A new report by safe streets advocacy group Transportation Alternatives found that February 2022 was “the deadliest February in New York City since at least 2008,” with 23 car crash-related fatalities. The organization’s analysis of traffic violence data show that reckless driving is still on the rise in New York City by multiple metrics, in particular red light violations. There were more such violations in 2021 than in any year since 2014, the report states, with more than a 50% increase in light-running between the second half of 2019 and the second half of 2021. June 2021 alone saw 60,638 red light violations, “or an average of 2,000 red lights run every day at only the 150 monitored locations.”
Transportation Alternatives argues that these figures provide compelling evidence for state lawmakers to transfer “home rule” powers to city officials. Currently, only the state can approve the implementation of various traffic safety measures, such as the increased operation of speed safety cameras, the installation of more red light cameras, and the use of automated enforcement cameras to monitor bus lanes. Currently, only 150 intersections are monitored by red light cameras—a figure comprising about one percent of the city’s total—and the Department of Transportation cannot add more without state say-so. “Despite these restrictions, red light cameras work,” the report stresses. “In 2019, t-bone crashes causing injuries fell as much as 58 percent at red-light camera locations, compared to a three-year period before New York City installed cameras.”
In a statement about the data showing rising traffic violence fatalities in New York City, Transportation Alternative’s Executive Director, Danny Harris, said: “State lawmakers from hundreds of miles away shouldn’t be stopping us from saving lives on streets in the five boroughs. We are in a crisis of traffic violence and New York City must be able to use every tool available to save lives now… Giving us control over the speed limit, lifting the limits on speed safety cameras, and protecting more than just one percent of intersections with red-light cameras is necessary to get Vision Zero back on track. This year, we urge Albany to save lives by transferring authority over traffic safety to the City of New York.”
New York City DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez echoed the call for home rule, saying in his own statement: “Our automated enforcement programs save lives: data shows traffic injuries drop where we install these cameras… The DOT has proven for years that it can run the largest, most effective automated enforcement program in the nation and we deserve to determine how we keep New Yorkers safe on our streets.”
More information on the rising car crash deaths in New York City, and the proposed benefits of “home rule” over traffic enforcement, is available via Transportation Alternatives and the New York Post.
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