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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Statewide Coalition Launches and Urges Albany to Pass The Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act This Year to Save Lives on Roads Throughout New York State
Package of Seven Bills Will Address Crisis of Traffic Violence, Help Build Safe Streets, and Support Victims After Crashes
Fatal crashes cost New York State $15 billion annually
New coalition includes organizations from New York City, Long Island, Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Rochester, and Syracuse
ALBANY, NY — The New York State Safe Streets Coalition, made up of 14 safety and transportation advocacy organizations from across the state, launched today and urged Albany to pass the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act this year. As New York State faces a spike in fatal crashes, this package of seven bills will redesign streets for safety, address rampant speeding, educate drivers on bike and pedestrian safety, and provide support to those personally affected by crashes.
“I know the pain of traffic violence all too well: A reckless driver killed my 12-year-old in 2013. After fighting to lower New York City’s speed limit, a driver struck another child on that same street. The lower speed limit was the difference between life and death,” said Amy Cohen, campaign lead and co-founder of Families for Safe Streets. “New York State must implement proven tools to end the crisis of traffic violence. The Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act will safeguard the lives of everyone traveling on our roads, including the most vulnerable.”
On average, three New Yorkers die daily in crashes, and hundreds more are seriously injured with debilitating life-long consequences. Crashes are the leading cause of injury-related death, second leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and third leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits in New York State. This epidemic costs New York State $15 billion annually. The CVRSA consists of bold, life-saving legislation that will make the state’s streets safe for all road users, while protecting the rights and voices of victims of traffic violence.
Traffic injuries and fatalities are a major, preventable public health issue, according to the NYS Department of Health. During the first half of 2021, 398 people were killed in traffic crashes across the state, a 19 percent increase over 2019, affecting drivers, passengers, people walking and biking, and New Yorkers of all ages. In New York City alone, crashes killed 273 people — the deadliest year since 2013 with more than 35 percent more fatalities than the safest year, 2018.
The New York State Safe Streets Coalition is comprised of Families for Safe Streets, Albany Bicycle Coalition, Bike Walk Tompkins, GObike Buffalo, National Safety Council, New York Bicycling Coalition, Open Plans, Parks & Trails NY and the National Heritage Corridor, Reconnect Rochester, Rochester Bicycling Club, Slow Roll Syracuse, Transportation Alternatives, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and Walkable Albany.
“We know that speeding and reckless driving increased significantly during the pandemic, putting the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists at risk. It’s imperative that we advance the Crash Victim Rights & Safety Act in order to better protect all roadway users,” said Senator Tim Kennedy, Chair of the NYS Senate Transportation Committee. “I’m personally proud to sponsor two of the bills included, which would build stronger, forward-thinking infrastructure for all New Yorkers, and I encourage all of my colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly to support these important pieces of legislation, so that we can get them on the Governor’s desk this year.”
“New Yorkers of every age and from every walk of life were devastated by traffic violence in 2021. In memory of those we lost, we must do everything in our power — including passing the Crash Victims Impact Act — to make our streets safe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike,” said Senator Andrew Gounardes. “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. It’s time for every single person to feel safe walking down the street.”
“Until new and improved bike lanes are established on roadways through the state, we need to ensure everyone’s safety by enacting a necessary buffer zone when vehicles are passing bicyclists. The legislation that I have reintroduced will provide cyclists outside of New York City with at least three feet of space on our roadways, and direct motorists to approach cyclists with caution. With more motorists and cyclists sharing our roadways than ever before, a simple regulation as such will save lives across the state,” said Senator Pete Harckham.
“We’re less than a month into 2022, and already nine New Yorkers have lost their lives to car violence. Albany must let New York City lower its own speed limits. My legislation, Sammy’s Law (S.524), would change that,” said Senator Brad Holyman. “Reducing traffic speed is a proven way to make our streets safer, especially as the pandemic has led to increased car use, bike ridership and outdoor dining. I’m grateful Sammy’s Law is once again included in the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act package of bills, I’m proud to cosponsor all of the bills in the package, and I appreciate the work of Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and New York Bicycling Coalition to turn this legislation into law.”
“I’m proud to sponsor the Complete Streets Maintenance legislation in the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “In the first half of 2021, traffic crash fatalities rose by up to 19% across New York State, underscoring the need this year to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and those utilizing public transportation. Complete streets are vital to ensuring that our communities and ‘Main Streets’ are able to thrive economically, while reducing the number of deadly and serious crashes that occur on traditional roadways. All New Yorkers have a right to be safe on our roads.”
