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NYC Is the City of Yes For Drivers Who Run Red Lights and Speed

Fifteen speeding and red light tickets in a year? No problem.

4:56 PM EDT on October 27, 2023

Street carnage.

Street carnage (Hell Gate)

On Thursday, the same day that 7-year-old Kamari Hughes was struck and killed by an NYPD tow truck driver while he was crossing the street with his mother in Fort Greene, New York City eliminated a program designed to force dangerous drivers off the road.

The Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program was supposed to target drivers who racked up 15 or more red light camera and speeding camera tickets in a 12-month period. Tens of thousands of drivers get this many tickets, and often many more. They cost $50 apiece, and as long as you keep paying for them (or get on a payment plan) you can get as many as you want.

These drivers would be forced to take a one-time, 90 minute class, and if they did not, their vehicle would be impounded. The program was created by then-City Councilmember Brad Lander, who, in his current role as City comptroller, released a report this week detailing how DVAP was an utter failure, mostly because the City didn't care enough about it to fund it or coordinate its implementation with the Department of Transportation and the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

In its two and a half years of existence (the program began more than a year late, because, again, no one in power seemed to care), DVAP only notified 1,605 drivers of their abysmal driving records, and then promptly let 720 of them ignore the course requirement altogether; only 12 vehicles were ever impounded. (Tickets issued by human NYPD officers count against a driver's license, but they hand out just a fraction compared to speeding and red light cameras.)

In his report, Lander says that the City should actually put money and time and effort behind DVAP, because the more tickets a driver gets, the more likely they are to be involved in a crash that causes serious injury or death.

But that's not going to happen. Earlier this week, Mayor Eric Adams said that he wasn't even aware that DVAP was expiring, and Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi added that the administration "will look to the advocacy world for support to go to the state and get better restrictions and better enforcement tools." The Adams administration is passing the buck to the same state legislature that last year refused to let New York City set its own speed limits.

The message is clear: In New York City, if you roar through the streets at reckless speeds, blowing through red lights, no one cares. And if New Yorkers die at the hands of those people? Well, that's just tragic.

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