Crown Heights Drivers Ticketed Up to 88 Percent More This Year, Police Say

By Rachel Holliday Smith on April 23, 2014 9:44am 

 The speed limit on an approximately 8-mile stretch of Atlantic Avenue will be 25 mph as part of the city's Vision Zero initiative.
The speed limit on an approximately 8-mile stretch of Atlantic Avenue will be 25 mph as part of the city's Vision Zero initiative.
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CROWN HEIGHTS — The number of traffic tickets being issued to drivers in Crown Heights and Prospect Heights has spiked amid Mayor Bill de Blasio's push to reduce traffic fatalities and punish reckless drivers, NYPD data shows.

Drivers in the 77th Precinct, which covers portions of Crown Heights and Prospect Heights, have been hit with 88 percent more moving violations this year through March compared with the same period last year, police said. Police issued 3,942 moving violations during the first quarter of this year, compared with 2,091 last year.

In the 71st Precinct, which covers the southern portion of Crown Heights plus Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, officers issued 50 percent more moving violations this year through March compared with the same months in 2013. The NYPD gave out 3,337 tickets in the 2013 period and 4,932 tickets in the 2014 period.

While tickets are given out for violations ranging from windows tinted too dark to illegal U-turns, many of the increases were for speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians. The 77th Precinct saw a 2,500 percent increase in the number of "failure to yield" tickets, with just 3 issued in early 2013, compared to 78 this year. The 71st Precinct saw a 302 percent increase, from 50 to 201.

And speeding drivers were hit with tickets more often, too, with 53 tickets issued in early 2013 in the 77th Precinct, compared with 176 in the same period this year. In the 71st precinct, the number jumped from 33 last year to 57 this year.

The ticketing blitz comes in the wake of the rollout of the mayor’s Vision Zero plan, which targeted speeding, failure to give pedestrians the right of way and failure to stop at a signal as threats to the city's pedestrians. It also comes as the city announced plans to make Atlantic Avenue a Slow Zone — reducing the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph on the almost 8-mile corridor between the Brooklyn Heights waterfront and 76th Street in Woodhaven.

The uptick in ticketing has coincided with a drop in the number of pedestrians hit by cars in the area, the data shows. In the Crown Heights precincts, slightly fewer pedestrians have been hurt in car crashes this year than last.

Twenty-two pedestrians were hit by cars in the 77th Precinct in January and February of last year, compared with 21 this year. In the 71st precinct, the decrease is slightly larger. Thirty four pedestrians were injured in car crashes there in January and February of 2013, compared with 25 this year. No one hurt in these precincts during that time period was killed this year or last year, according to the data.

The number of pedestrians hit by cars citywide has also decreased, the data says. There were 2,123 pedestrians involved in a collision in January and February of 2013, compared with 1,915 pedestrians this year, according to the most recent available data. Of those collisions, 33 pedestrians died the first two months of 2013 versus 20 pedestrian deaths in the same months this year. These figures didn't include cyclists.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

Still, the ticketing blitz didn't sit well with everyone in the area, particularly those who make a living by driving.

Towanda Willis, the head dispatcher for Bedstar Car Service on Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights, said her drivers have gotten many more tickets since the beginning of the year.

“It seems like it doubled,” she said. “I think it’s very unfair to the drivers who come out and work hard. This is how they work. This is how they take care of their families."

City Council members and safety advocates have questioned the completeness of car crash data. Council members introduced a bill last September that would require the city's Department of Information Technology to maintain an accurate, interactive map of crash data. Records show it has not been formally discussed since December.

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