Mayor Bill de Blasio Wednesday announced a wide-ranging crackdown on reckless driving, including plans to issue more tickets, lower the speed limit on dangerous streets and assign more cops to highway patrol.
De Blasio, who noted that seven pedestrians have been killed so far this year in New York City, along with nearly 2,000 in the last decade, said he wants to reduce the fatality statistics to as close to zero as possible.
“We think there is an epidemic here,” said de Blasio, standing a block from a Woodside, Queens, crosswalk where an 8-year-old going to school was struck and killed last month.
Starting Thursday, speeding motorists caught by automatic speed cameras deployed at intersections throughout the city will begin receiving tickets, de Blasio said. Previously, they received only warnings. He declined to say where the cameras are and aren’t located, so as not to tip off speeders.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the police would be increasing the highway patrol division this includes investigators, so it’s not just highway patrol by 50%, to 270 personnel, including investigators and supervisors. Many of them will attend accident-investigation courses at Northwestern University’s traffic school. “A life lost is a life lost, whether by murder or by traffic accident, and the department is committed to every way, shape and form in reducing the loss of life,” Bratton said.
Bratton, citing statistics that pedestrian error contributed to 73% of accidents, did not rule out the possibility that wayward pedestrians could be ticketed too. De Blasio said the city’s Transportation Department would “significantly” expand the number of streets where the speed limit is lowered to 20 miles per hour from 30 mph. De Blasio, Bratton and other officials spoke at a news conference surrounded by families whose loved ones had died in traffic accidents.
A working group will report to the mayor by Feb. 15 with concrete plans to:
-Add NYPD personnel to deter speeding and drivers’ failure to yield to pedestrians.
-Improve 50 dangerous corridors and intersections a year.
-Expand 20-mph zones.
-Pursue a traffic safety legislative agenda, including home rule on traffic cameras, so New York City can deploy red-light and speed enforcement cameras based on safety needs.
As immediate measures:
-Mayor de Blasio announced that recently installed speed cameras will be used to start issuing tickets to enforce the speed limit.
-An increase in the number of personnel assigned to the Highway Division, which enforces laws on serious traffic violations. Since taking office, NYPD Commissioner Bratton increased the division’s staffing by 10%, with a goal of increasing it by 50%, to 270 officers.
-Mayor will meet with victims’ families and collaborate to enact the Vision Zero plan.