Alex Goldmark is the senior producer of Note to Self, a storytelling show about how technology is changing society. Subscribe here to get Note to Self shows delivered right to your devices. Follow him on Twitter @alexgoldmark.
NYPD Cracks Down on Speeding, Safety Activists Applaud
Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 12:15 PM
The New York Police Department issued 736 tickets for speeding over the weekend in what it called a "speed enforcement initiative." It is unclear if this marks a shift in traffic policing policy, or a one-off effort.
The NYPD said "there were 266 summonses issued in Queens, 213 in the Bronx, 113 in Brooklyn, 97 in Manhattan and 47 in Staten Island."
Safety advocates have long criticized the NYPD for not focusing enforcement on the traffic violations most likely to lead to injury and death: speeding and not yielding to pedestrians. The implication is that speeding goes unchecked.
"Transportation Alternatives applauds the NYPD's groundbreaking speeding enforcement initiative," the organization said in an email.
We've asked the NYPD if more of these crackdowns are planned, or if there will be more routine speeding enforcement initiatives. It's also unclear at this point if the tickets were issued on highways, with a 50 mile-per-hour limit, or on local streets where pedestrians are the ones threatened by speeding. The NYPD has quietly shifted toward other policies that safety advocates have been requesting, including beefing up the division that investigates crashes, now renamed the Collision Investigation Squad, formerly the Accident Investigation Squad -- a name, critics say, implied that car crashes are unavoidable.
As we've reported before, speeding is the most deadly traffic violation in New York City, according to DMV data. The NYPD issued more than 71,000 speeding tickets last year. Yet one study found that 88 percent of cars were speeding in Brooklyn.
The oft-cited statistic of safety advocates and city officials alike is that a pedestrian struck by a vehicle going 40 miles-per-hour has an 80 percent chance of dying, while a pedestrian hit by a car traveling at 30 miles-per-hour has a 70 percent of surviving. This is partly why the city speed limit is 30 miles per hour on local streets.
Over the years, NYC streets have become considerably safer, with fatalities down 30 percent over the past decade. But when injuries and crash deaths ticked up last year, speeding was the top culprit.