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NYC traffic deaths spur de Blasio crackdown

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio comforts Osmon Nahian

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio comforts Osmon Nahian as they look at a photo of Nahian's 8 year-old son, Noshat Hasan Nahian, who was fatally struck by a truck last December as he walked to school. (Jan. 15, 2014) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Mayor Bill de Blasio Wednesday announced a wide-ranging crackdown on reckless driving, including plans to issue more tickets, lower the speed limit on dangerous streets and assign more cops to highway patrol.

De Blasio, who noted that seven pedestrians have been killed so far this year in New York City and nearly 2,000 in the past decade, said he wants to reduce fatalities to as close to zero as possible.

"We think there is an epidemic here," said de Blasio, standing a block from a Woodside, Queens, crosswalk where an 8-year-old going to school was struck and killed last month.

Starting Thursday, speeding motorists caught by automatic cameras deployed at intersections throughout the city will begin receiving tickets, de Blasio said. Previously, they received only warnings.

He declined to say where the cameras are or are not located, so as not to tip off speeders.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said his department was increasing its highway patrol division by 50 percent, to 270 people, including investigators and supervisors. Many of them are to attend accident-investigation courses at Northwestern University's Traffic Safety School.

"A life lost is a life lost, whether by murder or by traffic accident, and the department is committed to every way, shape and form in reducing the loss of life," Bratton said.

Bratton, citing statistics that pedestrian error contributed to 73 percent of accidents, did not rule out the possibility that wayward pedestrians could be ticketed too.

De Blasio said the city's Transportation Department would "significantly" expand the number of streets where the speed limit is lowered to 20 mph from 30.

De Blasio, Bratton and other administration officials spoke at a news conference surrounded by families whose loved ones had died in traffic accidents. Among them was Audrey Anderson of Far Rockaway, whose son, Andre, 14, was hit and killed by an SUV in 2005 while riding his bike in Rockaway Beach.

"He was dead. Instantly," Anderson said. "My loss is with me every day. There are days I just cry. You're walking on the subway, on the job, at home -- I can't even attend family functions and not think about him. It's deep and it's personal."

In December, 8-year-old Noshat Hasan Nahian was crossing busy Northern Boulevard at 61st Street in Woodside when he was struck by a tractor-trailer. The driver, Mauricio Osorio-Palominos, has been charged with driving without a license.

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