NYT article- Why our serious injuries aren't investigated

Public chat about the reality of riding throughout the state of NY.

NYT article- Why our serious injuries aren't investigated

Postby Cheryl S » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:53 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/11/nyreg ... odayspaper

This article about a pedestrian run down by a drunk driver in Bklyn explains how a tiny NYPD unit responsible for investigating traffic accidents persistently fails to mount a full investigation unless the victim has died or is deemed likely to die. One of the claims from the surviving husband's lawsuit is that this NYPD policy "is a direct violation of state traffic law, which calls for investigations of all crashes that cause serious injury, whether or not anyone is killed." If the victim's spouse prevails in court, the NYPD may be forced to change a policy which often leaves us without adequate financial or legal protection.

From the article:
"... an investigation by accident squad detectives, initiated shortly after the early-morning crash on July 10, was halted because his wife was still alive at the time. The unit did not begin a formal investigation into the crash until July 14, three days after Ms. Heyworth, 28, died from her injuries.

That delay, Mr. Stevens said, meant that most of the evidence from the crash — skid marks and surveillance video, witness accounts, and alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream — had been lost. (emphasis mine)

Mr. Stevens plans to file suit in United States District Court in Brooklyn on Monday against the driver of the car, and against the New York Police Department for not fully investigating the crash, in what his complaint describes as a “systematic failure” of police policy.

The lawsuit is the latest challenge to the department over its handling of crashes involving cars striking pedestrians and cyclists, an issue that threatens a proud accomplishment of the Bloomberg years: safer streets.

It seeks to draw scrutiny to the important role played by a small unit of traffic crime investigators, a division of the Highway Patrol known as the Accident Investigations Squad, or A.I.S.

These specially trained detectives — fewer than two dozen — do the forensic work of measuring skid marks, reviewing closed-circuit video recordings and diagraming crash sites. But they do so only in cases of death or when a victim is deemed likely to die.

It is an approach that makes the most of shrinking resources, police officials told a City Council hearing in February, but one that critics contend leaves thousands of injured pedestrians with little more than a simple write-up of their accidents. (emphasis mine)

It also puts a burden on emergency room staff members, who may be unaware that their split-second call about a patient’s prognosis could dictate how much, if any, police resources are given to a case.

At the Council hearing in February, John T. Cassidy, the police deputy chief in charge of transportation, acknowledged that the accident investigation squad would not respond “if there is not ‘a likely to die,’ or a death.”

This article is relevant to us because our injuries may be serious, or VERY serious, but a full scale investigation is never triggered unless we've expired at the scene. On a personal note, my experience with this policy last year means that my very serious accident, (23 breaks and five surgeries at last count. I was hit from behind and my right while riding at slow speed through a construction zone), is being investigated by a professional accident scene reconstruction expert based on photos of the car driver's damaged vehicle and the dent where he pushed me into the light pole at the crash site. The expert's bill will be paid out of the minimal settlement I expect to eventually receive.

The other part of this discussion is that our injuries don't seem to matter to the NYPD, or those who manage the Mayor's safe streets initiative. From the article:
"... the latest challenge to the department over its handling of crashes involving cars striking pedestrians and cyclists, an issue that threatens a proud accomplishment of the Bloomberg years: safer streets."

This NY Times article reflects NYC's official language whenever road safety comes up. We're simply never mentioned. NYCDOT statistics rate us as the 2nd most vulnerable group of road users, behind pedestrians and AHEAD of bicyclists, and yet we have yet to be included in any plans or discussions, and our existence has similarly been excluded from this article.
Cheryl S
Cheryl S
Posts: 391
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:52 pm

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