For the past decade The New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) has taken lots of initiatives, strategies, and goals aimed at making the city's streets safer.
State Senator Andrew Gounardes stands at a podium discussing the change of speed camera hours of operation to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as part of a broader effort to improve road safety. Lawmakers in both New York City and State play a pivotal role in the Vision Zero initiative, which aims to reduce traffic-related fatalities and injuries through comprehensive measures.
Vision Zero is grounded in the Safe System Approach, comprising Safer People, Safer Vehicles, Safer Speeds, Safer Roads, and Post-Crash Care. These components collectively contribute to creating a safer and more secure transportation environment for all road users.
While the City Council can enact certain safety legislation, many crucial traffic safety laws that impact the safety of New York City streets must be passed by the State Legislature and Governor. The City administration has been actively collaborating with these entities to establish laws and regulations that enhance safety on NYC streets.
Strengthening Road Safety: DMV's Proposed Amendments
In early September 2023, according to the DMV Press Release the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) took a significant step to enhance road safety by proposing a series of amendments to existing regulations aimed at addressing dangerous driving behaviors and keeping high-risk drivers off the road. These proposed changes align with Governor Kathy Hochul's commitment to road safety, as outlined in her 2023 State of the State proposal. The primary objective of these revisions is to establish a safer environment for all road users, encompassing drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and children.
Mark J.F. Schroeder, Commissioner of the New York State DMV and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, underscored the fundamental message driving these proposed changes:: "If your actions behind the wheel put others in danger, you don't belong in the driver's seat." With this ethos in mind, the DMV's proposed amendments encompass a multi-pronged strategy to tackle risky driving behaviors comprehensively.
Proposed Amendments: A Safer Road Ahead
Increased Points for Dangerous Driving Offenses
One of the primary proposed changes revolves around the driver violation point system. The DMV suggests raising the point values associated with specific convictions, including criminal offenses and traffic violations. These modifications are set to bring about a substantial influence on drivers:
Alcohol- or Drug-Related Convictions
Under the proposed regulations, these convictions would result in 14 points on a driver's record, marking a substantial increase in penalties for such offenses.
Aggravated Unlicensed Operation
A conviction under Vehicle and Traffic Law § 511, known as Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, would now carry 11 points, compared to none previously.
The proposed changes introduce 8 points for several offenses, including overtaking or passing a stopped school bus, operating or driving a vehicle exceeding height or weight limitations (including striking a bridge), and speeding in a work zone.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Motorists accused of leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury would now be subject to an additional 3 points added to their driving record.
Furthermore, the DMV is looking to extend the look-back period for point calculation from the current 18 months to 24 months, making it more stringent for habitual offenders.
Disqualification and Re-Licensing Criteria
In efforts to further deter dangerous driving behaviors, the proposed regulations introduce stricter disqualification and re-licensing criteria:
Lifetime Re-Licensing Restriction
Presently, individuals with five or more alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions face a lifetime re-licensing restriction. The proposed changes aim to reduce this threshold to four such convictions.
Lifetime Re-Licensing Restriction for Multiple Offenses
Additionally, the DMV is considering implementing a lifetime re-licensing restriction for individuals with three or more alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions, combined with one or more serious driving offenses.
Engage and Influence Road Safety: Provide Your Input on Proposed Regulations
For those interested in reviewing the complete text of the proposed regulations and offering feedback, the DMV has provided access to the regulatory changes on its website. All proposed changes can be reviewed in the New York State Register and will be open for comment for 60 days. Public comments are welcomed and play a crucial role in shaping the future of road safety in New York.
These proposed regulatory amendments underscore the commitment to road safety and signal that dangerous driving behaviors will be met with increased penalties and stricter enforcement, ultimately working towards a safer road environment for all.