Hitting a pedestrian with a car is apparently not a crime in New York City. This fact was highlighted in a recent accident that left actor Michael McKean and two other pedestrians injured. The crash that involved two vehicles that collided and lost control occurred at Broadway and 86th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
McKeen was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in critical condition, bleeding from the head. He was subsequently diagnosed with a broken leg and upgraded to stable condition.
A nearby doorman was heard to say, “That’s a horrible corner, a very dangerous corner.” He added that drivers run red lights all the time at this intersection. Despite the injuries, the Daily News reported that no criminality was suspected. This is typical; drivers are rarely charged after causing accidents that kill or injured pedestrians.
In 2011, for example, 241 people riding bicycles or walking were killed by motor vehicles, but only 17 drivers were charged with criminal offenses. No drivers were charged last year after causing accidents that resulted in injuries.
The New York City Council conducted hearings to determine why drivers are seldom if ever charged in pedestrian accidents, asking why accident-causing drivers don’t even receive traffic summonses for running red lights, failing to yield, or speeding? The answer apparently is that the city does not have the resources. Only 23 officers are assigned to the city’s Accident Investigation Squad, and they don’t have time to do much more than investigate the worst fatal accidents.
Pedestrians have been second-class citizens in New York City for some time. For example, the concept of “jaywalking,” introduced in the 1920s, suggests that pedestrians, rather than drivers, are the law-breakers.
Source: New York Magazine, “Hitting Pedestrians With a Car Still Not Criminal in New York City,” by Joe Coscareli, May 23, 2012.