157 Traffic Violations an Hour at Typical NYC Intersections

Transportation Alternatives continues to quantify the disregard for traffic law that New Yorkers witness every day. The organization’s newest report, From Chaos to Compliance, starts with field observations at four intersections in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. TA volunteers, using state and city statutes as a guide, observed the intersections for a combined 38 hours during the morning and evening rush hours. During those hours:

  • Drivers failed to yield the right of way 24 times an hourĀ  — 904 total incidents.
  • Drivers disregarded traffic controls (signals, signs, and roadway markings) over 100 times an hour — 3,798 total incidents.
  • Drivers made illegal turns 11 times an hour — 409 incidents.
  • Drivers crossed a double yellow line, unsafely passed cyclists, and parked or drove in a bike lane 19 times an hour — 729 total incidents.
  • Add in illegal backing up and double parking, and TA volunteers observed 157 violations per hour — 5,952 total violations. They observed no police summonses for any of these activities.

The organization recommended that NYPD use similar observation methods to determine rates of traffic law compliance, and that the city allow New Yorkers to report traffic violations via 311. Both would give the NYPD a fuller picture of where violations are occurring and which types are most common.

TA deserves credit for their concerted effort to spotlight traffic enforcement as a missing link in New York City’s movement towards safer and more sustainable streets. This year, the group has documented speeding in the city, shown how effective fake parking placards are in escaping tickets, released a comprehensive blueprint for reform of traffic enforcement, and gotten all three Manhattan district attorney candidates to commit to stricter prosecution of dangerous drivers.

5 Comments on "157 Traffic Violations an Hour at Typical NYC Intersections"

  1. What about violations by bicyclists and pedestrians as well? Is there a report that break out all of these including perhaps a breakout of technical versus substantive violations?

    Where does your organization stand on bicyclists having reflectors and or lights after dark?

  2. Are the “total incidents” you quote for the violations per intersection or the total for all four intersections ?

  3. The “total incidents” are those for all four intersections, while the 157 violations/hour is a per-intersection measure. Personally I find the per-hour averages to be more useful.

  4. G’day Douglas,

    If a car breaks a rule and hits someone then it’s usually another driver, bike or ped that suffers as a result of the drivers law breaking.

    If a bike / ped breaks a rule and stuffs up then it’s the bike / ped that usually comes off second best. They don’t kill the car driver!

    Bikes / peds don’t kill usually people, cars do.

    I do agree with you that bikes should have lights at night. I use bright clothing, reflectors and bright lights so that I am easily seen and avoided.

    Bikes & peds must have more consideration to other bikes / peds & even drivers. But don’t think that because of few careless bike or peds we are all the same.

  5. Bikes can’t hurt or kill pedestrians?

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