“In partnership with Senator Gounardes, I’m proud to carry a simple but crucially important bill in the Crash Victims Rights & Safety Act. New York’s pre-licensing course for operating a motor vehicle shockingly fails to include any education on how to safely interact with pedestrians and cyclists—and how deadly reckless driving can be for people just trying to get around on foot or a bike. We’ll never create a safer road culture if we’re not teaching fellow New Yorkers the basics. And after a deadly year for crashes, we can’t wait any longer. I’ll fight for every piece of the CVRSA until they are law,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher.
“Victims of traffic crashes and their families suffer great pain and hardship in the aftermath of a crash. It is imperative that those who must deal with the physical, mental, and financial distress are given every opportunity to heal from their traumatic experience. I look forward to passage of this bold legislative package to support crash victims, including my bill to ensure the right to free and timely crash reports, the ability to provide an impact statement at DMV hearings, and the assurance to receive time off of work to provide an impact statement for all crash victims,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick.
“Passing Sammy’s Law to let New York City set lower speed limits will save lives. New York City should have the right to protect public safety on our own streets without begging permission from Albany,” said Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Assembly sponsor of Sammy’s Law.
“Allowing cities, towns, and villages in New York State to set their maximum speed limit at 25mph will help reduce fatalities and injuries resulting from speed-related accidents. We need to give municipalities the authority to take this proactive step to benefit public safety. Slower speeds save lives. Thank you New York State Safe Streets Coalition for your hard-work and advocacy supporting legislation to make New York a safer place to live, work and enjoy!” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin.
Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “As elected officials, our primary responsibility is to protect our constituents and to provide safeguards where possible that can tangibly reduce hazards within our community. The Complete Streets Maintenance bill (A7782) will continue and expand New York State’s efforts in improving street safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.”
“Recently, my district has seen numerous automobile crashes that have resulted in critical injuries and death for bicyclists. There is a rational way to prevent these events that is already law in 35 states. We need to instill in drivers from the time they start studying for their permit test that they share a road with bicyclists, that slowing down, and keeping a safe distance away will ensure everyone gets to their destination safely,” said Assemblymember Phil Steck.
What the New York State Safe Streets Coalition is saying:
“As motor vehicles have grown larger and drivers more distracted and driving faster we are seeing more cyclists and pedestrians being seriously injured and killed on our roadways. Lowering speed limits allows drivers more time to see and react appropriately to pedestrians and cyclists and reduces the force of impact saving lives and limbs,” said Ed Brennan, President of Albany Bicycling Coalition. The Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act will support Complete Streets initiatives that improve safety on our roadways, better educate drivers and allow municipalities the option to lower their speed limits. We need everyone to tell their legislators that NY needs passage of the CVRSA.”
“Bike Walk Tompkins strongly supports the Crash Victim Rights & Safety Act – a package of life-saving bills that will redesign our streets with safety as a priority to protect all road users, address rampant speeding, educate drivers on bike/pedestrian safety, and provide support to those personally impacted. Access to biking and walking is key for transportation equity and encourages more use of zero carbon transportation, which is absolutely crucial for our state’s climate goals,” said Nicole Friske, Associate Director for Communications & Outreach, Bike Walk Tompkins
“Across Buffalo and WNY, we have witnessed nearly 2,000 cars hitting pedestrians and cyclists between 2017 and 2021. Our wide roads are designed for speed, and these crashes happen far too frequently, exacting a human and financial toll on our community. It needs to be made easier to implement Complete Streets by allowing municipalities to lower their speed limits, financially incentivizing them to redesign roads and including maintenance projects as a cost effective way to protect all users on our streets,” said Justin Booth, Executive Director at GObike Buffalo. “Every person deserves equal access to safe, connected streets free from stigma, fear and prohibitive expense and these bills support this vision.”
“Motor vehicle fatalities have increased significantly in New York, and more needs to be done to make our roads safer for all road users,” said Mark Chung, vice president of roadway practice at the National Safety Council. “The CVRSA will make it easier for localities to lower speed limits, incentivize the building and maintenance of complete streets and educate our young drivers to safely interact with all road users. NSC looks forward to helping pass this life-saving legislation.”
