A letter obtained by New York City local news publication StreetsBlog reveals that the city’s Department of Transportation Commissioner is pursuing a meeting with the head of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to discuss solutions to the city’s fatal reckless driving problem. The letter, from DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman to DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder, was sent on October 21st and seeks to “devise new, innovative strategies to address the problem of reckless drivers.”
In the letter, Gutman reportedly says the recent reckless driving killing of a 3-month-old infant drew his attention to “the limitations we encounter in ensuring that known dangerous drivers are kept off the roads.” As StreetsBlog and other publications have reported, the driver of the car that struck the infant had amassed numerous tickets and tickets, had been arrested and suspended, and had received “close to 100 camera-issued moving violation summonses” before the September incident. Although the driver’s car had reportedly “racked up enough unpaid parking tickets” that the Sheriff could legally tow it, authorities do not receive location data from speeding and red-light cameras when they issue tickets, which can make it difficult for them to track down offenders.
“Specifically,” Gutman reportedly wrote, “we would like to better ensure suspensions and revocations of licenses have the appropriate impact and discuss how we can strengthen penalties for reckless behaviors that injure or kill our fellow New Yorkers in order to better deter recidivist drivers.” As the Brooklyn Paper and amNY reported in October, an analysis by Transportation Alternatives found that this past summer “was the deadliest on the city’s roads” since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, and 2021 is likely to end with the most traffic-related fatalities during his administration. Transportation Alternative’s data showed that there were 77 traffic fatalities during the summer of 2021, as opposed to 66 during the summer of 2020 and 62 during the summer of 2019; the second-highest-ranking summer was in 2016, with 73 deaths.
The DMV reportedly told StreetsBlog it “welcomes” a discussion with the Department of Transportation. “The DMV is committed to safe streets and safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike,” a spokesperson for the Department said in a statement. “We welcome any opportunity to discuss ways we work to ensure public safety on our roadways.”
More information on the NYC DOT’s request to meet with the state DMV about traffic deaths in the city is available via StreetsBlog.