NEW YORK, NY – Speeding tickets have doubled across New York City as drivers race down streets emptied of traffic due to coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders, Winnie Hu writes in the New York Times. The city’s automated traffic cameras issued 24,765 tickets on March 27, up from 12,672 on February 27. This comes as average rush-hour speeds have increased by 85% in Brooklyn, 84% in Queens, 58% in the Bronx, 49% in Manhattan, and 34% in Staten Island.
While total crashes from March 23 to 28 were down 63% relative to February 23-28, city officials are increasingly worried about the surfeit of high-speed collisions — especially as hospitals swell with COVID-19 patients, straining the city’s medical capacities. “We are gravely concerned about the dramatic rise in speeding we are seeing on our now emptier roadways,” transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg told Hu. “Drivers need to think about their fellow New Yorkers — and slow down. It is a small sacrifice to make during this terrible crisis.”
Several well-publicized incidents of speeding and road racing have also garnered public attention. Benjamin Chen, 33, made headlines after he nearly totaled his 2014 Gemballa Mirage GT early this April. Chen was allegedly high when he was racing down 11th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, smashing the sportscar into several parked cars.
City Councilman Justin Brannan (D-NY) recently tweeted, “Now that the streets are empty, the Fast & Furious wannabes really think they’re living in a video game.”
State Senator Andrew Gounardes, also a Democrat from Brooklyn, has introduced legislation in Albany that would provide greater protections for pedestrians, and make it easier to prosecute reckless drivers.
Taking Legal Action Against Speeding Drivers
While traffic accidents are down overall across New York as the city shelters in place to combat the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, officials are worried about an uptick in catastrophic accidents due to increased rates of speed. According to New York state law, drivers must:
- Exercise due care to avoid collisions with pedestrians
- Yield to pedestrians crossing the road in crosswalks
- Refrain from passing vehicles stopped at crosswalks
- Yield to pedestrians when the signal displays a WALK sign, and continue to yield even after the signal changes
Pedestrians are also obliged to follow traffic laws for their own safety — but the sheer size and speed of motor vehicles put them at dramatically increased risk in collisions relative to drivers. According to the New York Department of Transportation, pedestrians are 10 times more likely to die in a traffic collision than are drivers.
If you or someone you love has been injured or worse in an accident caused by a speeding driver, you deserve justice — and are entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact the New York speeding accident lawyers of Finz & Finz, P.C., today for a free consultation, and to learn how to stand up for your rights.