Gounardes introduces suite of street safety bills

State Senator Andrew Gounardes was joined by PS 185 students and the family of Jose Contla to announce a package of street safety legislation last month.
Photo by Jessica Parks

Southern Brooklyn State Senator Andrew Gounardes proposed a package of street safety legislation on Friday, capping off a week marred by the deaths of six pedestrians across the city. 

“We are here after yet another tragic week in what seems a nonstop series of tragic weeks for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers in our city, and especially here in southern Brooklyn,” he said. 

One proposal would establish a safety rating for vehicles, based on how likely the car would be to harm pedestrians and cyclists in the event of an accident — which could potentially affect the cost of car insurance policies. 

If enacted into law, that proposal would be the first of its kind in the United States.

“We made significant gains in making cars safe for people inside, for passengers inside the cars, but we have not done a similar effort to make cars safer for how they impact and affect people when they are involved in collisions and crashes,” Gounardes said.  

Another plan would lighten the burden of proof for district attorneys looking to charge careless drivers by eliminating the need to prove that a motor vehicle operator was aware of the harm they could cause by driving recklessly. 

“It’s time to say goodbye to the days when drivers, no matter how reckless and careless, could injure and kill our neighbors with impunity,” said the freshman legislator.

The third of Gounardes’ trio of policy proposals would make any intersection to be a crosswalk, whether it’s marked or not — forcing motorists to yield to crossing pedestrians at every junction in the city. 

The senator also called on the state’s legislature to pass a series of other proposals — including mandating that pedestrian and cycling safety education be taught in pre-licensing courses, and ordering written exams when renewing an expired driver’s license.

The street safety push comes after a six total pedestrians were fatally struck by cars in New York City this week — including 10-year-old girl Patience Albert and 7-year-old Payson Lott, who were both killed in East New York. 

That week-long carnage comes amid a larger spike in traffic fatalities around the Five Boroughs, where a staggering 219 people died last year in motor vehicle crashes citywide. 

“Clearly something is not working, it is not enough,” said Gounardes. “We can pass all the laws in the world… we have to get people to change their behavior, to change their understanding about what it takes to drive safe on our streets.”