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De Blasio Initiative Aims To Slam Brakes On Deadly Traffic Accidents

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) –¬†Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for more cops, more speed cameras and reduced speed limits as part of an interagency push to make New York City’s streets safer for pedestrians.

In announcing his “Vision Zero” initiative Wednesday, de Blasio said a task force will be created comprising members of the NYPD, Transportation Department, Health Department and Taxi and Limousine Commission, who will develop strategies with the goal of eliminating deadly traffic accidents, especially those involving pedestrians.

Eleven New Yorkers have been killed in traffic accidents in the first two weeks of 2014, including seven pedestrians.

Starting Thursday, the city will use traffic cameras to issue more tickets — and not just warnings — to enforce the speed limits on certain streets.

“This is an example of where we will act immediately,” de Blasio said at a news conference Wednesday.

NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said cops will more strictly enforce driver hazards to pedestrian safety, such as texting and using cellphones while behind the wheel, speeding, ignoring signs or lights, making improper turns and failing to yield to pedestrians.

“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 reducing the loss of life,” Bratton said.

City officials plan to increase the number of red light and speed cameras, expand the number of 20-mph zones and increase the number of police officers investigating accidents and refer them to the district attorney if prosecution is warranted.

The city must receive approval from the state Legislature to install as many cameras as it deems necessary. The state currently has limits set for traffic cameras.

De Blasio announced the initiative at a news conference in Woodside, Queens, just steps away from a memorial on Northern Boulevard, where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed in December while crossing a busy intersection on his way to school.

Other families who experienced the same grief attended the event, including Amy Cohen, whose son, Sammy, was killed in October while chasing after a soccer ball on Prospect Park West in Brooklyn.

“Nobody else should really have to suffer like this,” she told WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond on Wednesday.

Audrey Anderson, whose 14-year-old son was killed by a speeding motorist in 2005, said his death still hants her.

“My loss is with me every day,” said the Far Rockaway woman told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer. “There are days I just cry like that.”

Cohen applauded the city’s efforts.

“It is an epidemic in New York, and something needs to be done,” she said. “And if this is the start, we’re hoping it starts to make a difference.”

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