Legislator John R. Ferretti Jr. doesn’t want to see people getting killed over stupidity. It’s bound to happen with people playing chicken, also known as a ride-out.
“You’ll see kids driving on the opposite side of the road, swerving in front of cars or driving towards them before darting away at the last possible second,” Ferretti said.
Teenagers, usually in groups, will take to busy streets or residential ones and stop short in front of cars. Sometimes, they’ll do wheelies. They’ll even film the events on a GoPro strapped to their helmets, later putting the video on YouTube and Facebook.
These antics are incredibly dangerous, putting not only the lives of the teenagers at risk, but also harming drivers who can easily veer off to the side of the road while trying to avoid the bikers. Now, Ferretti has put forth a pair of laws, one to punish these kids and the other to ensure overall safety for young cyclists.
“I drafted a law that describes precisely this type of behavior,” Ferretti said. “If you’re caught on these ride-outs, regardless of age, your bike can be confiscated by the police and impounded. If you’re 12 or older, you’ll be punished with a misdemeanor and punishable with a $100 fine.”
If the law passes the Nassau County Legislature, which Ferretti expects, it will prevent serious injury or worse before it happens. The more frequent this trend becomes, the chances of this happening increase. The fine would be sent to parents, unless the suspect is 16 or 17 years old, who would then be given the penalty. Parents will also have to pick up the impounded bikes from the Nassau County Police Department, as the culprits will not be allowed to do so.
Once the Legislature passes approves of the bills, County Executive Laura Curran will have to sign it into law, which Ferretti believes she will do.
An incident is bound to happen, and it’s not a joke.
“It’s been happening all summer,” he said. “Now, it will be clear.”
Obviously, no one wants a teenager to have a misdemeanor charge on the record, the legislator said. However, this law will show there are consequences for this dangerous, irresponsible behavior.
The trend is not specific to Levittown. Reports of ride-outs have spread across the country, and it’s getting worse in Levittown. Videos have surfaced of frustrated drivers confronting the kids, who then play victim and act as if they didn’t do anything wrong.
If the laws are approved, the cases will be handled by the family court system. Ferretti reached out to officers at the Eighth Precinct, who told him there’s nothing they can do about it because there is no law to fine them since they are minors. But the kids know the police can’t do much.
“Too many times, I’ve witnessed riding parties coming down Merrick Road, swerving in front of cars,” Legislator Bill Gaylor said at an Aug. 8 press conference. “No longer will the Nassau Police hands be tied when it comes to minors performing these incredibly dangerous acts.”
To ensure this law will be passed, Ferretti approached the majority in the county legislature. He discussed the law and said others have seen it in their regions as well.
The second bill Ferretti introduced will change the age requirement to have people wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or in-line skates. If the law is signed by the county executive, it will raise the law from ages 15 to 18, meaning kids will have to wear helmets until 18. It doesn’t change the $50 fine that is already in place.
Those who are against the two laws, Ferretti said, are confused. Teenagers will be charged with a misdemeanor only if they’re playing chicken and putting people’s lives, including their own, at risk. However, no charges will be filed for those not wearing a helmet, nor will their bikes be taken away.
“This kind of behavior has to stop,” Ferretti said. “I’ll do my part to ensure this behavior ends now.”