NYPD Starting to Roll Out Traffic Safety Data Online

Traffic crash data, long a closely guarded secret of the NYPD, is now slowly being released online.

Pursuant to the Saving Lives Through Better Information Act, which took effect Wednesday, the department will begin posting monthly updates on summonses and crashes, differentiated by mode of travel and contributing factors and broken down by precinct and borough. Eventually, crash data will also be mapped.

The first data dump is limited to summonses, issued in May and in the year to date. At first look it appears that NYPD is concentrating on cell phones and seat belts — with 81,639 and roughly 82,000 summonses, respectively, handed out this year. Meanwhile, only 36,660 drivers have been ticketed for speeding citywide as of the end of May, and the vast majority of them were cited by the Transportation Bureau, which includes NYPD Highway Patrol. When you drill down to the neighborhood-level data on local streets, speeding enforcement is almost non-existent.

In Manhattan’s 34th Precinct, where I live, no speeding tickets were issued in May. The number of drivers cited for speeding so far in my precinct in 2011? Seven, or about as many as can be observed whipping down a neighborhood block every minute or two on any given day.

Officers with the 94th Precinct joined TA's bicycle ambassadors to hand out flyers at a dangerous intersection in Williamsburg. Photo: Transportation Alternatives

The value of this information can hardly be overstated, and we wouldn’t have it without Transportation Alternatives and Jessica Lappin, who shepherded this bill through City Council. There’s a reason advocates have for years pushed to make crash data available to the public. Says TA: “Formerly, traffic’s chaos was anecdotal; vocal citizens storytelling too many crashes and nary a summons in response. Now the NYPD is required to publish exactly what they do to curb dangerous traffic. New York City is a safer place than it was 20 years ago because of NYPD crime data: analyzed, transparent, published. Now, with traffic data published too, TA expects equivalent reduction in traffic’s danger.”

Another positive development is the collaboration between TA and NYPD to use traffic data to promote safety. Officers from the 94th Precinct in Brooklyn joined TA Wednesday in handing out flyers to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers at North 6th Street and Kent Avenue, an intersection revealed by traffic stats to be particularly dangerous. TA will also be coordinating with neighborhood advocates to discuss data at precinct community council meetings this summer.

  • Anonymous

    Is that a cop on a bike? 

  • PaulCJr

    I’m glad to see NYPD out on bikes with T.A.. Hopefully this will be the begaining of better relations between the PD and cyclist.

  • BK Bro

    Wow. in the first precinct, just 16 of 4776 violations are for speeding; in another, 117 of 49010. That’s one-fifth of 1 percent. Apparently driving the wrong way down the street is 4x more common than speeding. Am I missing something here?

  • Kevin CS

    Great work, TA!  More data + building relationships w/ NYPD = All street users benefit.  Thanks for advocating for us all!

  • J

    The 88th precinct in Brooklyn, has issued a paltry 8 summons for speeding and 3 summons for not yielding ROW to peds in 2011, in a district that includes Lafayette, Classon and Atlantic avenues. All of these are known for speeding and aggressive driving. On the other hand, they have given out 1,163 summons for driving while on a cell phone, which is good. Still, speeding is the leading contributor to death in collisions, and cops should be enforcing that law the most.

  • Ty

    Are we going to start seeing more cops on bikes?  (Ya know, like most other big cities.)

    That would really be great.

    And this growing cooperation between the NYPD and advocacy groups, like TA, is really heartening.  I hope it continues!!!

  • The Ninth Precinct, which includes Houston, 14th, and First and Second Avenues, has issued ONE speeding ticket so far this year. I can’t wait to find out how many of their 294 “fail to stop on signal” tickets were issued to cyclists.

  • Anonymous

    I saw that cop riding on Bedford Ave earlier this week.  He was riding in the wrong direction.

  • J

    I see regularly see cops in CARS driving the wrong direction down streets. No flashers or anything.

  • Chris,

    Don’t feel too bad…the 19th, where I live, is the most populous precint in the city (it spans the entire Upper East Side, with 217,000 people), and they only issued 9 speeding summonses so far this year!

  • BK Bro

    When they rolled out bike cops in Seattle, they were the laughing stock of the country – until it worked.

  • Jeff

    This level of enforcement is embarrassing!  No wonder NYPD was so against this legislation!

  • Jeff

    This level of enforcement is embarrassing!  No wonder NYPD was so against this legislation!

  • Joe R.

    I’m not surprised at the low number of speeding tickets in the Manhattan precincts.  Realistically, is it even possible to drive more than about 20 mph in Manhattan most of the day?  Most of the time when I’m there I can literally walk faster than the cars.  And consider the rare case of the hypothetical speeder.  The police need to catch them first.  This is no easy feat given Manhattan traffic.  They probably deem it more hazardous to give chase in a very crowded environment than to just let them go.

  • Joe R.

    I’m not surprised at the low number of speeding tickets in the Manhattan precincts.  Realistically, is it even possible to drive more than about 20 mph in Manhattan most of the day?  Most of the time when I’m there I can literally walk faster than the cars.  And consider the rare case of the hypothetical speeder.  The police need to catch them first.  This is no easy feat given Manhattan traffic.  They probably deem it more hazardous to give chase in a very crowded environment than to just let them go.

  • Joe R.

    I’m actually glad to see the large number of cell phone tickets.  While speeding may make a collision worse, talking on a cell phone is often what causes it in the first place.  I’d like to see more focus on aggressive driving, with particular attention paid to manuveurs like jockeying for position around traffic lights, passing on the right, “drag-racing” between traffic lights, etc.  I’m kind of cool to giving speeding tickets though if the motorist is otherwise driving reasonably as it has little safety value.  Stick to aggressive, dangerous driving, distracted driving, drunk driving, or extreme speed violations (>20 mph over the limit).  Those are the things which kill people.

  • Joe R.

    I’m actually glad to see the large number of cell phone tickets.  While speeding may make a collision worse, talking on a cell phone is often what causes it in the first place.  I’d like to see more focus on aggressive driving, with particular attention paid to manuveurs like jockeying for position around traffic lights, passing on the right, “drag-racing” between traffic lights, etc.  I’m kind of cool to giving speeding tickets though if the motorist is otherwise driving reasonably as it has little safety value.  Stick to aggressive, dangerous driving, distracted driving, drunk driving, or extreme speed violations (>20 mph over the limit).  Those are the things which kill people.

  • Andrew

    There’s plenty of speeding in Manhattan.  Not all of Manhattan consists of bridge and tunnel approaches.

    Personally, I’m most disheartened by the small number in the “Not Giving R of W to Pedes.” category – 1% citywide.

  • Cberthet

    Anyone knows under which category running a red light is ?

  • Driver

    How about the 82k seat belt tickets?  An offense that doesn’t put anyone but the driver (or passenger) at risk.  Imagine if those resources were put to enforcing violations that actually put other people at risk.

  • Driver

    Probably “fail to stop on signal”

  • Driver

    The credibility of this data is questionable. Right at the top of the page is says “New York’s Finest”.  If they can lie about this, how can their info even be trusted?

  • Ginger

    Is driving in a bike lane not a moving violation? Or does it fall under Pavement Markings? Also in the 94th precinct issued 3x as many violations were issued for tinted windows than for speeding. The precinct only needs to park on McGuiness a few blocks away from their own building to find more than 100 instances of speeding over the course of 5 days not months.

    The unlicensed operators numbers are also alarming.

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