, Intro 224-A, creates a “crash investigation and analysis unit” within the DOT which will also be tasked to recommend “safety-improving changes to street design and infrastructure” and to publish its car crash analyses, according to StreetsBlog.
As StreetsBlog reports, transportation safety activists have spent years pressing for the changes enacted in the new bill. They’ve argued that the NYPD’s investigations tend to hold victims at fault for accidents and fail to publish reports that the public and policymakers can use to analyze car crash data. StreetsBlog itself has criticized the NYPD as “a bureaucratic, hidebound organization laden with costly layers of supervision and saturated, top to bottom, with a manifest bias against the most vulnerable road users,” noting that its Collision Investigation Squad officials do not testify publicly, and that the agency’s work only rarely leads to criminal prosecutions of people who allegedly engage in dangerous driving.
StreetsBlog reports that the new bill passed the City Council 39-10 and leaves the NYPD responsible for criminal investigations of alleged reckless drivers. It mandates that the DOT unit will publicly release information about car crashes and recommend street design and infrastructure changes as necessary. In a statement about the bill, street safety advocate Marco Conner DiAquoi told StreetsBlog: “This legislation will significantly improve how we approach crash investigations, how crashes are communicated to the media, how we better bring justice to survivors, and we applaud the council for passing it today.” Charles Komanoff, a street safety activist, added that the law will give New Yorkers “a shot at understanding exactly how traffic violence unfolds on our streets and sidewalks.”
More information about the transfer of authority over car crash investigations in New York City from the NYPD to the DOT is available via StreetsBlog.