Four New York City agencies announced they would step up traffic enforcement during the holiday season. In a press release issued last week, the New York City Police Department, New York City Department of Transportation, New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced efforts “to crack down on speeding and drunk driving ahead of the holidays,” as well as efforts to improve public awareness of various traffic safety and cannabis laws.
In a statement about the effort, Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman said: “As the holiday season reaches its peak, we are proud to work with our Vision Zero partners on annual holiday enforcement – keeping New Yorkers safe from speeding, DWI, and driving under the influence of cannabis… We also continue our call for around the clock speed camera coverage in order to drive down traffic fatalities.”
According to an ABC News report, the efforts involve local NYPD officers joining high way patrols in areas known for speeding. “All of our NYPD traffic safety tools will be employed in unison with our government partners this holiday season to ensure that everyone who walks, bikes, drives and travels in New York City can do so safely,” NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Royster said in a statement. We’re raising awareness about the dangers of impaired driving and other poor choices that motorists make behind the wheel. We’re asking all New Yorkers to share in the responsibility of keeping our roads and highways safe. Only by working together can we maintain one another’s well-being as we celebrate the joy of the holidays.”
The DOT also announced that it would work with the NYPD and the DOHMH to raise awareness of New York’s new laws surrounding cannabis: specifically, that while possession is newly legal, operating a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis remains illegal (not to mention unsafe). In order to get their message out, the agencies launched a “paid media campaign” that involves radio advertisements and social media posts. Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said in a statement that “By addressing risks like consuming cannabis or alcohol and driving, we embolden Vision Zero’s efforts to improve road safety during the holiday season and beyond. If you drink or consume cannabis, don’t drive. Do it for your own safety and for the safety of everyone in your community.”
The agencies also called for expanded automated traffic enforcement. Right now, NYC’s automated enforcement program includes speed cameras in 750 school zones operating on weekdays only from 6am to 10pm. The press release noted that these cameras play a crucial role in speeding deterrence, with half of vehicles that received one violation last year not receiving a second. “However,” the press release states, “about one third of all traffic deaths this year that were not on highways occurred within school speed zones where permanent cameras are located, but happened during hours – on nights and during weekends – when the automated enforcement cameras were not legally allowed to issue summonses.” The agencies stressed their support for a bill introduced in the state legislature that would allow 24/7 automated speed camera enforcement.