What If NYPD Did a Month of Consistent Enforcement Instead of a 2-Day Blitz?

Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/42030424@N08/4490361851/sizes/m/##zamboni-man/Flickr##
Photo: zamboni-man/Flickr

NYPD launched a 48-hour crackdown on speeding drivers last night, following a “blitz” a week ago that focused on failure to yield and cell phone violations. A ticketing event always gets media attention — that’s the point — but are short bursts of high-profile traffic enforcement better than elevated rates of consistent enforcement that become an unremarkable fact of life?

Last week’s effort resulted in 5,258 summonses, including 1,066 for texting while driving and 1,254 for failure to yield, according to the Daily News. So in two days, NYPD issued 50 percent of the number of failure to yield tickets that officers issued in the entire month of March.

Overall enforcement of these violations is on the rise this year, but the ticket blitz shows how much farther NYPD can go. If police maintained this rate of failure-to-yield ticketing for a whole month, enforcement would increase by a factor of 15. How would that change driver behavior? What would be the effect on traffic deaths and injuries?

Ticket blitzes demonstrate what NYPD can accomplish. But we still don’t know what happens on NYC streets when that level of enforcement becomes the norm.

  • SheRidesABike

    I wonder what the spillover effect is on other driving behavior. Would consistent failure-to-yield (or other) enforcement trigger heightened driver awareness of other infractions like double-parking, making them less likely to double park, pass a cyclist too closely, or even honk at another driver who is yielding to a pedestrian? I’m not sure you can measure that, but I do suspect that enforcement might be valuable even above and beyond the individual tickets and citations issued.

  • ddartley

    We could give PD the benefit of the doubt and not assume that they don’t do un-announced crackdowns in addition to these publicized crackdowns. As I promised here http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/05/20/todays-headlines-1888/#comment-1395756729, here is one response I got from a guy (who I know only on facebook) who used to work for NYPD (but I don’t know in what capacity). I’ll share more responses if I get any:

    the NYPD does do unannounced crackdowns on certain traffic infractions
    throughout the year. The unannounced crackdowns are not always citywide.
    The NYPD announces these crackdowns for several reasons. 1) They alert
    the public that additional police
    officers will be on the streets to enforce the violations. This will
    help deter speeding, in turn cutting down on crashes. 2) The public may
    see an increase of Highway Unit or Unmarked police cars on local
    streets. Alerting the public helps reduce the possibility that the
    public will be unsure if it is actually a police officer. This is not
    guaranteed but it can reduce skepticism. 3) Announcing the enforcement
    events may reduce civilian complaints”

  • Trillobite Bicyclist

    And why does it always have to be announced ahead of time?

  • Andy

    Raise the price of a ticket to cover the cost of enforcement, and there won’t be the continual issue of “we don’t have time and money to deal with that.”

  • sammy davis jr jr

    A ticketing blitz is analogous to a sign indicating where the red light cameras are.

  • Aunt Bike

    I would imagine it has an educational effect, like informing drivers of what the speed limit is to begin with. The DOT found that most New Yorkers don’t even know the default speed limit is 30.

  • mike

    Believe me the police soon won’t have the time. Look at all the shooting and murders. They will have their hands full.

  • MattyCiii

    Some wise man coined the term “broken windows” to describe a similar spillover of behavior…

  • Kevin Love

    Why should someone who is car-free know what the default car speed limit is? 56.5% of households in New York are car free. Looks like a majority to me.



  • SheRidesABike

    I’m familiar with the term, but it was never applied to traffic violence and offenses. I’m talking about a fairly narrow set of behaviors related specifically to operating a car. I admit I don’t know what what data supports or refutes the broken windows approach but I do know that behavior varies greatly in different circumstances. It’s entirely possible that broken windows policing — and any enforcement more broadly — works for certain types of crimes and behaviors but not others. Hence the speculation.


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