NYC DOT Needs to Turn On the Rest of Its Speed Cameras ASAP

NYC Traffic Injuries January-March 2012-2015

Total traffic injuries and fatalities in NYC declined in the first three months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, according to NYPD crash data. While it’s too early to isolate the effect of the city’s speed camera program on street safety, the available evidence strongly suggests cameras are a factor in the city’s continued improvement.

And yet more than half the speed cameras at NYC DOT’s disposal are still dormant. If speed cams are saving people’s lives, then the sloth-like rollout is also costing lives.

As of the end of March, there were 40 traffic fatalities in NYC this year, compared to 51 through March 2014, a 22 percent decrease. Motorists killed 24 people walking and biking through March, compared to 33 for the same period last year, a 27 percent decline.

Injuries, which are less prone to random variation, were also down through March. The total number of people injured in crashes decreased by 6 percent from the same period in 2014, and injuries to pedestrians and cyclists dropped 14 percent.

What’s making streets safer? The increase in speed cameras, paired with the lowering of the city’s default speed limit to 25 mph last fall, is the single most significant change to NYC’s streets in the past year.

There were 20 functioning speed cameras in the city as of last fall, and by the end of 2014, 49 cameras were operational, according to the Daily News. That year, cameras nabbed almost four times as many speeding drivers as NYPD, despite Albany-imposed restrictions that limit camera tickets to school zones during school hours.

A four-month DOT study found that speeding decreased 60 percent at locations with cameras. A WNYC data analysis found that crashes resulting in injury fell 13 percent within 500 feet of fixed camera locations in the last four months of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013.

DOT is now using 63 of the 140 cameras allowed by Albany, and plans to have all cameras operating by the end of 2015. Should it take the city that long to place a few dozen cameras when lives are at stake?

NYC Traffic Fatalities January-March 2012-2015
  • Tyson White

    I see how you personally feel (no need for evidence on that…). There are millions of drivers out there each with their own opinion…

    PS all of that may work for highways, not for city streets where people cross.

  • Joe R.

    How it works it very simple. It’s not just narrow lanes. You stick in things like bollards between lanes, use roundabouts liberally, perhaps try chicanes. Those who “can’t be bothered by conditions” will end up as part of the scenery, or dead, or both if they can’t drive at the speed most other people consider safe on that road. Infrastructure is self-enforcing. We make roads forgiving of driver error when we should really be doing the opposite, at least on urban streets.

    You do know there a bunch of ways to defeat speed cameras cold, even disable them? I’m not getting into details here but the info is out there for those who want it. You can’t defeat concrete. Drive too fast at an intersection with a roundabout, for example, and you end up as a permanent monument. Heck, you might even have a nice little plaque with your name put on the roundabout posthumously as a warning to others to slow the f down.

  • Joe R.

    It works everywhere. The issue is during the 1950s and 1960s the decision was made to prioritize rapid movement of motor vehicles so we made arterial streets resembling highways. We’re now living with the unfortunate consequences of that decision. Moreover, thanks to traffic signal proliferation average speeds now are no better than they were when people drove 20 mph, despite the much higher peak speeds in between red lights.

    Remember you’ll never be able to deploy enough speed cameras to slow down vehicles on entire arterials. At best you can strategically use them in the most dangerous spots. The only solution you’re left with is redesigning the street. People nowadays seem to always want quick, cheap solutions but there are none to be had here. We have to spend the money if we want to get speeds down. We also should seriously consider attacking the root cause of traffic violence, which is insanely high traffic volumes. That breeds aggressive driving with all the problems which follow. NYC should have at least 75% fewer vehicles on the streets, better yet 90%. If we do that, then the problems of traffic violence will largely solve itself.

  • Alex_nma

    That’s been tried in other places with great success. But it needs to be done properly.

  • Alex_nma

    Sure, just the same way you can learn to be a doctor by someone writing a quick post. You need to go to a university for 4 years to get a degree. There is a lot more to it than what I have shared and what I know.

  • Alex_nma

    Joe, you are one of the few here who understands the problem and how to properly fix it.

  • Alex_nma

    Blame the cops. It is often very obvious what caused the the accident. Failure to yield at an intersection is a major cause of accidents. But those poor drivers are rarely prosecuted. Politicians are more interested in putting up cameras that give them money rather than fixing the real problem of bad drivers.

  • Alex_nma

    The sad part is that contrary to what the for profit camera companies want you to believe, they often increase accidents. That is one reason most cities who put up the continued use of red light cameras for a vote end up getting rid of them. If you look at the data it is obvious they hurt more than help. Any intersection that has a real problem is one that needs to be redesigned because a camera is not going to help the problem.

  • Alex_nma

    Ask the city who runs the programs. Then do a little reasearch on that company. You will find it’s a for profit company that has in the past been caught making unsafe changes to yellow light timing to make more money.

  • Alex_nma

    You are correct that different methods need to be used on different types of roads. But not trying to sound like a broken record, let a traffic engineer decide that. Right now more decisions are being made by ignorant politicians than by engineers. Any time a red light camera is suggested or, even worse, a traffic hump is suggested you know it is the idea of someone who is ignorant to the proper way to control traffic.

  • Alex_nma

    Yes, citizens are recognizing the cameras for what they are, money grabs.

  • Tyson White

    NYC had over 700 deaths a year before it started using red light cameras. It’s now less than half of that.

  • Alex_nma

    That’s great news. Average global temperatures are up about .5 degrees from 1992 to now, so global warming must be reducing the number of deaths in NYC. That makes as much sense are your statement. There is no proven directly correlation between death reductions and camera use. The general trend of death rates in car accidents has been going down sine well before camera taxation came into vogue. What is not a made up fact is that rear accidents at intersections with cameras have always increased.

  • Tyler

    Will you stop talking about the for-profit companies that operate the DOT speed cameras in NYC. Because they DON’T EXIST. It is a DOT operation. With DOT staff. And DOT-owned equipment. Just because you like to speed and don’t like to be punished for it, doesn’t mean you should just keep lying.

  • Tyler

    Just sounds like you enjoy speeding and don’t enjoy being punished for it.

  • Tyler

    The DOT runs the program with DOT employees and DOT equipment.

  • Tyler

    WHAT!>?!?!? Traffic rarely goes faster than X, but a speed limit of X is unfair?! Jesus Christ. Sounds like you have received many many tickets from this “scam” and you’re just whiny bitch. I drive a lot in Brooklyn. Never once have I gotten a speeding ticket, a red light ticket, a bus lane ticket or a reckless driving ticket. It’s called being a safe and conscientious driver. You sound like the opposite — an idiot who thinks he can do no harm (until you kill someone).

  • Tyler

    Oh – that is just stupid. You had that thought, then wrote it down?

  • Tyler

    Made up graphs… Jesus. Does the tin foil hat help with your brain injury?

  • Tyler

    Or simple enforcement tools.

    Alex — it doesn’t matter if you agree with it, 25 mph is the law. How it’s enforced doesn’t matter. Get the law changed if you don’t like it — because it’s clear you enjoy cruising around the dense urban streets at 50+ mph. But the enforcement method is NOT the speed limit. If you’re going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone, you are speeding. You should be punished.

  • Alex_nma

    Resorting to name calling is what happens when you have no more facts to support your argument. Unless you have been a passenger in a motor vehicle I have driven, you have no basis for that false accusation. I just want what is fair and safe for everyone. Camera enforcement does is neither.

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