NYC traffic violence is 'public health crisis,' official says

New York City leaders say traffic accidents are rising at an alarming rate. 

"We are calling attention to a public health crisis," Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said. "We have lost in Manhattan this year so far 16 lives to traffic violence.… The level of death and injuries on our streets is unacceptable."

The commissioner of the city Department of Transportation wants more speed cameras put in school zones and more red-light cameras at dangerous intersections. 

"We need to hold reckless and dangerous drivers accountable for their actions," Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said.

Seems easy enough, except here's the catch: the city can't expand the program without approval from state lawmakers. That is why Rodriguez is going to Albany to ask for help.

"Albany must allow New York City to expand our automated enforcement program," Rodriguez said. 

Officials held a news conference at the intersection in the East Village where NYU student Raife Milligan was hit and killed by an alleged drunk driver. 

"No one should have to go through the losing a loved one to a drunk driver," Rodriguez said. 

Right now, speed cameras in school zones only operate on weekdays from 6 o'clock in the morning until 10 o'clock at night. Traffic safety advocates want them operating around the clock. 

"It's absurd that speed cameras are turned off nights and weekends. Cameras are uniquely effective at enforcing and changing behavior to limit reckless driving,"  Levine said. "They should be running 24 hours, seven days a week." 

Safe streets advocates say many traffic injuries and accidents happen overnight. In addition to keeping speed cameras operating in school zones, they want to install more red-light cameras in dangerous intersections. 

Rodriguez just needs to convince state lawmakers it's the right thing to do in the city.