We have updates on the year’s first reported pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, which occurred in Manhattan and the Bronx on January 4 and 5.
NYPD was not ready to release the identity of either victim as of Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, it remains unclear what caused last Friday’s collision between a cyclist and a private sanitation hauler on E. 23rd Street near Madison Avenue.
Though the Post made sure to point out that the victim was not wearing a helmet, as if a styrofoam shell strapped to her head might have offered a significant measure of protection against a multi-ton truck, media accounts were short on basic details, such as whether she was sideswiped or struck from behind. If past patterns hold, it will take a successful freedom of information request, a rarity when attempting to obtain public records from NYPD, to determine what happened.
“NYPD’s information blackout underscores the need for legislation to demand a cadre of trained crash investigators at each precinct,” says Charles Komanoff, referring to one facet of the Crash Investigation Reform Act, now in limbo in the City Council.
Komanoff produced the 1999 report “Killed by Automobile” [PDF], which found that private dump trucks kill more city pedestrians than any other type of vehicle.
Also needed, says Komanoff:
- Public reporting of all available info within a tight time window — “say, 48 hours” — with the possible exception of the driver’s identity, which could be released later;
- AIS or AIS-level analysis available within two weeks;
- an annual compilation of all traffic fatalities, including proximate-cause coding and assignment of culpability.
“Obviously, current ‘practice’ is a million miles away from this,” Komanoff says. “It continues to embody the mindset that traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities are acts of God and are impervious to analysis and prevention.”