A new City Council bill would establish a reward system for people who help turn in hit-and-run drivers.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who serves as the chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee, introduced the bill Wednesday after a fairly grisly start to the new year. There were three separate fatal hit-and-run crashes in the first three days of 2017.
“Every fatal hit-and-run that occurs in our city leaves a family in mourning,” said Rodriguez in a statement. “Hit-and-runs occur with far too great a frequency. Today we are sending a message that we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is to catch and prosecute cowardly individuals who leave people for dead as they flee the scene.”
The bill would establish a system that would provide a reward up to $1,000 for those who pass on information that leads to the arrest of a hit-and-run driver involved in a crash where a victim is either killed or seriously injured.
There were nearly 40,000 hit-and-run crashes in 2015, according to data from Rodriguez’s office. Of that number, 4,000 involved pedestrians, cyclists or other drivers. (By definition, the term “hit-and-run” includes crashes where a driver might knock off a side view mirror of a parked car and drive away.)
The number of fatal hit-and-runs sharply increased last year, from 29 in 2015 to 39 in 2016, according to data from Transportation Alternatives. The advocacy group published a report last summer calling for more police enforcement of the act. Only 2.5 percent of the city’s hit-and-runs ended with some kind of enforcement action in 2015, the advocates found.
“We thank Councilmember Rodriguez for his efforts to find new ways to improve police investigations, so we can put an end to the scourge of hit-and-runs on the way to zero traffic deaths and serious injuries in New York City,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, in a statement.
Rodriguez also announced on Wednesday plans for two more related bills that are still being drafted. One would create an AMBER Alert-type system to notify the public of vehicles involved in hit-and-runs.