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.

  • Kevin Love

    Here is another example of an excellent anti-speeding PSA. Notice how responsibility is placed squarely where it belongs.

  • J

    F, yeah, DC!

    It’s truly shameful that NYC is so far behind on this. Much of the blame for that, and the resulting preventable deaths, lies on the shoulders of Ray Kelly for stubbornly refusing to take action, and on Mike Bloomberg for failing to push Kelly to do more.

  • red_greenlight1

    Those are great! I don’t usually burst out laughing at PSAs.

  • red_greenlight1

    Yes it royally sucks that Albany refused to give us our speed cameras. But before we worry about what Albany didn’t give us let’s look at what we do have and how it’s not being used. The NYPD has bigger things to do then making PSA such as actually enforcing the laws. I don’t think Bratton can get the NYPD to enforce the traffic laws even if he wants to. Why? It’s become engrained in the NYPD that they simply aren’t there to enforce traffic laws.

  • greggzuk

    Belgian blocks : low speed. We want zero logistics relate deaths? Return to safe streets infrastructure (which already exists under the petrol-laced street surfaces): bricks , cobblestones, Belgian blocks, bluestone – anything but petrol. Street striping is nice; safe surface materials for streets gets results.

    Best street surface for bikes? High-fire brick.

    It’s time.

  • Kevin Love

    That’s one big difference that I have noticed between PSAs in Europe and PSAs in the USA or Japan. The American and Japanese PSAs are all Very Serious.

    The European ones tend to use humor and a hint of sex. In my opinion, this does a much better job of effectively conveying the message.

    For example, this one from Hungary. Yes, we all know that there are significant health benefits to getting rid of cars and relying upon cycling for transportation.

    So how about a PSA featuring two middle-aged couples. The couple that gets around by bike is having fun, they are very much in love and there is a less-than-subtle hint that they might be having sex. But for the couple getting around by car, there is a less-than-subtle hint that…

    Well, watch for yourself at:


  • Police culture is bad and needs to be thoroughly overhauled. But perhaps speeding is not a cause of deaths… not exactly. Among other things it is road design that encourages speeding. Bad police culture, bad rushing culture in general and bad road design cause death. The one-way arteries of NYC are a cancer for speeding and need to be re-designed and reverted to their early 20th Century format.

    We ought not to get caught up in semantics, but “vision zero” is an impossible promise, in some cases coming from a cynical motivation which is that driving can somehow, sometime in the future be “safe” in terms of collisions. Does anyone care to see how many times the Swedes, for example, have delayed their goals in this area? But also what about emissions, both local and from coal-powered power plants?

  • There used to be some pretty sharp PSAs in America, but they got pretty dimwitted in the 1980s.

  • Wayne

    “It’s sort of ceding responsibility that a police officer should have for removing a truly reckless speeder off the road and giving it to a camera that does nothing to take that reckless speeder off the road,” This is only another revenue enhancement opportunity.” How many years have cops been giving out tickets for red lights and speeeding. Has it actually stop people from doing that. No. Hey heres an idea, How about DMV stop issuing a drivers license to anyone who gets has to drive once around the block….


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