The Driver Accountability Program is an innovative response to driving-related offenses that seeks to improve traffic safety and increase accountability among dangerous drivers.
The program consists of a 90-minute session rooted in principles of restorative justice, self-reflection, and self-empowerment. Participants actively engage in exercises and discussions guided by a trained facilitator. Groups are offered in English and Spanish. After a brief introduction, participants complete a questionnaire that requires them to rate and describe their driving beliefs and behaviors, forcing them to engage in meaningful self-reflection. Participants are then asked to share their answers, which are used as a framework for a broader discussion about what constitutes dangerous driving and why. A critical component of the program is the incorporation of the voices of victims. Participants watch “Drive Like Your Family Lives Here,” a video that includes testimonials from those who have lost loved ones to traffic violence. Facilitators then lead a discussion about the video and the importance of thinking more broadly about one’s place on the roads and in the broader community.
In the latter part of the session, participants are required to identify two to three driving behaviors they are committed to changing along with concrete steps for getting there. The goal is to empower the participants to become agents of their own change, making it more likely that they will follow through and hold themselves accountable in the future.
The program curriculum was developed by the Center for Court Innovation with input from a working group that included New York City Council Member Brad Lander, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the New York Police Department, Families for Safe Streets, and Transportation Alternatives.