The New York Police Department announced it will increase enforcement of traffic violations this week, as at least a million young New Yorkers return to school. The crackdown will primarily target drivers who “fail to yield to pedestrian and cyclists,” according to a report by the New York Daily News.
The announcement follows two years of rising traffic violence fatalities, with 180 or more deaths so far this year. Traffic violence rose alongside reckless driving over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the early days when streets were relatively empty. The Daily News notes that if traffic violence deaths continue at their current pace, 2021 will be the deadliest year for New York City’s streets since 2014, when Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” program to eliminate deadly traffic violence began.
One transportation official told the Daily News that a 2019 state law providing for speed cameras in school zones has contributed to the mitigation of traffic violence affecting schoolchildren, while calling for an expansion of the program, which only allows the cameras to operate on weekdays between 6am and 10pm. The state legislature is currently considering a bill that would let these cameras operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which the official said would help mitigate fatal crashes during the night in school zones—which accounted for “one-third of fatal crashes last year.”
In a statement about the enhanced enforcement program, Kim Royster, Chief of the NYPD’s Transportation Bureau, said, “Nothing means more to us than the safety of our children, and protecting them as they return to school this year is a top priority of the NYPD. s the new school year opens, we want to do this in a turbocharged effect.”
Over at StreetsBlog, the NYPD’s plan received some criticism given the agency’s history of lax traffic enforcement: in June 2021, the report noted, the NYPD wrote 55% fewer failure-to-yield tickets than it wrote in June 2019; 35% fewer speeding tickets than in June 2019; 56% fewer tickets for running a red light than in 2019; 72% improper turn tickets; and 51% fewer moving violation tickets in total.
More information on the NYPD’s plan to increase enforcement of traffic violations in school zones is available via the New York Daily News.