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New York mayor signs bills to reduce pedestrian accidents

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has implemented one phase of his Vision Zero initiative by signing legislation designed to curb pedestrian fatalities. The location of the signing was symbolic -- the mayor chose to sign the bills outside of P.S. 152 in the borough of Queens' Woodside neighborhood.

The school was the one attended by an eight-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a truck. Now the intersection where he died has islands added for pedestrians' safety, and the lights have been re-timed so those walking can cross when traffic is stopped.

According to statistics provided by city officials, pedestrian accidents and bicyclists account for approximately 250 deaths annually, while 4,000 more are injured after being struck by traffic on city streets.

Vision Zero's package of 11 bills focuses on reducing speed within the city, imposing penalties on drivers who fail to yield to cyclists and pedestrians and suspending the licenses of taxi drivers involved in accidents with serious injuries or fatalities. Even jaywalkers can expect increased scrutiny.

Said de Blasio, "These bills really do important things for our city. The vision is to end traffic fatalities in the city. It's not easy."

New Yorkers have gotten used to lots of close calls and have become blasé about near-misses. But those struck by traffic -- if they survive -- often face a completely different world filled with obstacles like medical bills in the six- and seven-figure range, medical equipment that may include wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs and brain damage that leaves them a shell of their former vital selves.

While there is no magic cure to fix lingering physical or other problems stemming from being hit by traffic, pedestrians may choose to seek redress from the civil court system.

Source: United Press International, "New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signs legislation to curb pedestrian deaths and injuries" Frances Burns, Jun. 23, 2014

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