Albany, NY - State Senator Andrew Gounardes’ bill to expand NY Driver’s Education to include pedestrian and cyclist safety passed the Senate today, taking it one step closer to becoming law. The legislation, S5228, requires new drivers to learn about pedestrian and bicyclist safety awareness as a prerequisite for obtaining a license to operate a motor vehicle and integrates that education into the pre-licensing exam. This bill was co-sponsored by Senators Rachel May, Zellnor Myrie and Jessica Ramos.
2019 was a deadly year in Brooklyn and across New York City for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike. Traffic deaths rose to 219 in New York City in 2019 -- the first such rise in years. This represented a roughly 9% increase in fatalities overall and a staggering 200% increase in cyclist fatalities. 74 people, the most of any borough, were killed in Brooklyn. There were 7,916 collisions with injuries in Brooklyn South, the highest of any patrol borough in the City.
“Week after week, families experience the heartbreak of losing a loved one to traffic violence. Last Thursday, we lost a beloved member of our Bay Ridge community in a traffic collision. Many of these fatal accidents are due to reckless or inattentive driving. We have to change the culture that allows drivers to believe they own the road, starting with robust street safety education when a teenager gets their permit,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “I am proud that this bill to expand driver education has passed the Senate, and I look forward to fighting for it to pass in the Assembly and become law.”
“As an avid cyclist, I take this issue personally and know that we all have a responsibility to share our roads safely. I applaud my colleague for this legislation to include pedestrian and cyclist safety in all driver’s education courses,” said State Senator Rachel May.
"Not a single family should suffer the tragedy of losing a loved one in preventable crashes, yet we've not only seen a continuation of traffic deaths, but an increase in 2019. Senator Gounardes's bill is a commonsense proposal that will make our streets safer, and I applaud his leadership in getting it passed in the Senate,” said State Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie.
“As New Yorkers increasingly shift away from car culture and take more sustainably sound transportation alternatives such as biking or walking, we must ensure drivers are properly learning how to safely share our roads. In my own district, particularly on Northern Boulevard, reckless drivers have claimed the lives of one too many pedestrians and bicyclists — we need this legislation passed immediately. Thank you Senator Gounardes for your leadership on street safety for New Yorkers,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos.
Senator Gounardes has been a street safety champion, successfully passing the School Zone Speed Camera Expansion with Assemblymember Deborah Glick and the Loss of Consciousness Bill with Assemblymember Robert Carroll to prevent drivers who may be a threat to themselves and others from the road. He recently introduced a new package of Street Safety Bills designed to tackle the crisis of rising traffic deaths, including The Dangerous Driver Act, S7894, sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblymember Dan Quart to increase consequences for dangerous drivers; S7875, to expand pedestrian rights by deeming every intersection, marked or unmarked, to be a crosswalk; and S7876, sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblymember Nily Rozic to create a pedestrian safety rating of all vehicles based on how likely these vehicles are to cause injury or death to others on the road.