Cars as Weapons?
January 25th, 2006

As Sarah Ferguson writes in the Village Voice’s blog, crossing a New York City street seems especially treacherous this week. Three pedestrians were run over and killed in two days, which prompts Ferguson to ask readers, “Are police doing enough to hold drivers responsible? Are the streets getting meaner for pedestrians?”

Aaron Donovan aims his sarcasm at reckless drivers like the one that almost rammed into a crowd in front of him. On Monday, he was running an errand when a spaced-out driver flew threw a red light, barely avoided hitting crossing traffic, swerved, and then eked through the crowd crossing the street. “A few more feet, and people could have died,” he writes.

After a few irate curses were hurled at the driver, the crowd sighed and moved along. “No big deal,” Donovan says. “Imagine if someone had pulled out a pistol and shot into the crowd, but missed by the same narrow margin that this driver missed the folks walking in front of me. There would have been stories all over the front page of the tabloids: GUN-SLINGING MADMAN FIRES IN TIMES SQUARE! But a swerving lunatic behind the wheel? That’s just the risk you take when you venture out in public.”

Could be more ammunition for people in favor of congestion pricing and other measures aimed at limiting traffic in the city.

By on January 25, 2006, 5:13 pm
In category: Transportation | 7 Comments »

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7 Responses to “Cars as Weapons?”

  1. Larry Littlefield Says:
    January 26th, 2006 at 9:30 am

    Many drivers are simply thoughtless about the tragic consequences of their mistakes. Even if they aren’t with narrow streets and visibility problems at intersections, I worry I might run people over or be run over, especially at night in the rain.

    One solution: require automakers to install a chip to make public service announcements over the radio when the car is first turned on, reminding drivers to be careful. There could be a series of a few dozen messages, which could be played based on the time of day and conditions.

  2. bad idea Says:
    January 26th, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    That is one of the craziest ideas I’ve heard yet. How about just this: Start creating policies that reduce car traffic on NYC’s streets and improve buses, bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

  3. Daniel Botnick Says:
    January 27th, 2006 at 11:29 am

    If the city would take more cops off parking ticket duty and assign them to enforcing existing laws against drunk driving, running lights, making turns when pedestrians are in crosswalks and, most of all, enforcing the city’s 30 mph speed limit, we would see a major reduction accidents, fatal and otherwise as well as a probable increase in revenue to the city! Many drunks would lose their right to drive for awhile making the city a much safer place. There is nothing like a major fine and the threat of points to make even sober drivers watch their tushies.

    I have offered this advice to the mayor. Evidently, it is not sexy enough or perhaps it does not appeal to someone who tools around the city in a fleet of three or four elephantine SUVs. Of course, it would may him a Giulliani-style tough guy rather than a Heston-bopping tough guy. In the end image always trumps lives.

  4. peakguy Says:
    January 28th, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    I agree with Mr. Botnick that enforcement of actual traffic seems very secondary to “parking”. A stationary car is much less dangerous than a moving one and moving violations carry much worse penalties. For instance, the enforcing the ban on driving with a hand held cell phone would be a good start…

    We also should have some sort of check on Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOV) coming into the city to encourage carpooling. I’ve got no data to support this, but I think people driving alone drive more reckless than people driving with a friend or relative in the car.

  5. harris silver Says:
    February 1st, 2006 at 8:54 am

    Hillary Russ post contains an error.

    She ends with “Could be more ammunition for people in favor of congestion pricing and other measures aimed at limiting traffic in the city.”

    Traffic is a legally defined word that includes pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, even people on horseback as well as cars which she means.

    This is an important distinction as what she is saying is completely different from what she means.

  6. Glenn Says:
    February 1st, 2006 at 11:07 am

    There is an important distinction between car-traffic (noisy, polluting, dangerous) and pedestrian/bike traffic (healthy, environmentally friendly, community-oriented, less space consuming).

    We should be encouraging foot/pedal traffic and limiting car-traffic. The first promotes a livable city for residents, the other makes cities less desirable.

    Better mass transit, safer bike lanes, more parking for bikes, more pedestrian avenues without cars…

  7. Jacqueline Arasi Says:
    February 1st, 2006 at 11:30 am

    New York City deserves more from its streets. It is time to leave the auto-focused policy of the 20th century behind, and turn our streets, our public space, into great destinations for people. The New York City Streets Renaissance campaign is working for change on these issues. Find out more at

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