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On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

A new study by Transportation Alternatives, a pedestrian and cyclist advocacy group, has determined that illegal driving behavior is involved in the majority of fatal accidents between vehicles and cyclists or pedestrians.

Study Finds Majority of Fatalities Preventable

The Transportation Alternatives study found that between 2001 and 2010, over 1,700 pedestrians and cyclists were killed by cars in New York City. In 36 percent of these accidents, the driver involved was breaking a traffic law at the time, such as texting or speeding. The study also explains that 60 percent of these deaths could have been prevented with improved law enforcement.

The NYPD's Actions are Inadequate

Of New York City's 30,000-strong police force, only 19 detectives are trained to investigate crashes between vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists. As more and more people use bikes to navigate the city, these types of accidents have become increasingly common. The NYPD has not been able to keep up with the increased need for police investigations of these types of accidents.

The 19 detectives who can investigate accidents between vehicles and pedestrian or cyclists are members of the Accident Investigation Squad (AIS). Since so few officers are trained to serve on the AIS, the 19 detectives typically only investigate accidents that have caused a fatality or accidents where one party is severely injured and doctors expect to perish soon. All other accidents, including those where victims are seriously injured, go uninvestigated.

The lack of an adequately trained police force allows many at-fault drivers to avoid the consequences of their actions. New York recently enacted Elle's Law, which penalizes drivers who hit a pedestrian while driving recklessly with a six-month license suspension. However, this law is sometimes not enforced because the police are ill-equipped to investigate these types of accidents.

Furthermore, state courts have dismissed nearly 50 cases brought against at-fault drivers, deeming any evidence other than the eyewitness testimony of a police officer inadequate to prove a driver caused the accident and the victim's injuries. These decisions have set a precedent that makes it difficult for injured parties to hold responsible parties accountable.

Legislators Call for Reform

Now, state legislators would like to create a 14-member task force to review current NYPD traffic crash investigations. The task force would include representatives from the NYPD and the District Attorney's office. After reviewing current policies, the task force would make recommendations on how to improve the department's practices, including changes to current law.

Until these changes are made, however, pedestrians and cyclists in New York City will likely continue to be denied proper justice. If you have been injured by a driver while walking or biking in New York and the police refuse to investigate the accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your options.

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