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Pedestrians vulnerable in spite of hit-and-run penalties

Compared to many cities, New York is relatively pedestrian friendly, so for thousands of residents, walking is the preferred mode of travel. Following traffic laws such as crossing streets only at crosswalks should be enough to keep people on foot safe. However, distracted, drunk, negligent or reckless drivers pose serious hazards to pedestrians, and being hit by a vehicle, even at low speeds, causes significant potential for injury or death.

Pedestrian vulnerability has been addressed by the city’s mayor through the Vision Zero project, which aims to reduce traffic accidents. Unfortunately, these measures were not enough to prevent five collisions in one weekend, three of which caused fatal injuries. In all of the incidents, the drivers fled the scene, but investigators are following leads that could result in arrests.

Even when there are no injuries, drivers who are guilty of a hit-and-run accident face a fine of $500 when they are caught. At least four of the five drivers may have felony charges brought against them because the collisions resulted in serious injuries or fatalities. In addition to the criminal charges, there are fines that could be between $5,000 and $10,000. Many believe these penalties are not serious enough.

Any driver who hits a pedestrian should be held responsible for the medical expenses and other damages, such as lost wages and lost quality of life. In the case of a fatality, family members may suffer from the loss of a breadwinner or companionship. A personal injury attorney may be able to provide representation to make sure the person who causes the accident is held liable.

Source: CBS New York, “Critics Demand Stronger Enforcement After String of Weekend Hit-and-Runs in NYC,” Feb. 29, 2016

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