1.2 Million Traffic Summonses Is Nothing to Be Proud Of

04taxi_650.jpgJust another city motorist breaking the law with impunity. Photo: NYT

In his response to Executive Order, the thorough and damning report on lax NYPD traffic enforcement released by Transportation Alternatives last month, Commissioner Ray Kelly was dismissive and defensive.

"I don’t know what they are talking about," said Kelly. "In 2007 and 2008 we issued 1.2
million moving violation summonses."

As Ben Fried reported at the time, Kelly’s recitation of a gross figure means nothing without context. Executive Order author Jessie Gray Singer sent over some figures gauging the significance of that number.

  • 1.2 million summonses issued by NYPD last year = 3,288 summonses a day.
  • Roughly 4 million New Yorkers own cars.
  • According to NYMTC, there are over 1.5 million daily auto trips into and out of the Manhattan CBD alone.
  • A 2000 study by then-city comptroller Alan Hevesi found that city drivers run 1.23 million red lights every work day.

Given a little perspective, you can see how 1.2 million summonses stacks up when compared to the number of vehicle trips and documented (if dated) incidents of just one type of violation. Meanwhile, it appears that NYPD’s concentration on cell phone use rather than speeding (195,579 vs. 75,599 summonses, respectively, in 2007) has failed to deter city cab drivers from driving while distracted.

All in all, when it comes to clamping down on traffic crime, 1.2 million summonses a year = 1 drop in the bucket.

  • JK

    TA or Streetsblog needs to get a breakdown on where these summonses are being handed out and for what. Earlier, now apparently forgotten TA studies, found that the vast bulk of police speeding enforcement took place on highways, not streets. Also, NYMTC’s 2008 hub bound travel shows about 7 million people — not vehicles entering Manhattan South of 60th street everyday, roughly 2 million by car, truck, taxi van etc. If you add in Harlem Bridges and the GWB, you’re still nowhere near 7 million vehicles entering Manhattan.

  • Corrected, JK. Thanks.

  • Shemp

    I was going to make the point about highway enforcement vs. streets and was happy to open up and see JK already on the job. Note also the piece in the Times a couple of days ago that showed that parking enforcement personnel pay for themselves many times over – same could be true for traffic enforcement if the NYPD had any interest in it.

  • Lyle

    Was this 1.2 million “in 2007 and 2008” or 1.2 million in 2007, and another 1.2 million in 2008 ?

  • Lyle — It’s ~1.2 million each year.


Ray Kelly on Traffic Crime: “I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About”

State DMV data show that crashes caused by speeding are up, while enforcement of speeding violations is down. Graphic: Transportation Alternatives. Transportation Alternatives’ recent report, Executive Order [PDF], contains so much information about the state of traffic enforcement in New York, it’s impossible to summarize in one post. So in the weeks ahead, Streetsblog will […]

NYPD Rarely Enforces Speed Limit on Deadly Broadway in Upper Manhattan

In our Tuesday post on the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s latest “Most Dangerous Roads for Walking” report, we noted the concentration of pedestrian deaths on Broadway in Washington Heights, where pedestrian islands, protected bike lanes and other safety features are not present above 168th Street. In addition to engineering, another factor in pedestrian fatalities and injuries is, […]

TA: NYPD Enforcement Priorities Don’t Match Its Own Street Safety Data

Yesterday, Transportation Alternatives released a report [PDF] highlighting the mismatch between what causes fatal and serious crashes, according to NYPD crash reports, and what police choose to prioritize when it comes to traffic enforcement. The report lists some statistics to illustrate the public safety crisis on the city’s streets: One New Yorker suffers a traffic-related injury […]