By Jim Greene
on January 10, 2011
Officials in New York City are preparing to charge motorists involved in car crashes for emergency response services. A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for next month, with the plan tentatively scheduled to go into effect on July 1.
According to the plan by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), just showing up at a crash scene will result in a bill of $365. If a vehicle fire is extinguished, the cost increases to $415; if there are injuries, the cost will be $490, whether or not there is a fire.
City Hopes Plan Will Save $1 Million a Year
The nation’s largest municipal fire department can no longer afford to provide emergency services at no cost to motorists, according to an FDNY statement about the plan. It is hoped that charging motorists will save the city about $1 million per year.
FDNY spokesman Steve Ritea said his department wants to “relieve pressure on taxpayers” and shift the financial burden for traffic-related emergency response services to those who benefit from them.
Although Ritea initially characterized the FDNY plan as shifting the burden to “those at fault” in a crash, he admitted that the plan currently calls for bills to be presented to whoever was involved in the incident, without determining fault.
Bills to Include Insurance Filing Instructions
According to the plan, FDNY will advise motorists on how to submit bills for emergency response services to their insurance carriers.
In some instances, the department may choose not to bill a motorist, Ritea said. He gave the example of a tree falling on a car.
City officials pointed out that their plan is not without precedent, noting that 55 cities in California have adopted similar fees and 20 more are considering them.
Some cities also charge for responding to residential fires, but Ritea said FDNY has no current plans to do so.
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