Has Your NYPD Precinct Ramped Up Enforcement Under Vision Zero?

Which police precincts are devoting greater attention to traffic enforcement under Vision Zero? Streetsblog crunched the numbers from NYPD to find out how different precincts stacked up in 2014 compared to previous years. The stats show that police are, in general, devoting more resources to enforcing the most dangerous traffic violations on surface streets. But the baseline level of enforcement was so low that many precincts are still issuing fewer than one speeding or failure-to-yield ticket per day.

Since August 2011, NYPD has released monthly totals of moving violations, broken down by unit, precinct, and type of summons issued. Two types of violations are of particular relevance to street safety: Speeding is the leading cause of traffic deaths in New York City, and failure to yield is the leading contributor to crashes resulting in injury. For those reasons, we’ve singled out these two statistics — and not, say, tinted windows or defective headlights — to measure each precinct’s performance [XLS, CSV]. (One caveat about the numbers: It’s not clear how many of these tickets were issued to cyclists as opposed to motorists, though it is probably a very small number in most precincts.)

Tickets for speeding and failure to yield last year were up 54 percent over the year before, and up 82 percent over 2012’s numbers. Importantly, the focus of NYPD’s speeding enforcement is shifting somewhat from highways to surface streets, but the pace of change was still very slow in 2014.

In 2012, the department’s transportation bureau, which usually works on highways, handed out 73 percent of all speeding tickets, while just 27 percent were issued by precincts. In 2013, that balance shifted slightly to 71-29 and last year, the ratio moved to 64-36 — an accelerated shift, but a stat that still leaves lots of room for improvement.

The first full year of the city’s speed camera program offers some interesting context. Officers handed out 117,767 speeding tickets last year, of which 42,627 were issued by local precincts. The city’s speed cameras — restricted to school hours on surface streets with a school entrance within a quarter-mile — issued 445,000 violations over the same period. DOT has been slowly expanding the number of speed cameras, currently at 19 fixed and 40 mobile locations. State law allows the city to put 91 more cameras on the streets to slow down speeding motorists.

Failure to yield violations, 90 percent of which are handed out by precincts, are also up. Last year, precincts handed out 29,845 tickets for not giving the right of way to pedestrians, an increase of 116 percent over the year before. From 2012 to 2013, the increase was 28 percent.

Every single precinct increased the combined number of speeding and failure to yield tickets it issued last year. The biggest increase came from the 6th Precinct, covering Greenwich Village and the West Village, at 386 percent. The 94th Precinct, covering Greenpoint and Williamsburg’s North Side, was the department’s laggard, with just a 12 percent increase.

All but three precincts — the 45th, which runs from Throgs Neck to Co-Op City, West Harlem’s 30th, and Greenpoint’s 94th — increased the number of speeding tickets issued last year.

The increase in some precincts looks especially dramatic because they were starting with very low numbers. Midtown South, for example, issued 176 speeding tickets last year, a 2,414 percent increase over the year before. That’s because it issued just seven speeding tickets in 2013 and none at all in 2012.

Conversely, some areas didn’t show big percentage gains but have led the department for years in issuing speeding tickets, particularly precincts in Staten Island, Queens North, and a handful in the Bronx. Only a few precincts, like the 77th in Crown Heights, have stepped up speeding enforcement enough to leapfrog ahead of others and reach the head of the pack.

The northern border of the 77th Precinct is Atlantic Avenue, one of Brooklyn’s most dangerous arterial streets. Because the data is only available at the precinct level, it’s hard to know how much the 7-7 is focusing its speeding enforcement on Atlantic. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said she met with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton before attending an Upper West Side event last week to discuss upgrading NYPD’s systems so it can record real-time, geo-coded enforcement data. This type of public data would help answer important questions about where NYPD is focusing its enforcement efforts.


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