Waiting for Raymond: Deadly Driving Too Common for NYPD to Bother With

Fatality_rates.gifPedestrians have a slim chance of living through a collision with a driver traveling 10 mph above the city speed limit -- which still doesn't meet at least one cop's threshold for issuing a ticket.
The Post ran a damning article last weekend on reckless yellow cab drivers. Armed with a radar gun, a reporter clocked cabbies regularly exceeding the city's 30 mph speed limit by as much as 20 mph. An unnamed NYPD commander also said that cab drivers are responsible for over half of all crashes in Midtown.

If only that were the whole story. A 2009 Transportation Alternatives study found that 39 percent of motorists speed through the city, heedless of school zones and other areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.

Another nugget buried in the Post piece:

Cops issued 18.3 million such tickets [for moving violations] in the Big Apple last year, down from 24.3 million in 2008, records show.

Speeding tickets are a small fraction of total moving violations issued in New York. In 2007, NYPD issued around 75,000 speeding tickets, according to TA's report "Executive Order," which also found that a city driver could speed every day and get ticketed only once every 35 years. An anonymous officer quoted by the Post claimed that cops don't generally initiate a traffic stop unless a driver is traveling 15 to 20 mph over the limit.

Speeding is not a victimless crime. TA found that while the number of traffic fatalities caused by speeding rose by 11 percent between 2001 and 2006, the number of summonses issued for speeding dropped 22 percent during the same period. A pedestrian hit by a driver obeying the city's 30 mph speed limit has about a 45 percent chance of dying as a result of the collision. At 40 mph, the likelihood of death jumps to between 70 and 85 percent.

Put another way, being hit by an automobile at 40 mph is like falling off a five-story building. The Post calculated an average speed of 37 mph by cab drivers on Park Avenue at East 84th Street.

Commissioner Ray Kelly has indicated that he is perfectly happy with NYPD's record on traffic enforcement. Contacted by Streetsblog, the Taxi and Limousine Commission gave no indication that the agency is considering measures to slow down speeding cab drivers.