Under normal circumstances, a police force welcomes new laws with open arms and applies them to the relevant circumstances as and when they arise. That’s what laws are for, after all. So three years ago, Albany created the offense of careless driving. It was called Hayley and Diego’s Law, toddlers who were killed in 2009. You would think the NTPD would apply this law whenever a bicyclist or pedestrian is killed by a driver. Deaths are serious events.
So in 2012, 152 cyclists and pedestrians were killed and 14,327 were injured yet only 101 drivers were charged with careless driving. That’s less than 1%. Believe it or not, that’s an improvement on the performance in the previous two years. In the first year of the law, the NYPD wrote 99 summonses. That fell to 87 summonses in 2011.
This approach forces the defendants to face a homicide charge or effectively to walk free. This is the gap in the law Albany was trying to fix. For whatever reason, it seems the NYPD prefers the majority of people who kill cyclists and pedestrians to walk away with a fine.