Will Bill Bratton Make an Anti-Speeding PSA Like This?

A new anti-speeding PSA from DC police chief Cathy Lanier could be a good model for once and future NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton. Speeding is the leading cause of fatal crashes in New York City, and DC provides a model — starting with a video like this one.

Lanier, standing in front of a bank of screens showing busy roads, gives a stern warning to drivers. “High-speed collisions are much more deadly than other collisions,” she says. The video shows signs with DC’s 25 mph citywide speed limit. “When you have significant speeds involved, typically there are fatalities, and multiple fatalities,” Lanier says.

DDOT director Terry Bellamy and MPD Detective Joe Diliberto join Lanier in the video. “It’s a bad decision that’s made by the operator. Many of these collisions could have been avoided if it wasn’t for the speeding,” Diliberto says. “We’re all working toward zero deaths in DC, because every life counts.”

DC’s goal of eliminating traffic deaths sounds a lot like Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero promise. DC, which has far more extensive automated speed enforcement than NYC, is making the target look achievable. Traffic fatalities have fallen 76 percent since 2001 [PDF], to 19 last year. DC’s current traffic fatality rate is on par with New York’s, but its recent progress has been faster. Last year, when fatalities rose both in New York and nationwide, DC’s continued to drop.

DC has more than 130 cameras across the city to catch drivers who are speeding and running red lights, as well as turning right on red, rolling through stop signs, not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, and blocking intersections. DC’s cameras also fine truckers for driving overweight vehicles and using restricted roads.

Here in New York, Albany has set caps on traffic enforcement by allowing only 150 red light cameras and 20 speed cameras. If New York, with a population more than 13 times that of DC, had as many automated enforcement cameras per capita as our nation’s capital, there would be more than 1,700 cameras catching dangerous drivers in the city.

As Gotham Gazette pointed out this week, Albany is a major roadblock to the city’s efforts to ensure the safety of its own streets. De Blasio has called for home rule over the city’s use of traffic cameras, instead of having to regularly ask Albany for a few at a time. State lawmakers will be loathe to give up such leverage. Convincing Albany to give the city control over automated enforcement will require a concerted and high-profile campaign.

The top priority for de Blasio in Albany is to enact an income tax hike on high earners to fund universal pre-kindergarten. As de Blasio’s team maps out its future priorities, will it launch similar home rule campaigns for automated speeding enforcement?

If Bratton made a video like Lanier’s, it would be an early signal that the de Blasio administration is serious about its street safety campaign promises.


While PBA Obstructs Speed Cams, DC Police Union Shows Support

Although maintaining that cameras “are never going to be a replacement for officers,” a prominent police union official told Streetsblog that he strongly supports automated enforcement. “People drive in this town with impunity,” he said. “I’ll take any help we can get at this point to try and reign in some of the problems.” Unfortunately […]

De Blasio Rolls Out a Multi-Agency Approach to Reducing Traffic Violence

Calling traffic fatalities an “epidemic” that deserves immediate attention from the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched his administration’s “Vision Zero” agenda this afternoon, setting out to eliminate traffic deaths within a decade. The most important news to come out of today’s announcement is that his administration will enlist multiple agencies to tackle the multifaceted […]

Is This Anti-Speeding PSA Too Real for America?

Wow. This public safety spot from New Zealand really brings home how decisions we casually make while driving can have grave consequences. The PSA questions the whole idea that traffic violence is somehow unavoidable, the result of fate more than human error. In the United States the notion that traffic collisions are nothing but tragic […]

Vision Zero: Where Do We Go From Here?

John Petro is a policy analyst for New York City affairs and the co-author of “Vision Zero: How Safer Streets in New York City Can Save More Than 100 Lives a Year.” Mayor Bill de Blasio released his administration’s Vision Zero Action Plan earlier this week, following up on a high-profile campaign promise just six […]