Vision Zero is a Zero

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Deputy Inspector Kevin Maloney meet at Northern Boulevard and 61st Street where an 8-year-old was struck and killed in the crosswalk while walking to school.

     I received a copy of Vision Zero Cities: International Journal of Traffic Safety Innovation. It includes cutting-edge information from experts around the world.  What follows is my letter to the editor of the Journal In which I explain my take on Vision Zero:
     If you want to achieve Vision Zero, you need to take the profit motive out of crashing.  There are people who go to work in the morning depending  on crashes; doctors, nurses, lawyers, insurance people, tow-truck drivers, ambulance drivers, car dealers, funeral directors, florists and,  yes, even driving instructors.    The thing is the cities and states have a financial interest in all the transactions that flow from a crash.  Read the bills presented to the legislature and at the very bottom there will be an item titled, fiscal impact.  In other words, does this bill make money for the state or will it cost money?
     As long as there are people who make a living from crashes, nothing will change.  Vision Zero is just a feel good concept to make people think the government cares about their safety.  It doesn’t!  Why is it still legal to kill with a car?  Why don’t the police enforce Ellie’s Law, Cooper’s Law and the new Right-of-way Law?  As I see it, they don’t want to discourage drivers from crashing.  They want drivers to know, that in the main, there will be no negative consequences for injuring or killing someone with your car.
     Moreover, NY State as does so many others, actually encouraging crashing by telling drivers its okay to drive distracted.  You doubt that statement?  When the only thing banned is holding a phone and not talking on a phone,  states are, in effect, encouraging distracted driving, which would hopefully lead to a crash, which in turn would enhance the Treasury.  Every survey ever conducted on the subject proved that there is no difference between a hand-held phone conversation and a hands-free conversation.  The conversation is the distraction!
     In 2013, Jill Abramson, the former editor of the New York Times, who was hit while walking, testified at a conference of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, that “pedestrian deaths are the perfect crime….usually nothing happens not even a traffic tickets.”  Manhattan DA, Cyrus Vance, Jr. declined to even attend the meeting.
     At that meeting, DOT Traffic Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, took “pride” in having traffic deaths reduced from 180 to 134.  In 2014, when 36 people died from Hepatitis A it was called an epidemic.   In Madagascar, when 40 people died from Bubonic Plague, it was called an epidemic.  In 2009, when 49 people died from Hepatitis B, it was called an epidemic.  In 1972, when 36 people died in Yugoslavia from smallpox, it was called an epidemic.  But in 2016, our politicians want a pat on the back for “only” 134 deaths.  Shame on  them.
    So there you have it.  Are these the ravings of a lunatic?  I think not.  I’ve just been in this industry for a long time and I am dismayed that killing with a car is legal and accepted.  I testified at a NYC Council hearing on this subject and told the members that I feel irrelevant.  Why bother teaching people how to drive safely, if killing with a car is okay?  If they wanted to be honest, the State should discard written tests, road tests, mandatory classes and just issue licenses when the fee is paid.  It shouldn’t really matter if they know how to drive.  Why should hitting a pedestrian be grounds for immediate failure on a road test, it it’s okay to do so once you have a license?
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