When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Vision Zero program in 2014, he said the goal of the initiative was to eliminate all traffic accident deaths and serious injuries within 10 years. De Blasio now admits that the program is facing a crisis, but he insists that its ultimate objective remains achievable. Total traffic fatalities in the city are up by 15% in 2019, and the pedestrian death toll is even more worrying. Pedestrian deaths in New York City increased alarmingly in 2018, and they are on pace to rise even further in 2019.
Three pedestrians were recently killed in New York in just two days. On July 7, a 72-year-old man succumbed to injuries he suffered when he was struck by driver on the Horace Harding Expressway in Queens. Just a few hours later, a 65-year-old woman was struck and killed by a wrong-way driver in Harlem. The livery driver responsible has been charged with reckless endangerment and vehicular manslaughter.
The following day, a 49-year-old woman lost her life after being struck by a car as she crossed Church Avenue in Brooklyn. Police reports reveal that the woman was in a marked crosswalk when the car hit her. The driver has not been charged. Prospect Park residents say that future tragedies are inevitable because Coney Island Avenue is laid out like a highway and no pedestrian upgrades are planned for the area.
The plaintiffs in car accident lawsuits must generally establish that the defendants acted negligently, but the reverse may be true when a pedestrian is injured. In some situations, the facts suggest negligence so strongly that the onus falls on defendants to prove that they did not act recklessly. This legal principle is known as res ipsa loquitur, which means things speak for themselves, and it is applied when injuries could not have occurred unless the defendant acted negligently. It is commonly argued in cases involving pedestrians who were struck by motor vehicles while walking on a sidewalk or using a marked crosswalk at a red light.