NYC: Six Months of Vision Zero Traffic Enforcement

Posted by Content Coordinator on Friday, August 1st, 2014


Despite two decades of steady declines,traffic fatalities remain an epidemic in New York City. More people are killed in 
traffic than are murdered by guns;traffic crashes are the foremost cause of preventable death for New York City children 
and, after falls,the primary cause of injury-related death for older New Yorkers.

In February 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a Vision Zero initiative –with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and 
serious injuries in New York City by 2024 –which the New York Police Department embraced wholeheartedly, instructing 
all precinct commanders to increase enforcement of the most dangerous traffic violations.Increased enforcement
remains a central element to achieving Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero goal.

Transportation Alternatives’ Report Card: Six Months of Vision Zero Traffic Enforcement reveals that citywide enforcement of 
the most dangerous traffic violations – speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians – has skyrocketed in the past year. 
Comparing the first six months of 2014 to the same period of 2013, summonses for speeding increased by 32 percent 
and summonses for failure to yield increased by 153 percent, an effort which has saved countless New Yorkers from 
death and injury.

However, according to T.A.research and analysis,the widespread effort to expand enforcement of the most dangerous 
violations does not extend to every NYPD precinct. In fact, wide disparities exist between the heroic efforts of NYPD 
precincts that have increased their enforcement of the most dangerous violations and adjacent precincts where 
summonsing has actually decreased.

In order to create more consistency across precincts, T.A. recommends that the NYPD establish an executive officer in 
each Borough Command who would be solely dedicated to coordinating traffic enforcement.

The Problem

Speeding is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in New York City. Drivers who fail to yield are the leading cause of injury to pedestrians. The majority of these traffic crashes are caused by drivers making dangerous choices2 and committing enforceable moving violations.

T.A.’s Mid-Year Report Card found that overall summonsing for speeding and failure to yield has markedly increased, but there are stark disparities in the level of enforcement between individual precincts. Some precincts have made great strides to deter drivers from dangerous behavior, buoying citywide numbers, while others issued fewer summonses than the prior year.

Most strikingly, T.A.’s investigation found a disparity among neighboring precincts. Adjacent precincts have similar street designs and traffic conditions, but in many cases, these precincts dramatically differ in enforcement efforts (See Images 1 and 2).

Here are some examples:

  • In Harlem, the 26th Precinct nearly doubled the number of speeding summonses issued from last year (294 to 533), while the adjacent 30th Precinct in Washington Heights issued half as many summonses as they did the prior year.
  • Along Queens Boulevard, the 110th Precinct wrote 860 failure to yield summonses so far this year, whereas the adjacent 108th precinct issued half as many.

This inconsistency is stark enough to undermine positive enforcement efforts. Varying levels of enforcement reinforce the mentality that a driver can “get away with it”. Every violation that goes unenforced is implicit encouragement for drivers to commit the violation again.

Image 1: Map of the most improved and least improved precincts in each Borough Command for speeding summonses, January to June 2013 versus 2014.

Download full version (PDF) – Report Card: Six Months of Vision Zero Traffic Enforcement

About Transportation Alternatives
Transportation Alternatives’ mission is to reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile and to promote bicycling, walking, public transit. With 100,000 active supporters and a committee of activists working locally in every borough, T.A. fights for the installation of infrastructure improvements that reduce speeding and traffic crashes, save lives and improve everyday transportation for all New Yorkers. 

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