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FDNY Set To Institute 'Crash Tax'

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) -- The cost of driving in New York City is about to get more costly. That is, if you need medical attention after an accident.

In a time of tight budget times, the city is looking for new ways to recoup costs.

And drivers needing help from the FDNY will be the targets.

Getting hurt in a car accident is painful enough, but if firefighters have to respond, expect more pain -- in your wallet.

Starting next summer, the city plans to bill drivers in accidents that require an emergency response.

The so-called "crash tax" works like this: A car fire or accident with injury would cost you $490. A car fire without injury, $415. And any vehicle accident without injury will run you $365.

"Definitely a sign of the times and disappointing, both," said Jack Bashkow of Midtown.

"It's a new reality for New York. It's not the social contract," said Larry Horowitz of the Upper West Side.

Drivers CBS 2's Sean Hennessey spoke to on Thursday night were none too pleased.

"I think it's kind of crude. It's basically inhumane to leave someone sitting there, laying there," said Lisa Kohn of the Upper West Side.

Hennessey: "That's not to say they're not going to treat you, but they're going to charge you for it."

Kohn: "Well, the question is can they collect?"

The FDNY says: "We want to relieve pressure on the taxpayer and place it on those at fault and their insurance. Right now if you're at fault at an accident or a vehicle fire, you get a free ride. And that should not be borne by the taxpayers."

But under the plan, you'll get charged even if the accident isn't your fault.

"Why should I be charged for something that I didn't cause? Send a bill to the guy who caused it. That has nothing to do with me," said the Upper West Side's Ariel Schachter.

Few want this, especially those in their cars all the time.


WCBS 880's Sean Adams gets reaction from the Insurance Association.

"That's not right to send a bill because the accident ... nobody do it willingly," taxi driver Mohammad Khan said.

The FDNY said it'll hold public hearings next month and that they'll take the public's concern into consideration. But because the idea doesn't need City Council approval, and already has the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, most expect its implementation to be a given.

The proposal is set to take effect July 1 and is expected to raise $1 million in revenue.

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