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What’s This? NYPD Starts Limited Action Against Speeders

9:43 AM EDT on April 14, 2020

File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The NYPD's Highway Unit appears to be finally making a first baby step toward addressing the epidemic of speeding on New York's wide open roads, a crisis first observed by Streetsblog back on March 24 and covered repeatedly since.

The unit has "beefed up patrols along designated highways," a spokesperson for City Hall said, declining to provide staffing figures. An NYPD spokesman later said the increased staffing resulted in 632 speeding tickets issued by the citywide highway unit on Thursday, April 9 and Friday, April 10 — 40 more than during the same two days last year.

That 6.75-percent increase is a small one, given that the city's school zone speed cameras issued 57 percent more tickets in the 10 weekdays from March 23 to April 3 compared to a similar 10-weekday period in late January and early February.

The Highway Unit's ticketing dropped by Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12, with just 309 speeding tickets issued citywide, compared to 481 on the same dates in 2019. Of note: April 11 and April 12, 2019 were weekdays, which could explain the year-to-year drop, though the NYPD spokesperson declined to provide weekend 2019 figures (even though they would likely make the agency's efforts look better).

It is very difficult to ascertain the full extent of the NYPD's response to the speeding epidemic, which has resulted in an increase in motorist and car passenger deaths, even as total vehicle miles traveled in New York City are down about 83 percent in April from usual, congested levels.

Neither City Hall nor the NYPD would discuss what it claimed was a new Citywide Traffic Task Force, which apparently began on Thursday, April 9.

Neither the NYPD nor City Hall would discuss staffing beyond saying that "hundreds" of patrol officers have been "deployed to locations where cameras show high numbers of speeders." Neither NYPD nor City Hall would discuss this strategy beyond offering the four days of ticketing data.

The Highway Unit has also placed 10 electric signboards at strategic locations, which are "reinforcing the importance of safety," a City Hall spokesperson said. The spokesperson initially said the signs were new, but the NYPD spokesman confirmed that they were re-deployed from other locations as part of the task force effort.

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