Traffic laws and penalties are being called into question after a 66 year-old pedestrian was hit and killed by a repeat traffic offender in a Bath Beach intersection on Sept. 12.
The driver, 56-year-old Faheem Shabazz, was turning left onto Bath Avenue from 25th Avenue when he struck Xia Ying Chen as she was pushing a two year-old toddler in a stroller. Chen was transported to NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, where she was pronounced dead.
Records compiled by How’s My Driving revealed Shabazz has received multiple traffic violations for speeding, with the latest being on Aug. 26.
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who represents southern Brooklyn and is a safe streets advocate, said there should be tougher consequences for repeat offenders.
“That’s really what this conversation should be about – how are we holding people accountable when they have violations to their record and zero consequences for it,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “I’m outraged and angry that yet again someone with a history of not obeying traffic laws has killed someone and I don’t think anything is going to happen because of that, and that’s a real damn shame.”
The area has seen multiple fatal collisions over the last few years. In 2019, a three year-old was struck and killed near the intersection of Bay 25th Street and Benson Avenue, less than a mile away from where Chen was killed. The following year, a seven year-old girl died in a similar incident at Bay 23rd Street and Bath Avenue.
Following the Sept. 12 crash, state Sen. Iwen Chu, who represents Bath Beach, called on the New York City Department of Transportation to study the area and gauge what safety improvements can be made.
“It breaks my heart that this young child will no longer have their grandmother with them. This is only the most recent tragedy in the area,” Chu said in a statement. “We must recognize that our streets need to be designed with safety in mind.”
The speed limit at the intersection — and on all streets across the city — is 25 mph. According to the DOT, a pedestrian hit by a car going 25 mph is half as likely to die than a pedestrian hit by a car going 30 mph.
Gounardes supports lowering speed limits, but said the limits mean nothing if drivers can break the law with little to no consequences.
Speeding fines range from $45 to $600 depending on how far over the speed limit the driver was going. Penalties increase if a driver is convicted of more than one speed violation in 18 months.
Gounardes said he has been fighting to increase enforcement and accountability against reckless drivers, however, the policies have fallen on deaf ears.
“This just calls urgent attention to the need to look at every single intersection and every single roadway as a place where someone can get injured or killed trying to cross the street,” he told Brooklyn Paper.
In 2017, DOT made safety enhancements at Bay 23rd, Bay 24th and Bay 26th streets, to allow pedestrians more time to cross intersections and slowing drivers down when they turn. Mona Bruno, a DOT spokesperson, said the team will continue to make upgrades as needed.
“Every life lost on our roads is a tragedy and we are reviewing street design at this location as we do for all fatalities,” Bruno said.