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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams, DCAS Commissioner Dawn Pinnock Implement New Technology on City Fleet Cars to Reduce Speeds and Save Lives

August 11, 2022

Commissioner Dawn Pinnock, Department of Citywide Administrative Services: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Dawn Pinnock and I proudly serve as the commissioner for the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services, more commonly known as DCAS. And I'm so delighted to join all of you for this special announcement. DCAS is extremely proud of the work we are doing to make New York City's fleet safer, more efficient, and environmentally sound. That's reflected in safety pilots like the one we're launching today.

Commissioner Pinnock: But before I continue, I would like to first thank Mayor Adams for his unwavering leadership and his support as we explore and roll out new safety features. Executive director of Transportation Alternatives Danny Harris who has joined us today. Our entire fleet management team, especially Keith Kerman, who has been a visionary leader in fleet innovation. Our sister agencies that are participating in the Intelligent Speed Assistance pilot, including the Parks Department, the Department of Transportation — and Commissioner Rodriguez, who's been a long standing supporter of our work — the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Corrections, the Taxi and Limousine Commission, Housing Preservation and Development, the Mayor's Office of Operations, and the Business Integrity Commission. I'd also like to thank Lindsay Greene, president and CEO of Brooklyn Navy Yard Corporation, for having us in her space today. Lastly and certainly not least, I'd like to acknowledge our interns from the Automotive High Schools who are here with us today. They're truly all future leaders.

Commissioner Pinnock: Our city's fleet is critical to the work we do in service of all New Yorkers. With the new Intelligent Speed Assistance, ISA technology, we can literally put a stop to speeding and making our fleet vehicles safer for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists. When installed, drivers who attempt to exceed the posted speed limit are thwarted by the technology, and the car will automatically decelerate. It has the potential to save lives and restrict fleet operators from disregarding the rules. The active ISA retrofits we are adding to 50 fleet vehicles are part of this pilot, and they will help us reimagine the possibilities for the future, a future where fleet operators fortify their positions as standard bearers and set the tone for safe driving in New York City.

Commissioner Pinnock: It's just one of the many ways we are implementing new features and strategies to improve safety behind the wheel. With our defensive driving courses, telematics, surround and dash cameras, and vehicle safety systems, safety is at the heart of the city's fleet. We're already making strides. Excessive speeding by fleet operators is down 52% in the last two years, and injuries from crashes are down 20% during the same time period. We hope this pilot will build upon the success and reinforce New York City's position as the leader in fleet management.

Commissioner Pinnock: With that, please join me in offering a warm welcome to someone who is setting the tone for innovation in all aspects of city government, our mayor, Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Thank you, Dawn. Where are our interns? Are they here?

Commissioner Pinnock: Interns?

Mayor Adams: Good look, good look, good look. Like that. So, I say it over and over again about every crisis and every issue that we are facing in the city, that there are many rivers that feed the sea of these crises, and so there are many rivers that feed the sea of traffic fatalities and crashes, and we have been constantly damming each river. We dammed the river by getting Albany to reinstitute or to put in place 24/7 speed cameras. We're damming the river by enforcement. We're damming the river by going after those illegal dirt bikes that are just a terror on our streets. We're removing hundreds of those bikes and we're going to continue to do that. We dam the river when we put in place technology that can let us monitor remotely if our drivers of our city fleet, if they are actually following the speed limit.

Mayor Adams: Now we're going to improve on the damming of that river by allowing technology to gauge if they're speeding or not. Right now, it depends on the human interaction and sometimes the distractions on the road prevent the humans from staying within the speed limit. But now these new vehicles and this new technology that we're using is going to do just the opposite. It's going to kick in gear and continue to use technology to make us safer, to make sure that we are able to lead from the front.

Mayor Adams: I talk about how important it is to have safety behind the wheel of a vehicle. This is another evolution of that, and traffic safety is public safety. Transportation Alternatives has been stating this for years. It is a talking point that many of us embrace, and to have this part of how we use our city fleet is going to send the right message.

