Strong Majority Supports Adding Cameras Over Cops: TransAlt

Here's why. File photo: Eve Kessler
Here's why. File photo: Eve Kessler

A strong majority of New Yorkers supports booting the NYPD from traffic enforcement in favor of automated enforcement to curb reckless driving, according to a new poll released today by Transportation Alternatives.

The new poll, commissioned by TA and conducted by the Siena College Research Institute, found that a majority supports increasing the number of speed cameras within and outside of school zones, and support automated enforcement as opposed to cops to help make streets safer.

“By investing in automated enforcement and street design, New York City can become a global leader in street safety. Now is the time to double down on proven measures that keep our residents safe and reduce racial bias and armed police involvement.” said Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “This new polling should be a wake up call for those running for mayor that automated enforcement not only works, but has broad support from voters and must be expanded further to help us reach Vision Zero.”

In the poll, which was conducted in late fall, New Yorkers spoke loud and clear: 78 percent, including 73 percent of drivers, support adding more speed safety cameras in school zones. The message was loudest among Latino and Hispanic respondents: 93 percent want school cameras.

The survey also reveals that a majority 59 percent of New York City voters believe the city should rely on speed cameras and red light cameras for traffic enforcement as opposed to the police, including 74 percent of Latino/Hispanic voters, 65 percent of Black voters, and 53 percent of white voters. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they favor police enforcement.

And unsurprisingly, the largest group to support reducing the NYPD’s roll in traffic oversight in favor of automated enforcement is younger and non-White voters, with 72 percent of voters age 18-34 favoring automated enforcement, and 65 percent of Black voters and 74 percent of Hispanic/Latino voters voters favoring automated enforcement, according to the poll.

The survey comes amid a growing push from TA and other safe-street advocates to remove the NYPD from its disproportionately large oversight of traffic enforcement in the city, not only to make streets safer from crashes, but also to protect Black and Brown New Yorkers, who are disproportionately victims of police brutality.

The campaign picked up steam in the fall when New York State’s top prosecutor endorsed the plan. In September, Attorney General Letitia James unveiled a report recommending that police cease conducting traffic stops, following her investigation into the fatal shooting of Allan Feliz, whom cops killed during a so-called routine traffic stop in the Bronx last year.

Studies show that cops are 40 percent more likely to stop a Black driver than a White driver — encounters that have often led to police brutality and death, like in the case of 31-year-old Feliz.

Feliz’s brutal killing followed similarly tragic stories of other Black men and women, like 28-year-old Sandra Bland, who suspiciously died after police arrested her during a traffic stop that began after she allegedly failed to signal a lane change in Texas in 2015; 23-year-old Sean Bell, who was shot in his car and killed by police in 2013 in New York City; and 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by a cop during a traffic stop in Minnesota in 2016.

Additionally, the survey reveals:

  • 85 percent of New York City voters, including 84 percent of those who own cars, support installing cameras that would ticket drivers for running a red light
  • 68 percent of New York City voters support installing cameras that would ticket drivers for blocking a bus lane, including 80 percent of Hispanic/Latino New Yorkers, and 64 percent of car owners
  • 67 percent of New York City voters support installing cameras that would ticket drivers for blocking a crosswalk – including 79 percent of New Yorkers whose households make under $50,000/year, 79 percent of voters over age 65, and 62 percent of car owners
  • 60 percent of New York City voters support installing cameras that would ticket drivers for blocking a bike lane – including 70 percent of Hispanic/Latino New Yorkers, 67 percent of voters over age 65, and 54 percent of car owners

The survey also shows that those who earn more money are less likely to support installing cameras to automatically ticket drivers for any infraction that puts vulnerable road users in danger, like blocking a crosswalk or a bus lane.

According to the poll, 76 percent of New Yorkers who make less than $50,000 annually strongly support installing cameras to catch scofflaws who run a red light, while only 67 percent of New Yorkers who make more than $100,000 a year do.

The same pattern is true for each infraction — 62 percent of New Yorkers who make less than $50,000 annually strongly support cameras for blocking intersections and crosswalks, while only 39 percent of New Yorkers who make more than $100,000 do; for blocking a bike lane, 44 percent of New Yorkers who earn less than $50,000 annually strongly support cameras, while just 30 percent of New Yorkers who make more than $100,000 a year do; and for blocking a bus lane, 54 percent of New Yorkers who make less than $50,000 annually say they strongly support cameras, while just 43 percent who make more than $100,000 a year do, according to the poll.

And the poll shows that even more New Yorkers support speed camera enforcement than they did in 2016, according to TA.  Now, 60 percent, including 53 percent of car owners, 69 percent of Latinx residents, and 69 percent of seniors, say they support adding more speed safety cameras outside of school zones, too — a major upward shift from 2016, when only 47 percent of car owners supported expansion in 2016, 64 percent of Hispanic/Latino voters, and 60 percent of voters over age 65, according to TA.

Last December, Mayor de Blasio pleaded with legislators up in Albany to pass a bill to allow the city to install more speed cameras, and let them operate 24/7, up from the current weekday-only hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., after a DOT report proving their success.

The poll results also come as the City Council is expected to vote on a bill on Thursday to further diminish cops’ roll in street safety, by making the Department of Transportation, and not the NYPD, the lead agency in investigating crashes.

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