TRAFFIC SAFETY: New York City enacts first “Vision Zero” traffic safety laws

Mayor hopes to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024

June 04, 2014

The New York City Council passed a package of traffic-safety laws largely focused on greater protection for pedestrians and bicyclists. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bills into law.

The series of measures are the first steps in a new campaign spearheaded by de Blasio known as Vision Zero. Essentially, the program aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities in New York City by 2024, focusing on enhanced street design, law enforcement and education.

A total of 11 measures were included in the package approved last week, applying to all three areas of Vision Zero. One piece getting a lot of attention is known as Cooper’s Law, named after a nine-year-old who was killed by a taxicab while crossing the street. Cooper’s Law gives the city the power to suspend or revoke the license of taxi drivers who kill or maim a pedestrian that has the right of way. A similar measure makes it a misdemeanor for any drivers to hit pedestrians or bicyclists that have the right of way.

Another set of six measures focuses on shifting certain powers from the state government to the municipal government. This includes setting speed limits, setting higher penalties for reckless driving and maintaining control of red light cameras and speed cameras. New York City officials expect to get some pushback from the state on these proposals.