Three months to the day a driver accelerated through a Park Slope intersection and fatally struck two young children, a city councilman announced new legislation that strives to keep dangerous drivers off city streets.
The “Reckless Driver Accountability Act” was announced by Council Member Brad Lander on Tuesday and includes booting or impounding cars with five or more red-light and speed-camera violations within one year until the vehicle owner completes a Reckless Driver Accountability Program, expanding the current accountability program that is implemented in Red Hook and on Staten Island and requiring the city to release an annual study on dangerous driving to determine which behaviors align with traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities as well as make recommendations to reduce such behavior.
The announcement came three months after 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein and 1-year-old Joshua Lew were killed when they were struck by driver Dorothy Bruns as they crossed a Park Slope street with their mothers on March 5. Blumenstein’s pregnant mother, a Tony-winning actress whose stage name is Ruthie Ann Miles who was seriously injured in the incident, lost her unborn daughter, Sophia, last month, just weeks before her due date.
After the accident, Bruns’ past traffic violations, including four instances of running red lights, surfaced, as did the fact her doctor instructed her not to drive due to the medical condition that caused her to accelerate through the red light on March 5.
“We can’t bring Abigail, Joshua and Sophia back to their families, but by confronting reckless driving to prevent future deaths, we will do all we possibly can to make their memory into a blessing,” Lander said. “Even with the good work we’ve done through Vision Zero, being hit by a vehicle is the main cause of injury-related death for children under 14, and the second most common cause for seniors in New York City. The Reckless Driver Accountability Act takes an innovative, data-driven and restorative approach that will make NYC a leader in reducing dangerous driving and saving lives.”
The current consequence for camera-documented traffic violations is a $50 fine for each, regardless of how many infractions a driver might have. While only the state can suspend or give license points to dangerous drivers, the city can boot or impound vehicles until their owners complete a safety course that is designed to change such behavior. Studies show participants in such courses are 40 percent less likely to be rearrested for traffic offenses.
“For the safety of our children and our communities, we must do everything in our power to stem reckless driving,” Public Advocate Letitia James said. “The Reckless Driver Accountability Act is an essential piece of legislation that holds careless drivers responsible for their actions and has the potential to save the lives of New Yorkers.”