Navigating New York City's busy streets can be challenging for even long-time residents. Cars, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians all crowd the roads 24 hours a day. It is not uncommon for this congestion to result in accidents that cause serious injuries.
When a bicyclist or pedestrian is involved in a motor vehicle accident, there is often little protection from the impact of the vehicle. Even when cyclists are wearing a helmet, broken bones, serious brain injuries or death may result.
The New York City Council's Public Safety and Transportation Committees recently held a hearing to examine how the NYPD investigates bicycle accidents and enforces laws that deal with cyclists. Family members of victims have expressed concern over the lack of criminal punishments handed out to drivers involved in crashes with cyclists or pedestrians.
Council members called for stronger penalties for drivers who commit a moving violation and end up killing a cyclist or pedestrian. Often, the driver is given a ticket for the violation itself and does not receive any additional punishment for causing the death or injury, unless the driver was under the influence of alcohol or engaging in some type of distracted driving.
For victims, this can be extremely frustrating. Without extensive investigations by law enforcement, valuable information about the accident scene could become lost to time. Witnesses may not be questioned and photos may not be taken of the scene which could help prove who caused the accident.
All of this is crucial information if it becomes necessary to reconstruct the accident. If the matter ends up in the courtroom, it can be that much more difficult to demonstrate how the driver of the car or truck was responsible for the injuries that resulted from the collision.
Source: The New York Times "City Council Looks at Police Investigations Into Deaths of Bicyclists" Hannah Miet, Feb. 15, 2012