Drivers who kill rarely suffer punishment more than a ticket

Lee Heidhues 1.24.2023

I am not speaking of San Francisco today where 37 pedestrians were cut down on City streets in 2022.

I am today writing about New York City where 255 pedestrians, motorists and cyclists were killed last year.

The carnage on America’s roadways is a nationwide disgraceful epidemic with government officials, for the most part, making vacuous pronouncements and doing nothing to stop the carnage.

As long as the car rules supreme in America nothing will change. People will continue to be killed.

Excerpted from New York Magazine 1.24.2023

Maybe in the scheme of things, the death toll from driving through New York City isn’t worth fussing over.

When drivers who kill rarely suffer any punishment more severe than a ticket and then get right back on the road.

Drivers to ignore the rights of pedestrians

More than three times as many New Yorkers were murdered last year as died under the wheels. Several thousand overdosed. Many froze to death on the streets. If we’re going to accept those ratios, let’s at least be honest about it and admit that, yes, some people are going to get hit by cars and die, and we don’t care, or don’t care enough.

The advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has just issued its annual report listing the names of all 255 pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists killed on the city’s streets in 2022. Nearly half were on foot.

The Department of Transportation boasts of having “driven” — its word — “traffic deaths to historic lows,” which is true if by “history” you mean since last year. If you compare it to the actual historic low of 2018, when the carnage was limited to “only” 202 people, the stats look less rosy. Nine years into the Vision Zero era, we should really be calling it Vision 125: the average number of pedestrians killed each year in New York since 2014. One every three days.

Apparently, all this is fine, the unfortunate, acceptable by-product of a city where people in cars and people without them mix.

The dangerous streets of San Francisco where 37 pedestrians died in 2022

That, at any rate, is the signal we all send when we shake our heads, shrug, and move on.

When city officials mumble pieties and let lifesaving street designs get bogged down in endless studies. When the Department of Transportation has only a sparse staff and limited budget to cope with 6,000 miles of streets and an endless supply of fractious New Yorkers eager to tweak, delay, and even block the lifesaving street redesigns.

Top photo – The scene at 97th Street and West End Avenue in New York City after Cooper Stock was killed by a taxi driver in 2014. Photo: Pearl Gabel/NY Daily News via Getty Images