Comptroller Stringer’s Chauffeur Racked Up Eight School Zone Speeding Tickets In 2020

Stringer's car, at a recent campaign stop. Photo: Tipster
Stringer's car, at a recent campaign stop. Photo: Tipster

There’s no accounting for haste.

Comptroller Scott Stringer, the city’s top money man and a persistent critic of car culture, was driven around town by a leadfoot who was dinged by school zone speed cameras eight times in 2020.

We ran the plates on the Chevy Suburban that mayoral candidate Stringer stepped out of at a recent Manhattan event and discovered the eight school zone camera tickets between March 6 and December 28, according to city records compiled by HowsMyDriving.

The dirty more than half-dozen. Screenshot via HowsMyDriving
The dirty more than half-dozen. Screenshot via HowsMyDriving

Stringer’s office said he was not a passenger on three of the instances when his driver sped by at least 11 miles per hour above the speed limit in a school zone, but a spokesperson for this office said that the comptroller understood the seriousness of the situation.

“As a father and an advocate for safer streets, the Comptroller takes these violations very seriously,” said Stringer spokesperson Hazel Crampton-Hays. “The NYPD determines the security and transportation of the Comptroller, and we refer questions to them.”

Stringer’s office did not say whether he had ever told his security detail to slow down its out-of-comptrol speeds. The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment on whether the officer or officers involved would be disciplined in any way for speeding.

This isn’t Stringer’s first rodeo with a bad news cycle about his security detail. In 2014, cop sources told the New York Post that a pair of police officers Stringer’s security detail quit the gig after he allegedly expected them to drive his wife to work. Stringer said that the officers were reassigned, and denied going “wife guy” on the officers.

Speed cameras are triggered when driving go at least 36 miles per hour, which is 11 miles per hour higher than New York City’s speed limit. Science shows that the impact from a car moving 30 miles per hour is 70 percent more likely to kill a pedestrian than if the car is moving at 25 miles per hour. Speeding was on the rise during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic last year — and even though there were fewer cars on the road, the number of road violence victims was the highest in seven years. As a result, some legislators and activists began to push for the city speed limit to be lowered to 20 miles per hour.

Beyond that, there is very little being done to rein in reckless drivers. A law proposed by Council Member Brad Lander, the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, passed last year, but its provisions would do nothing to the driver of Stringer’s car, despite the slew of tickets, because a driver must be nabbed by speed cameras 15 times in one year (or five times by a red light camera) before the driver has to take defensive driving class. (Ironically, Lander hopes to succeed Stringer as the city’s top bean-counter.)

Stringer joins an ignominious list of city politicians who have been caught either blowing through speed limits or being driven around by drag racers. Last year, Streetsblog revealed that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s drivers got seven tickets for speeding in school zones between 2016 and 2019. Former State Sen. Marty Golden (or his driver) was a speed freak who collected 10 school zone speeding tickets in four years (which was revealed after a cyclist spotted the Bay Ridge politician being driven in a bike lane). Public Advocate Jumaane Williams got 27 school zone speeding tickets from 2013 to 2018, reckless driving that he later apologized for. (Since then, Williams has become a champion for cyclists — and joined their ranks.)

And of course Mayor de Blasio has had his own bad behavior from his driving detail. One of the mayor’s earliest scandals involved his detail being caught speeding and rolling through stop signs in 2014. In 2015, the mayor’s security detail caused — and then covered up — a car crash that occurred when it drove the wrong way down a street in Harlem.

Advocates say Stringer is fast — and they’re furious, especially given how easy it is for the city’s political class to avoid getting speeding tickets.

“The math is pretty simple here: if you’re not being driven everywhere, you’re not going to rack up speeding tickets,” said street safety activist Doug Gordon. “So maybe this is another reminder that we need politicians in this city to act like the majority of New Yorkers and not drive or be driven everywhere.”

If they insist on car rides though, Gordon said elected officials and candidates have to follow the same rules as everyone else.

“We need every person running for office, every person who holds elected office, anybody in a position of power, to be held to the same standards that we all should be held to, and that is to drive safely. Even if you’re being driven around, have that person drive safely, and don’t break the rules. It shouldn’t be hard,” he said.

Do you have the license plate of a mayoral candidate’s car? Snap a picture and send it to tips@streetsblog.org. Operators are standing by.

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