The SUV driver who stuck and killed 99-year-old Holocaust survivor Jack Mikulincer in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn earlier this month was the recipient of “10 school-zone speeding tickets and four red-light tickets since 2016,” including six such speeding tickets in 2021, according to a report by Streetsblog. The incident raises questions of what state and city authorities are doing to protect pedestrians and vulnerable road users from repeat offenders.
Although New York City law requires some repeat speeders to take a driver’s education course, the SUV driver did not fall under this requirement, which only affects drivers who receive 15 automated camera speeding tickets or five red light tickets. Streetsblog notes that the author of the bill behind that law, current New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, wanted it to include drivers who received five speeding tickets. Unfortunately, the limit was “watered down” by the administration of former mayor Bill de Blasio. Fewer than 100 people have completed the class, even though reportedly “thousands” qualify for it.
In a statement about the killing of Mr. Mikulincer and other recent traffic violence fatalities, Transportation Alternatives Deputy Director Marco Conner DiAquoi criticized former mayor’s administration for raising the bill’s threshold. “Under the initial Reckless Driver Accountability Act drafted by former Council Member Brad Lander, this vehicle could have been taken off our streets,” he said. “However, the former mayor watered-down this proposal — and renamed it the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program (DVAP) — and this car remained on the roads.”
Elsewhere in his statement, DiAquoi argued that the city needs to strengthen the DVAP and expand in other road safety initiatives. “Vision Zero also needs an urgent investment to expand the tools that work,” he said. “We are encouraged by Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez’s commitments to redesign 1,000 intersections for safety and upgrade protected bike lanes. These changes must be fast-tracked. We also need to advance work on the NYC Streets Plan and fund it fully so the benefits of safe streets come to every corner of our city.”
A New York Times story about Mr. Mikulincer described how he grew up in Ukraine and fought in World War II. After moving to New York City, he owned a Brighton Beach bakery named after his daughter. “Men like this you cannot find,” his friend told the Times. “He was unbelievable.”