A recent New York Times article reports that Brooklyn has had more pedestrian deaths than any of the other boroughs – on average, about 46 per year. Prior to last year, traffic accidents that caused a fatality did not typically result in criminal charges for drivers unless they left the scene of the accident or were driving while intoxicated. A driver would have to be both criminally negligent and “morally blameworthy” in order to be brought up on criminal charges. However, as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero policy, which seeks to eliminate all traffic deaths in the 5 boroughs by 2024, drivers who are convicted of failing to yield to pedestrians in accidents where injuries or death have occurred are now being charged with misdemeanors instead of standard moving violations. Proponents of Vision Zero aim to stigmatize “dangerous driving” and hand out harsh punishments to those who violate the law. Opponents of the mayor’s policy claim that the city is trying to criminalize accidents. Do you agree that stiffer penalties need to be in place for drivers who injure or kill pedestrians? Or are the new law’s opponents correct in saying that the city is treating accidents like crimes?
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