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Coronavirus Crisis

Motorist Deaths Are Up As NYPD Fails to Crack Down on Speeding

1:49 PM EDT on April 9, 2020

The NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad does not play a role in Vision Zero and should be taken away from the NYPD, argues this op-ed. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Here's another reason why the NYPD needs to take the speeding epidemic far more seriously: More drivers are killing themselves in crashes right now — even though there are so few motorists on the road.

Speed is the most likely culprit.

Between March 2 and April 8, six drivers and motorcyclists died on New York City roadways — more than have died in the same period in four of the last five years. The increase comes as the total number of vehicle miles traveled in the city has dropped 84 percent over the same period, according to data provided by StreetLight.

Compare those six motorist deaths between March 2 and April 8 to prior "Vision Zero" years when there were literally tens of millions more miles being driven every day in the five boroughs:

    • 2019: 5 motorists
    • 2018: 3 motorists
    • 2017: 5 motorists
    • 2016: 6 motorists
    • 2015: 5 motorists

At the same time, car collisions were down 54 percent between March 8 and April 5, according to the NYPD, meaning that a likely reason for the increase in motorist deaths during this year's coronavirus crisis is simply that drivers are traveling at excessive speeds, which makes crashes far more likely to be fatal.

First, the total tickets by month.
Total speeding tickets by month.

As Streetsblog has reported, the city's school-zone cameras issued 15 percent more tickets in March than they did in January — and 36 percent more in the last four days of March.

It's something the NYPD should be taking seriously, but is not: In March, cops wrote 36 percent fewer tickets than they did in January.

Of course, city speed cameras only operate on residential roadways near schools. There are also reports (and videos!) that drivers are treating the city's avenues and highways as the Daytona Speedway, too.

If there is any good news to the speed epidemic it's that the carnage is mostly limited to operators of motorized vehicles such as cars and motorcycles.

Between March 2 and April 8, two pedestrians have been killed my motorists, likely a result of so few pedestrians being outside during the virus lockdown.

Here are the death counts in prior years during the same period, according to the DOT:

    • 2019: 13 pedestrians and 1 cyclist.
    • 2018: 9 pedestrians
    • 2017: 13 pedestrians and 2 cyclists.
    • 2016: 10 pedestrians.
    • 2015: 7 pedestrians and 1 cyclist.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story. Earlier this week, a police spokeswoman said "it seems like there may be more speeding — at least in some parts of the city. We don’t condone it. We do enforce it. But we also have other extremely significant pressures on our department."

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