Joined by advocates and fellow elected officials, Council Member Rodriguez, Chair of the Transportation Committee, announced the introduction of a new bill to curb hit and runs in NYC as well as plans to introduce several others shortly. The legislation to be introduced would establish a hit and run reward fund, to compensate members of the public who provide information leading to the apprehension, prosecution or conviction in the case of a hit and run.
The start of 2017 has been grueling, with three separate fatal hit and run crashes in the first three days of the year. In late 2016, a popular DJ from the radio station 97.9 FM, La Mega, Jean Paul "DJ Jinx Paul" Guerrero was killed in a hit and run in Brooklyn. These deaths have shaken New Yorkers and further exposed the cost of hit and run crashes in New York City.
In 2017, Council Member Rodriguez announced that it should be a priority to do everything the City can do eradicate hit and run crashes in 2017:
"Every fatal hit and run that occurs in our city leaves a family in mourning," said
Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "Hit and runs occur with far too great a frequency. Today we are sending a message that we're willing to put our money where our mouth is to catch and prosecute cowardly individuals who leave people for dead as they flee the scene. 2017 should be the year we say enough is enough and make ending hit and run crashes a priority."
Council Member Rodriguez also announced plans for two other bills aimed at curbing hit and runs, including a citywide hit and run alert system that informs the public about relevant information such as makes and models of cars involved in hit and runs; and stepped up investigations for all property damaged in hit and run crashes.
Council Member Rodriguez also signaled his intention to advocate for more officers to be assigned to the Collision Investigation Squad unit in the NYPD that investigates traffic crashes. These measures aim to increase enforcement to deter drivers from fleeing the scene of a crash, knowing they will be caught.
As Chair of the Council Transportation Committee, Council Member Rodriguez has facilitated the passage of legislation he co-sponsored to increase civil penalties against hit and run drivers and increase reporting of hit and run crashes, delineated by the severity of the crash and resulting damage, including whether the investigation yielded an arrest and led to a conviction. He has also introduced legislation to include hit and run alerts on Taxi TV screens to bolster the number of eyes looking for suspects on the street.
Nearly 40,000 hit and run crashes occurred in 2015. 4,000 involved pedestrians, cyclists or other drivers and over 1 per week resulted in serious injury or death, of which just over half led to arrests. These staggering numbers show how great this crisis is on our streets and are what the measures introduced by Council Member Rodriguez aim to address.