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NYC Council To Vote On Traffic Safety Legislation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The New York City Council is set to pass a sweeping legislative package Thursday aimed at improving traffic safety.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the council will vote on 17 bills and resolutions that complement Mayor Bill de Blasio's "Vision Zero'' plan, which is aimed at eliminating all pedestrian, bicyclist and motorist deaths in the city.

Some of the changes include the designation of several new "slow zones'' with a reduced speed limit of 20 mph and tougher penalties on reckless motorists and cab drivers.

"We wanted to create a package to really enhance 'Vision Zero' and show a commitment to making our streets safer,'' Mark-Viverito told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

She said the time was right to focus on pedestrian safety, which has come into greater focus amid a rise in traffic deaths. Last year, 286 people were killed in traffic accidents in New York City, nearly as many as those who were homicide victims.

Other reforms include a mandate to fix all broken traffic signals within 24 hours, stricter regulations on taxi drivers and tougher penalties on motorists who do not yield to pedestrians or bicyclists who have the right of way.

"We want to change the culture of how drivers, pedestrians and cyclists interact,'' said Council member Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the council's transportation committee. "If a car causes an accident, I believe it's something that we can control."

Mark-Viverito said she expects all of the measures to pass the heavily Democratic council, which has held public hearings in all five boroughs.

But some, including efforts to give the city control over an expanded program of speed cameras and red light cameras, and a measure to enforce tougher penalties on infractions like leaving the scene of an accident, will need the approval of the state Legislature.

The speaker said she was optimistic, noting that state lawmakers recently voted to give the city 120 new speed cameras to go along with the 20 it already used.

The mayor set the deadline of 2024 to achieve his "Vision Zero" plan.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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