Assemblyman Ortiz Calls for Inquiry and Decisive Action to Protect Pedestrians & Cut Carnage on the Streets of Our City

November 10, 2003
In reaction to the tragic evidence revealed in Sunday’s New York Daily News cover story "Licensed to Kill," Assemblyman Felix Ortiz is calling for an immediate and complete state level review of the present circumstances which have left hundreds dead over the last several years alone, and clearly an absence of justice for victims and their loved ones.

Assemblyman Ortiz, who previously led the fight to pass the New York State law banning the use of hand held cell phones by drivers, reflected upon reading the story as follows:

"…this is a wholly intolerable situation. Something must be done, and done quickly, to enhance the protection afforded pedestrians on the streets of our city and to ensure that drivers are properly punished. We must review the adequacy of the tools presently available to our police officers, prosecutors, and judges and empower them with the ability to ensure that drivers are properly punished when their unsafe driving causes harm to others.

Assemblyman Ortiz recalled that when he began his push to prohibit the use of hand held cell phones by drivers, "we hadn’t had this level of attention on the problem." He went on to say that he believes that with the advent of the publication of this story, he’ll be able to quickly garner sufficient support from his colleagues in the state legislature to expeditiously investigate the shortcomings in the present system and gain passage of the necessary measures that will provide increased protection to pedestrians and provide justice to victims and their families.

In calling for the creation of a blue ribbon specially empanelled legislative committee to hold public hearings to investigate this crisis in pedestrian safety and to consider modifying the present statutory framework to better empower the judicial system to appropriately handle these cases, Assemblyman Ortiz believes that he and his fellow state legislators should:
  • Complete a thorough review of such traffic related deaths with particular consideration given to the facts of each case and the ultimate judicial disposition of each case;
  • Review the tools presently available to the police in investigating these incidents and inquire of the police, prosecutors, and the judiciary what they believe they would need to improve their ability to better assess each case and enable them to reach a just and equitable resolution in these tragic situations;
  • Evaluate the impact of the "Rule of Two" and determine, what if any, amendments of the present statutory scheme are needed to remedy the present injustice being foisted upon victims and their loved ones as a consequence of these sorts of incidents;
  • Finally, make recommendations regarding enforcement policies and development of driver education campaigns that will serve to make sure that motorists follow the traffic laws and, in general, drive more responsibly and are swiftly and appropriately punished when they fail to do so.

According to Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, "We need to act deliberatively, but quickly, to give the judicial system the tools to remedy the injustice inherent in the present situation. It is clear that lives of New Yorkers are depending on it."

Assemblyman Ortiz will be calling for public hearings to be held to fully discuss this issue and work towards a solution to this problem.