“It is time that New York joins the majority of other States that already have a defined safe passing law on their books. A defined safe passing law provides the protection needed to vulnerable road users, quite often children, who need a safe buffer from passing vehicles and their bikes. Suffolk and Monroe Counties have already made this the law. The law should not be limited to these County’s. All cyclists in New York need this protection,” said Daniel Flanzig, Esq. Advocacy Chair, New York Bicycling Coalition
“As the death toll on New York City’s streets continues to rise almost daily, it’s infuriating that New York City is prevented by the state from doing things that are known to increase safety, like lowering our speed limits,” said Sara Lind, Director of Policy at Open Plans. “As a nonprofit focused on making New York City’s streets safe, equitable, and livable, Open Plans knows firsthand that it’s impossible to create joyful and livable streets without the ability to lower the speed limit. This is why we must pass Sammy’s Law, and the entire Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act, this session.”
“It is crucial that we make our streets and roads safe for people of all ages and abilities to walk, bicycle or travel by other means within communities and to access our greenways, parks, trails, and other destinations,” said Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York. “The CVRSA will make it easier for communities to redesign streets to meet the needs of all users, prioritizing safety and making them more attractive destinations for visitors.”
“The Rochester Bicycling Club strongly supports the right of cyclists to safely use our roadways. The bills comprising the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act represent important concrete steps toward making NY’s roads safer for all users. CVRSA will establish a 3 foot passing requirement, make it easier for localities to lower speed limits, incentivize the building and maintenance of complete streets, educate young drivers to safely interact with all road users, and protect the legal rights of crash victims. We urge the swift passage of this important legislation,” said Mark Robbins, Rochester Bicycling Club Advocacy Coordinator
“To all who want to bike — no matter race, age, gender, culture, religion or even ability, in any corner of our city or state, should be able to do so safely. We are very proud to be part of the New York State Safe Streets Coalition working to pass the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act in Albany. We know that with the confidence and security of passing these bills, it will help make streets safe here in Syracuse for cyclists & pedestrians. We look forward to partnering with our local Assemblyman and Chair of the Transportation Committee, Bill Magnarelli, to get the package across the finish line this year,” said Anika Flagg, President & Lead organizer, Slow Roll Syracuse.
“The status quo has failed New Yorkers. We cannot continue to accept hundreds of traffic fatalities each year as normal,” said Danny Harris, Executive Director of New York City-based Transportation Alternatives. “By passing the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act, lawmakers in Albany will save thousands of lives, provide the support that all victims of crashes deserve, and be a model for the country to follow. Our coalition looks forward to working with our legislators to pass the CVRSA and end the traffic violence epidemic.”
“Our transportation system must serve everyone in the state and our streets should be designed with all users in mind, especially those considered most vulnerable – people walking, bicycling, and rolling. Tri-State Transportation Campaign is proud to join the New York State Safe Streets Coalition in advocating for the Crash Victim Rights & Safety Act and working to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries across the state,” said Sonia Szczesna, Director of Active Transportation for Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “We have the tools to end this public health crisis, we just need the political will to implement them.”
“These bills are essential to advancing pedestrian safety in New York State. Giving our cities the ability to set their own speed limits will save lives and improve the quality of our neighborhoods for seniors, children, and everyone in between. We call on state legislators to pass the CVRSA without delay,” said Andrew Neidhardt, President at Walkable Albany.
Individual Bills in the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act
Statewide Speed Limit (S02021 / A01007) — This bill will allow lower life-saving speed limits to be set by municipalities across New York State.
Sammy’s Law (S524 / A4655) — This bill will allow lower life-saving speed limits in New York City.
Complete Streets (S3897 / A6454A) — This bill will increase state funding where the municipality agrees to fund a complete street design feature.
Complete Streets Maintenance (S5130 / A7782) — This bill includes complete street design features in resurfacing, maintenance and pavement recycling projects.
Right to Safe Passage (S4529 / A547) — This bill will require drivers pass bicyclists at a safe distance of at least 3 feet.
DMV Pre-Licensing (S1078A / A5084) — This bill will require the Department of Motor Vehicles to educate New York drivers about safely interacting with vulnerable road users.
Crash Victim Bill of Rights (Hoylman / Glick) — This bill will guarantee rights and a voice for crash victims and their loved ones in legal proceedings.