NYPD Tickets for Failure to Yield Up 66 Percent in January

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It could be a fluke, and there’s a lot of room to improve (NYPD issued 9,000 tickets for tinted windows this January), but failure to yield enforcement moved in the right direction last month. Streetsblog will continue to monitor these summonses each month.

NYPD got a lot of press last month for ticketing pedestrians, but officers were also summonsing more motorists for deadly driving behaviors.

NYPD issued 1,993 citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian in January. That’s a 66 percent increase from the 1,198 failure to yield tickets issued in January 2013, and a 60 percent jump from last year’s monthly average of 1,240.

January’s speeding summons total was also up 20 percent from last year, but since most speeding tickets are issued on highways it’s impossible to know for sure how much of that increase happened on neighborhood streets. Failure to yield stops, by definition, occur where pedestrians are present.

Tallying the number of tickets is a blunt way to assess NYPD’s traffic enforcement performance. The department should be releasing the summons data in a mappable format, so the public can tell where enforcement is happening. And there should be a metric of motorist compliance, in addition to the summons data, so people can tell if overall driver behavior is getting better or worse.

It’s possible last month could be a fluke — police wrote 1,916 failure to yield tickets last November, by far the highest total of any single month in 2013. Or with the launch of Vision Zero, the January uptick could be the first substantial sign that NYPD is making pedestrian safety a higher enforcement priority.

We’ll get a clearer picture over the next few months.

  • Ian Turner

    Here’s a question: How many tickets are required to make a significant difference in driver behavior? Given that there may be way more than 100,000,000 failures to yield in NYC in any given month, it seems to me that we need at least a 50X fold increase in enforcement — not 1.7X.

    If we keep up issuing 66% more every month for the next year, though, (and then sustained at that level), that would probably do it.

    –Ian

  • Bolwerk

    I doubt it takes very much. Catching 1-2% of the people who do it every day means everybody who does it more than a two times a week can be expected to be caught within a year or two. And the fine should be high enough to make getting caught really suck.

    Plus maybe better social norms will eventually emerge that might require less enforcement.

  • Ian Turner

    The fine is not enough to make getting caught really suck. It’s just $105. http://www.brianpicarello.com/areas-of-practice/traffic-violations/ny-points-system–fines.html

    But more to the point, 100 million violations per month is a low estimate. Think about how many times a vehicle fails to yield to you every day, and the multiply that times the millions of people in New york (including commuters). It could easily be the case that there are over a billion failures to yield every month.

    The goal should really be to get enforcement to the point where someone who commits the infraction more than several times per month can expect to get ticketed 3-4 times per year (which would be enough to revoke their license).

  • KeNYC2030

    The failure-to-yield tickets are by no means being handed out universally. At last night’s Vision Zero town hall, the NYPD traffic safety coordinator for Manhattan South, who was a panelist, seemed more focused on educating pedestrians and ticketing bicyclists. Afterwards, I asked her if she would consider failure to yield stings like the 78th precinct in Brooklyn is doing. I was surprised that she wasn’t aware of them. Then she offered that her precincts do operate stings against lawbreaking cyclists. Finally, after I responded that cyclists generally aren’t the ones killing people, she said her command might try a sting if there’s a particular intersection where failure to yield is a problem. Please notify the authorities if you hear of such an intersection.

  • r

    Another argument for automated enforcement…

  • stairbob

    I don’t have a problem with ticketing for tinted windows. I believe the police do it because they feel it endangers them if they can’t see into cars. But it also endangers the rest of us if we can’t make eye contact with drivers. Tinted windows are also anti-social and reduce overall feeling of the street as a shared space.

  • Bolwerk

    What the fine is should be a question of how much enforcement you want to do. Fines aren’t just punitive. They’re also remedial; they need to defray the costs of enforcement (IMHO this is more important than being punitive, actually). So maybe $105 could be enough if the catch rate is high enough.

    But I’m going to guess the catch rate is way south of 1% as is, and you probably need at least 1% to make a meaningful dent.

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