Increased enforcement of laws against speeding and careless driving is the focal point of the mayor's plan to reduce traffic fatalities and promote pedestrian safety. "There's going to be more consequences for bad behavior that could endanger human life," de Blasio said today at an Upper West Side press conference announcing the release of a plan of action [PDF] on his Vision Zero initiative. The mayor also vowed to work with state leaders to amend state laws to allow the city to lower its speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph and add more speed and red light cameras to ticket drivers.
"Dangerous driver choices are the primary cause or a contributing factor in 70% of pedestrian fatalities," the report states. "NYPD targeted enforcement against signal violations, improper turns, failure to yield to pedestrians, phoning/texting while driving and speeding, therefore, has the potential to reduce the frequency of these behaviors and save lives."
The report (found on the city's new Vision Zero website) recommends an overhaul of the department's Traffic Stat analyses, conducting more thorough crash investigations with more crash investigators to promote "better prosecution efforts," ensuring that every precinct has access to "state-of-the-art speed detection devices," and a new speeding enforcement arm of the TLC:
TLC will create a new safety enforcement squad with special speed and safety-specific training and equipped with speed guns to crack down on those drivers who the City entrusts with taxi and other for-hire licenses.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton also named Chief of Community Affairs Thomas Chan to be the new head of the Transportation Bureau. In the first month of Bratton's tenure, cops have already increased the number of speeding and failure to yield citations they've handed out to drivers, along with a steep increase in jaywalking tickets.
The mayor told reporters that the increased enforcement doesn't extend to ticketing pedestrians for jaywalking, though he is leaving that up to individual precincts. The mayor and the police commissioner also batted away a question on the absence of cycling behavior in the report.
The report's only reference to bike lanes is "add paths and bike lanes" in the section detailing the "elements of safety improvements."
While the report does not detail how the de Blasio administration will wrest control of the speed limit and traffic cameras from Albany, it also proposes increased slow zones, making Haley & Diego's "failure to exercise due care" law a misdemeanor, and increasing penalties for drivers who leave the scene of a crash and those who drive with a suspended or terminated license—75% of drivers with a suspended or cancelled license continue to drive.
The report charges the DOT with making safety engineering improvements to 50 intersections, installing 250 speed bumps, enhancing lighting at 1,000 intersections, and installing more traffic signals. A Vision Zero panel appointed by the mayor will ensure that the actions outlined in the plan are being carried out—as the report states, "This Action Plan is only a beginning."
"We cannot live in a city where pedestrian safety is second to the rights of drivers breaking traffic regulations," Councilmember Mark Levine said in a release. "We need greater traffic law enforcement and a redesign of the way traffic is managed. Lowering the speed limit and installing more cameras to monitor illegal driving behavior will give the NYPD the tools to prevent these pedestrian accidents."
In one month, the city's six speed cameras have ticketed nearly 4,000 drivers.