Mayor Adams: Today, the city is leading by example with the installation of intelligent speed assisted technology in 50 of our city fleet vehicles. If this is a successful pilot, we want to see this go throughout every vehicle that we are using in our city fleet. Unlike traditional speed governors, this intelligent governance piece of equipment will adjust the vehicle speed as the vehicle travels through locations with different speed limits.

Mayor Adams: I was impressed. I was asking a ton of questions like how did we know what's going on, and I was just impressed to see how this technology operates. It will ensure that speeding is impossible in city vehicles, restricting our vehicles' maximum speed. It's going to be impossible to speed beyond the speed limit. Even as the speed limit changes from highway to the streets, we are going to ensure that the vehicles stay within the speed limits.

Mayor Adams: Our fleets must always be focused on the road. That distraction is real, and sometimes that distraction leads to people speeding beyond the limits. We see it in some of the visual remote technology that we're using, but now we are damming this river even better than what we thought we were damming when we did the first level of technology.

Mayor Adams: We are urging New Yorkers to slow down, so we have to start with our fleets first. And we are going to push this narrative of driving slower, of the number of real injuries and fatalities. Clearly you see the correlation between these injuries and fatalities are connected to aggressive, fast driving, and we want to make sure that we, again, lead from the front. This adds onto what — the river that we're damming about intersections. $900 million, a thousand intersections. Commissioner Rodriguez, already 500 intersections towards our goal. We're sure we're going to reach the numbers that we want this year. But this is all part of how we dam the rivers, including the $4 million in campaign that we're using to constantly inform New Yorkers. No matter what language they speak, it is about how do we ensure safety is safety?

Mayor Adams: No one feels it's an easy notification. When you tell a loved one that you lost someone due to traffic crashes. We want to do everything that we could possibly do to alleviate if not eradicate those crashes, and this is a mechanism that we're using. I'm looking forward to testing the product as we drive and stay within the 15 mile an hour speed limit here in this location.

Mayor Adams: So, good job Dawn. Using innovation for safety is something I talked about over and over again, and now we are moving forward with the implementation of it. This is how you get stuff done. Dawn?

Commissioner Pinnock: Thank you so much, Mr. Mayor. Next we have the executive director for Transportation Alternatives, Danny Harris.


Mayor Adams: Excellent, excellent. Hold on, why don't we... They may have some questions on the technology, so why don't we... Dawn, whoever's going to answer those questions. If you have some questions on the technology, why don't we ask Dawn. Commissioner?

Question: So, just walk me through how this technology works. Based on the posted speed limit, how does this technology know what the posted speed limit is in the area? At what point does it stop the cars at one or two miles per hour for the speed limit? 

Deputy Commissioner Keith Kerman, Chief Fleet Officer, Department of Citywide Administrative Services: Okay, hi. Keith Kerman, the chief fleet officer for the city. We have telematics in the cars, so we are tracking the vehicles as they drive through the city, and we have the speed limits overlaid over those telematics throughout the city. So, as you drive the car, and we set this for a 15 mile hour zone, as you attempt to go over 15, the vehicle will not allow you to accelerate over 15. So if you really try hard, you'll get to 16 or 17, and then the vehicle will draw you back. It's what's really doing is it will not allow the car to accelerate once it's exceeded the speed limit, and that's how it works. We've been operating 50 of them for two to three weeks now, so we've already done 10,000 plus miles. We drove here in it, and so far, so good.

Mayor Adams: I’m gonna ask you to stay here, because you my tech guy. You're the tech guy.

Deputy Commissioner Kerman: I'm here for you.

Question: Any specific department that's using these vehicles right now, or is it across the board? Who's using these cars?

Deputy Commissioner Kerman:  In this initial pilot, we're doing nine different agencies. Commissioner Pinnock can mention those agencies and we can get you that list. 16 different makes and models. Obviously, cars are designed differently, so we want to test this across a broad variety of makes and models in six types, sedans, SUVs, pickups, vans, and then two types of trucks. So we want to test this in this broad variety of vehicles we have. The city fleet is complicated. We operate over 150 types of vehicles, so to roll something like this out, we have to be thoughtful and work it through in all the different types of vehicles.

