Jun. 8, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed
For many years, Fresh Meadows residents have been fed up with drivers causing a disturbance with late-night drag racing in parking lots. Now, civic leaders are hailing a bill that would prohibit reckless driving in the community.
Senator John Liu and Assemblymember Nily Rozic announced that momentum is building for the statewide legislation, S760B, that was introduced in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic in response to an increase in extreme and reckless driving in parking lots.
The bill, which is sponsored by Liu, adds “parking lots” to the definition of reckless driving, allowing such displays to be enforced by local law enforcement as a misdemeanor charge.
“Parking lots in and around Fresh Meadows have long served as impromptu gathering spots for late-night drag races and slideshows where drivers would engage in donuts and other reckless driving before large crowds of spectators,” Liu said. “These dangerous activities put lives and property at risk and have no place in our community, and this legislation looks to empower our local law enforcement with the authority to address these incidents when they occur on private property.”
Rozic, who is the sponsor of Assembly bill, A402, said reckless driving in parking lots poses a great danger to communities across New York.
“Compliance with traffic rules and regulations is just as crucial off the street, where pedestrians and bystanders continue to be a target. I commend the Senate for passing this important piece of legislation and look forward to doing the same in the Assembly,” Rozic said.
Fresh Meadows civic leaders said they’re grateful to the lawmakers for their efforts in addressing the problem.
Maria Deinnocentiis, president of the Utopia Estates Civic Association, said the community has been inundated with illegal drag racing in local shopping centers for years.
“These areas are surrounded by apartment buildings. The residents are frustrated as the lots are private property so police cannot step in with enforcement,” Deinnocentiis said. “This bill will give them the necessary tools to help the community regain our quality of life. We thank Senator Liu for all his efforts to get this done.”
Elaine Young, president of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, said reckless driving, such as doing ‘donuts’ in the local shopping center and park parking lots, has been a “scourge on the community,” adding that it’s “unsafe and that the noise that it produces is untenable.”
According to Sol Sturm, president of the Fresh Meadows Tenant Association, residents have been inundated with stunt drivers in parking lots for a few years now.
“It is good news that the state Senate is finally adding parking lots to the areas where the drivers can be charged with reckless driving. Hopefully, the Assembly will follow suit, and then the bill will be signed by the Governor,” Sturm said.
James Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, thanked the legislators for working to keep the community safe.
“Now we must continue our advocacy to ensure the Assembly and governor will sign this bill into law so the parking lots like those we have all over Fresh Meadows can be free from the reckless driving that has plagued us for far too long,” Gallagher said.