The City Council is putting city drivers on notice.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson, supporters of the legislation, and members of Families for Safe Streets — a coalition of advocates for stronger traffic laws — celebrated the passage of new legislation during a rally on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday.
"The message is very simple: Slow down. Stop speeding," Johnson said at the rally.
With a vote of 41 to 5, the City Council approved legislation to create a first-in-the-nation program which would take drivers who rack up speeding and red light violations off the road if they fail to comply with a driver safety course.
Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander said he was inspired to draft the legislation after 1-year-old Joshua Lew and 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein were mowed down on the streets of their Park Slope neighborhood by a woman who had a longstanding history of speeding and running red lights.
"That crash at 5th and 9th, it called our attention to one thing that we have not yet been paying sufficient attention to, and that is the harm caused by the very most reckless drivers in our city," Lander said at the rally. "You see them out there, they zip by you, they do an illegal U-turn, you watch them blow through a red light. So we all know they're out there."
The Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Law will create a three-year pilot program to send owners of vehicles with five or more red light violations or 15 or more school speed camera violations in a 12-month period to a traffic safety course.
If they fail to take that course they risk having their vehicles impounded. Car owners who are not driving when violations are caught on camera have the ability to appeal.
"You hear from — in video and sometimes in person — people who have lost loved ones in traffic crashes. They're small classes and you go through a set of workshops designed to get you to reflect," Lander said.
The driver accountability program will be run by the Center for Court Innovation in Red Hook. Officials will then draft a report to determine the success of the program before deciding if they will make it permanent.
The legislation will now be sent to the mayor's desk for his signature.
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