Law Enforcement

More vigorous law enforcement against dangerous driving behavior holds great potential to affect a rapid drop in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Analysis of the past five years of traffic fatalities shows that 70% of pedestrian fatalities have causes outside of the pedestrian’s control, particularly drivers speeding or failing to yield. The injuries and deaths from these actions are preventable. Police Department (NYPD) targeted enforcement against signal violations, improper turns, failure to yield to pedestrians, phoning/texting while driving and speeding, therefore, has the potential to reduce the frequency of these behaviors and save lives. Stronger enforcement saves lives, reduces injuries and collisions and ensures safety for everyone on the street.

Vision Zero demands a strong street presence and increased street-level enforcement against dangerous driving. NYPD will target the most dangerous driving behaviors and step up enforcement against drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians, drive distracted and who choose to speed or ignore traffic signals. NYPD will issue more speeding summonses at the precinct level and will acquire additional advanced speed guns and increase the number of officers trained to use them. The City will also increase the number of speed guns available to the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). TLC will create a new safety enforcement squad with special speed and safety-specific training and equipped with speed guns to crack down on those drivers who the City entrusts with taxi and other for-hire licenses.

Data analysis informs every aspect of the City’s response to the Vision Zero challenge. The introduction of tools to better identify problematic intersections, corridors and driving behaviors and target resources is essential to success. NYPD will expand the range of analyses presented at TrafficStat meetings to better understand the locations and causes of crashes. Collision history will be reviewed for a two-year period, in addition to the current methodology of reviewing the last 28 days. This two-year data sample will more accurately reflect chronic traffic collision patterns citywide and will help minimize the presence of statistical noise. In addition, more emphasis will immediately be given at TrafficStat meetings to speeding and failure to yield summonses. In 2013, NYPD issued 350,000 moving violations summonses, including 83,000 for speeding, 15,000 for failure to yield, and 150,000 for cell phone use or texting while driving. NYPD will immediately enhance enforcement in these areas. Precincts will continually explore innovative tactics to best protect pedestrians and bicyclists.

NYPD will also update its computer systems to ensure that crash information is presented in as effective a way as possible. This data will be shared across all relevant City agencies. Further, improved methodologies will be implemented to allow NYPD to closely scrutinize all intersections at which a pedestrian fatality or critical injury takes place.

NYPD’s increased focus on crash data collection and quality investigations is crucial to better prosecution efforts. NYPD will also enhance the training of all officers in the preparation of collison reports. In addition, NYPD will replace the outdated “Traffic Accident Management System” (TAMS) to improve the Department’s capacity for crash analysis. Technologies can be updated to provide more data points used to determine appropriate collision prevention measures and provide better evidence for prosecutors. The NYPD will meet with relevant stakeholders to determine how best to make its data available to the public.

This data-driven enforcement will be underpinned by extensive collaboration between agencies; including monthly meetings of NYPD Transportation Bureau and DOT traffic engineers to analyze traffic safety data and set strategies for improvement, and increased dialogue with other agencies that serve high-risk populations such as seniors and children. Regularly scheduled meetings with members of the transportation advocacy community will also ensure New Yorkers’ concerns are heard and will receive consideration. With this feedback, with the input of local community boards, and with the assistance of Auxiliary Police Officers, Traffic Enforcement Agents, School Crossing Guards, and pedestrian managers, NYPD precincts will modify their traffic safety plans to increase focus on pedestrian and bicyclist safety components. These plans will include increased enforcement of hazardous moving violations and the deployment of Traffic Enforcement Agents to problematic intersections, particularly in the evening and late nights, when crashes are most common.

Automated enforcement, including the deployment of speed cameras and red light cameras, will play a key role in New York City’s Vision Zero goals. As New York’s Red Light Camera program has proven, strong traffic enforcement can not only catch current offenders but deter future ones. Since the program’s inception in 1988, the City’s 190 Red Light Cameras have issued over four million violations. Intersections where red light cameras were installed saw a 20% decline in all injuries, a 31% decrease in pedestrian injuries, and a 25% decrease in serious injuries in the three years after installation. The cameras have also deterred bad behavior—the number of violations issued declined by 22% from 2010 to 2011.

In Washington, D.C., at intersections where speed cameras are in use, the number of crashes and injuries has gone down by 20%. Mayor de Blasio launched the enforcement phase of the program on January 15, 2014 — issuance of $50 speeding summonses is now ongoing at speed camera locations. In 2013, New York State lawmakers approved the introduction of speed–radar cameras at 20 locations near schools. In establishing the program and alerting New Yorkers to its presence in late 2013, DOT issued 17,000 warnings to speeders at six camera locations. These programs must be expanded. The City will advocate for legislation in Albany that will allow New York City to dramatically expand its red light and speed camera programs.

Expanding the Reach of Automated Enforcement

In Washington, D.C., law enforcement has embraced automated technology as a tool to help cops catch traffic criminals. In addition to extensive use of red light and speed cameras, Washington D.C. recently deployed a variety of innovative enforcement cameras on its streets, including 32 stop sign cameras, 20 blocking the box cameras, 16 failure-to-yield crosswalk cameras and eight oversize vehicle cameras. —Washington Post, Jan. 27, 2014

Stronger Laws Drive Down Pedestrian Fatalities

In greater London, pedestrian fatalities have dropped by over 75% since the late 1980s. This substantial improvement follows the institution of stronger traffic laws and prosecution. A recent study found that drivers were convicted of one or more crimes in 35% of studied pedestrian fatality cases in Greater London. The single most common conviction was careless driving, with the next most common being dangerous driving (equivalent to reckless driving in the U.S.). Penalties for causing death by dangerous driving range from 2 to 14 years jail time, with revocation of the driver’s license for a minimum of two years. Determining the penalty for dangerous driving includes such factors as “failing to have proper regard for vulnerable road users” and “driving above the speed limit/at a speed that is inappropriate for the prevailing conditions.” London has also installed speed and red light cameras at high-crash locations. Transport for London estimates that these cameras are preventing 500 deaths or serious injuries per year.