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NY Group Rallies for Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act

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Friday, June 4, 2021   

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Advocates for traffic safety finished a 1,000-mile trip around the state today, to bring attention to proposed reforms to curb the 1,000 traffic deaths New York sees every year.

Families for Safe Streets is among the groups pushing for the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act. The package of bills includes lower speed limits, 24/7 speed cameras and safe passage for cyclists. It would also do more to support crash victims and hold reckless drivers accountable.

Amy Cohen, co-founder of Families for Safe Streets, advocated for the cause in memory of her 12-year-old son, Sammy, who was killed in 2013 by a reckless driver in Brooklyn.

"He knew how to navigate the streets, and it still wasn't enough," Cohen recounted. "And that's why I know this is not about one person, one driver or one pedestrian, making a mistake. This is a systematic problem that requires systematic solutions."

Rallies have been held in Albany, Long Island, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse to garner support for the Act, which would have to be passed before the session ends June 10. So far, three of the eight bills have cleared the Senate, although none have made it to the Assembly floor.

Other bills still in committee would create a pedestrian vehicle safety-rating system, and lower the blood alcohol content level to .05, which is the international standard for determining intoxication. The current level in New York is .08, Cohen noted.

"That is four drinks for the average man within an hour, that they can get behind what are now multi-ton vehicles and maneuver on our roadways across the state. That is a deadly act," Cohen argued.

In New York, vehicle crashes are the top cause of injury-related death, according to Families for Safe Streets.

Cohen added the challenge now is to make sure the bills are heard before it's too late.

"It's really just a matter of moving the machinations of Albany, you know, and getting through the process, getting through the committees timely enough, bringing the bills to the floor for a vote," Cohen explained.

The final rally for the week will be held at noon today at City Hall Park in New York City.


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