Squadron-Kavanagh Bill Garners Support at City Council Hearing on NYPD Accident Response

Squadron, Kavanagh testify on new legislation to crack down on careless driving
State legislators praise Chairs Vacca and Vallone for leadership on road safety
February 15, 2012

New York – Today, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh testified at the New York City Council's joint hearing on Transportation and Public Safety, where their new legislation to crack down on careless driving garnered committee support. The hearing examined the New York Police Department's response and enforcement of traffic laws relating to cars, bikes, and trucks.

Last week, Senator Squadron and Assemblymember Kavanagh announced new legislation to strengthen 'Hayley and Diego's Law' (Vehicle and Traffic Law 1146) and crack down on careless driving. At today's hearing, Public Safety Chair Peter Vallone, Jr. and Transportation Chair James Vacca announced a City Council resolution in support of the new Squadron-Kavanagh legislation.

The legislators introduced VTL 1146 after the tragic deaths of Hayley Ng, 4, and Diego Martinez, 3, who were killed in 2009 in Chinatown when a delivery van that was left in reverse jumped the curb and hit the children. The law became effective in October 2010 and imposes stiffer penalties on drivers whose failure to exercise due care results in the injury or death of pedestrians or bicyclists. The penalties for the first offense include a $750 fine, 15 days of jail time, participation in a driver safety course, suspension or revocation of the driver’s license or registration, or any combination of these penalties, and a misdemeanor charge on a second offense.

However, police officers in some jurisdictions believe that the law does not permit them to issue a VTL 1146 violation unless they personally witness the accident. This drastically limits the ability of an officer to issue a violation in accidents that are clearly the result of careless driving. The new Squadron-Kavanagh legislation – S6416 / A9219 – makes the authority to enforce the law explicit, even if the officer was not present at the time of the crash, as long as the officer has reasonable cause to believe the violation was committed by the driver.

"We believe that providing law enforcement with this additional tool is one of the surest ways to hold careless drivers accountable for their dangerous behavior. This new legislation will make our original law more effective by ensuring that officers will issue a violation when careless driving warrants one," Senator Squadron and Assemblymember Kavanagh testified.