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NYPD to Crack Down on Reckless Drivers After 12 Pedestrians Are Killed

By Jeff Mays | November 12, 2015 1:26pm
 Even though eight people were struck and killed by motor vehicles over the last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said his Vision Zero plan to end traffic fatalities is working.
De Blasio Says Plan to Reduce Traffic Deaths Works In Spite of Deadly Week
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NEW YORK CITY — The NYPD will increase enforcement against reckless driving after 12 pedestrians were killed by drivers over the last week and one-half.

The enforcement effort will cover all 77 of the city's precincts and last through Nov. 22. More than 1,700 officers from the highway, patrol, traffic operation and traffic enforcement divisions will be involved in enforcing infractions such as speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, distracted driving and parking in traffic lanes.

An additional eight hours of traffic enforcement per day will be conducted at sites identified through pedestrian collision data, according to city officials.

The move comes as the effectiveness of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic deaths has come under question. 

The city has seen a spate of deadly crashes in the last week and one-half, including accidents involving an MTA bus driver, a taxi driver, a dump truck operator and commercial bus driver. The crashes killed children as young as 10 years old and an 88-year-old woman.

Driver Paul Omoregie, 58, was criminally charged in Flatbush Monday after jumping the curb, flipping over and crushing 50-year-old Kinyeti Charles as he was walking past 994 Flatbush Ave., near Albemarle Road.

A video shows Charles walking along when the car suddenly crashes onto the sidewalk. Omoregie was arrested and charged with driving without a license and aggravated unlicensed operator.

(Warning: graphic video. The footage has been edited.)

De Blasio insisted that Vision Zero is working and cited a reduced number of traffic deaths.

From the beginning of the year until Nov. 8, there have been 192 traffic fatalities, 107 of which have been pedestrians. Last year at this time there were 226 fatalities, including 119 pedestrians.

That's a 15 percent reduction in total fatalities and 10 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities, the city said.

Asked during a City Hall press conference Monday about criticism from pedestrian and biking advocacy group Transportation Alternatives that the NYPD needed to focus on reckless driving instead of their plan to target jaywalking pedestrians in Flushing, de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton said enforcement was already aggressive.

"I think NYPD is doing something transcendent in terms of going at these kind of crimes, and it’s changing drivers’ behavior. So I think it’s been very aggressive and effective," said de Blasio.

Bratton said efforts were being made to focus on precincts with higher levels of reckless driving while increasing traffic enforcement personnel.

In a statement, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said the city was "sending an important message" by addressing the "most dangerous violations."

But the group said more needs to be done.

"If traffic enforcement is to be effective and equitable, it must be data-driven and consistent across the five boroughs. We call on the department to continue to target the most deadly violations after this focused enforcement period ends on Nov. 22," White said.