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Katy Tang

Supervisors Tang and Yee Propose New Measures to Curb Dangerous Driving

Supervisors Katy Tang and Norman Yee announced measures on Tuesday they say could help reduce dangerous driving on SF streets, bringing the city closer to Vision Zero.

Supervisors Katy Tang and Norman Yee. Photos: Aaron Bialick

Yee called for a study into whether city-owned vehicles could have "black boxes" to record evidence in the event of a crash, and for banning tour bus drivers from talking to passengers. Tang proposed a resolution urging the state to "re-evaluate" fines levied for five dangerous driving violations in SF.

"We recognize that it takes a combination of enforcement, education, and engineering to keep our community safe," Tang said in a statement. "However, we continuously hear from the community about the prevalence of these dangerous driving behaviors. It is our hope that reevaluating, and perhaps raising, the cost of engaging in these behaviors will prove to be an effective deterrent."

Tang's resolution would urge the California Judicial Council "to reevaluate the base fines, and related fees, for violations of the California Vehicle Code related to some of the most dangerous driving behaviors in San Francisco," says a press release from her office. "This includes: running stop signs, violating pedestrian right-of-way, failing to yield while turning, cell phone use while driving, and unsafe passing of standing streetcar, trolley coach, or bus safety zones."

Three of those violations are part of SFPD's "Focus on the Five" campaign, a pledge by police to target what the department's data have identified as the five most common causes of pedestrian crashes. Speeding and red-light running by drivers are on the SFPD's list, but not on Tang's, which instead calls for higher fines for cell phone and unsafe passing citations.

"While the baseline [fine] for running a stop sign, violating a pedestrian's right of way, and unsafe passing of a standing streetcar is $35, the baseline for violating a red light is $100," Tang said at a board meeting.

Yee, meanwhile, called for the City Budget Analyst to evaluate the cost of installing "black boxes," also known as event data recorders, on every city vehicle in order to record evidence in the event of a crash. Yee said that he and Supervisor Jane Kim learned about the idea at the recent Vision Zero Symposium held in New York City. Yee said NYC has black boxes on all of its municipal vehicles.

"I think installing this piece of equipment on our city fleet will make make our streets safer, and drivers more aware of their driving behavior," Yee said on Tuesday. "These boxes can provide critical safety information and help evaluate what happened during a crash, and what future steps could be taken to save lives and prevent injuries."

Yee also asked the City Attorney to draft legislation to ban tour bus drivers from from talking to passengers, to prevent crashes like the one that killed 68-year-old Priscila “Precy” Moreto in the crosswalk at City Hall's doorstep. The driver in that crash was apparently distracted -- he was explaining information about City Hall to his riders when he ran over Moreto, who worked in the City Controller's Office.

"Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on our streets," said Yee, himself a pedestrian crash victim. "It took Miss Moreto... I am committed to improving safety on our streets, and this is the first step towards that goal."

Yee's aide said he will seek a citywide ban on talking by tour bus drivers, as well as a more expansive change to state law.

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