Question: Just a quick follow up, can you give us the numbers, how big the city fleet is right now? I know Mayor Adams wanted to [inaudible] the year. And then second is that, Mayor Adams, will you be driven around in those kind of fleets? Suburbans?

Deputy Commissioner Kerman: Well, the size of the city fleet and the city fleet is going to be decreasing, so it'll be smaller the next time we update on it. But is about 29,400 vehicles in total. About 5,000 of those are off road equipment pieces, so about 24,500 on road. Lots of what we call the city fleet are things like light towers and generators and forklifts. They're not the on road vehicles that people associate with vehicles.

Deputy Commissioner Kerman: As the mayor mentioned, we are going to do a test and assessment over the next six months. We've actually partnered with the United States Department of Transportation Volpe Center to do that, and we think this is going to be successful. We may have to do some tweaks here or there, and then we're going to work to expand this technology throughout the city fleet.

Mayor Adams: To answer your question, exempted currently from this technology are emergency vehicles and my vehicle at this time will be exempted as one of the use of emergency vehicles. But how my vehicles are used is determined by the police department dealing with the safety apparatus. They make that determination.

Question: I have a related question, and I guess it's the question of overall safety for city police driving. You might think it's a stretch, but I think it's all the same family. A lot of city employees, cops, firefighters, they park in city lots with obstructed plates, they use or abuse or misuse placards, and obstructing the plate is to evade speed camera tickets, red light cameras, and oftentimes tolls. So I don't know if the DCAS commissioner or the mayor, if there's any kind of initial enforcement under the previous mayor had, I guess, introduced some plan to prevent placard abuse. But it just seems like you go around any city building, whether it's a precinct or a fire department, you'll see, it's like shooting fish in a barrel, obstructed plates, plates that are folded over, literally taped over, or they're misusing placards. So if there's any future plans to better enforce this for city employees to not misuse their own personal vehicles?

Mayor Adams: Yes, and what you do, you do it locally. Every precinct and every command has an ICO, an Integrity Control Officer. We have been underutilizing the Integrity Control Officers. I stated this before, and I had a series of conversations with the chief of patrol, Chief Maddrey, that to ensure our product on the ground is at the level that we expected. It is important to have first frontline supervision, and the Integrity Control Officer, they are going to play a major role to do those visual observations, do inspections around their precincts, make sure that everyone is compliant.

Mayor Adams: There's no reason to have obstructed plates. There's no reason to put tape on your plate and do things that are inappropriate. We have to keep ourselves to a higher standard. If we're expecting more from motorists, then we have to live up to that expectation. You can't enforce the law if you're breaking the law, and so it's our Integrity Control Officers. We have had a series of meetings with them, and stated that it's time to kick in gear. I need them to be on the frontline to make sure our officers are doing what they're supposed to do for those small numbers that are violated. Because I go by precincts all the time. I was in the PSA two days ago, none of those plates were obstructed. I walked around, I looked at the plates. Everyone was compliant with the rules. So, that numerical minority must understand that they are going to comply.

Question: Mr. Mayor, just wondering, you mentioned your car being classified as an emergency vehicle. Just wondering why it's classified that way, and also what do you do in general as far as instructing your detail to prevent speeding?

Mayor Adams: Always tell them to do so, because anything could happen in the city any time of night that may cause us to move at a non-traditional rapid speed. If I have an explosion, if I have a plane landing on the river, if I have any type of emergency, this is a real city with real problems and real issues, and I don't need for you to be at the scene saying, "Why did it take the mayor so long to get there?" So, we will be smart when we drive. With this attachment or without this attachment, we're going to be safe as we move through the streets. But in a real world like New York's, there are moments when we have to get someplace in a hurry to make these decisions that happen in the city.

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