Gotham streets are extra harmful than they’ve been in years. As of June 30, 123 individuals had died in crashes, up from 105 in pre-pandemic 2019. The NYPD is rightly cracking down towards the unlawful dirt bikes and ATVs which have develop into a menace to pedestrians. But it should crack down, too, on drag-racing, rushing and unlawful souped-up cars.
In the late spring of 2020, New Yorkers grew accustomed to a brand new pandemic noise: the fixed buzz of unlawful filth bikes, with many drivers going the fallacious manner or up on sidewalks. In July, a toddler was critically injured by a dirt-bike rider in Flushing Meadows Park. The alleged thrill rider, who fled, blamed the kid when caught.
In June, actress Lisa Banes was killed by a hit-and-run driver on some sort of motorized two-wheel car. And the drivers preserve killing themselves: one lifeless in Brooklyn in July, one in September in Harlem.
In response, the NYPD has taken lots of of those unlawful automobiles off the streets, 651 since late April. People who’ve invested hundreds in these automobiles can’t get their contraband property again; most are destroyed.
Good — however the NYPD should take the identical aggressive strategy to drag-racing and rushing cars. Pedestrians and cyclists nonetheless face essentially the most threat from reckless and rushing drivers. Responsible drivers and their passengers, too, are in peril.
It’s exhausting to drive up the West Side Highway or Henry Hudson Parkway with out encountering a drag race, even through the day. In Bed-Stuy in May, a 52-year-old pedestrian died after being hit by a potential drag-racer; final June, two teenagers and a younger boy killed themselves on this manner in Brooklyn.
Reckless drivers who’ve purposely eliminated their mufflers are in all places, unnerving pedestrians and contributing to town’s environment of lawlessness.
The metropolis can sort out this scourge, too, by reviving a tactic that goes again to the Giuliani period: seizing cars. In 1999, the NYPD started seizing the cars of drunken drivers. It might do that as a result of, as town’s prime lawyer, Michael Hess, mentioned again then, “You can’t be driving drunk without an automobile, so the automobile is the instrumentality of the crime,” and the state Supreme Court agreed.
Similarly, town had lengthy seized the cars of individuals utilizing them to move prostitutes or medication. You can’t commit reckless endangerment by drag-racing or extreme rushing with no car, both — so the automobile is the instrumentality of the crime.
The NYPD should begin charging harmful drivers with legal expenses, and commensurately seizing their property. Seven years in the past, Manhattan DA Cy Vance convicted Adam Tang of reckless endangerment and reckless driving after Tang filmed himself in a high-speed caper round Manhattan. Civil forfeiture of his BMW was a part of a plea cut price he rejected earlier than his trial conviction.
Police don’t have to interact in chases to hold out these seizures. Cameras can compile video proof of reckless driving. Police can use license plates to trace a car to its residence and seize it whereas unattended.
The metropolis’s sheriff is already doing this, with cars with pretend plates — cars disproportionately pushed recklessly. Last month, the sheriff seized 43 such unattended automobiles in Brooklyn.
Of course, any stepped-up police motion will face criticism. One, there’s a disparate impression in who bears the brunt of enforcement — not a racial one, however a gender one. The overwhelming majority of reckless drivers are younger males.
We can endlessly debate the foundation causes of why younger girls of all races are extra accountable on the whole. But within the meantime, the boys shouldn’t be killing and injuring themselves and others.
Two, seizing automobiles could hurt an harmless breadwinner, whose boyfriend or son borrowed a automobile for daredevil antics. Giuliani confronted this argument — and noticed that you simply shouldn’t let somebody use your automobile, a probably deadly weapon, until you actually belief them.
Third, an earthly challenge: As one police supply says, with the West Side tow pound now closed for real-estate redevelopment, there’s no place to park seized automobiles. Renting out-of-town cupboard space would pay for itself, although, within the sale of property utilized in a criminal offense.
None of this works if town’s 5 DAs gained’t acknowledge that willful unhealthy conduct has penalties. “The pandemic made me do it” is not any excuse.
Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor of City Journal.