On March 19, New York City rolled out a new system for alerting residents about hit-and-run drivers in their area. The new system is modeled after Amber Alerts, but instead of offering information about a missing person, it will provide geographically targeted alerts about hit-and-run drivers and their vehicles. The new system is part of a broader push to reduce pedestrian accidents and traffic fatalities in the city.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the alert will only activate when the hit-and-run accident results in “serious injury or death.” The alert, which will be sent by the NYPD within 12 hours of a serious hit-and-run accident, will be distributed via social media, email, texts, as well as phone broadcasts on iPhones and Androids. Similar to Amber Alerts, the short message will include the make and model of the vehicle, as well as the license plate or any other relevant information.
The new system is part of Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” program which aims to eliminate pedestrian deaths in the five boroughs. While most hit-and-run accidents only cause property damage, a hit-and-run accident involving serious injuries or death is still relatively common. In New York City alone, there were 32 fatal hit-and-run accidents last year, a drop from 38 in 2016. According to the Wall Street Journal, arrests are made in less than half of hit-and-run accidents that cause serious injuries. Under New York law, a driver who knows or should know they have caused property damage or personal injury is obligated to stay at the scene of the accident and provide personal information. Therefore, in addition to potentially reducing pedestrian deaths, the new system will hopefully help police hold perpetrators of this crime accountable for their actions.
City officials state a typical hit-and-run accident occurs at night and on a street with relatively little traffic. Further, hit-and-run drivers are more likely to be impaired by drugs or alcohol or driving without a license. For impaired drivers, leaving the scene of the crime allows them to evade immediate drug or alcohol testing, a tragic trade-off that denies the injured and innocent victim of these accidents both justice and immediate medical attention.
Similar alert systems exist in California and Colorado, and while New York State considered a state-wide program last year, the bill is still in committee. Until the rest of the state catches up, New York City will, in the words of City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, “bring justice to the families of the victims” all on their own.
Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC if you have any questions.