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“Super speeders” in New York – or people who have racked up over 100 infractions for going 10 miles per hour or more above the speed limit – are on the rise. In New York City, of all places. Is nothing sacred anymore?

In a report published last week by Bloomberg, it was revealed that these repeat offenders are racking up tickets at a greater share than they ever have. In fact, according to the report, the city was equipped with 1,300 automated traffic enforcement cameras spread throughout its boroughs in 2020. This amounted for just 4 drivers reaching the ‘super speeder’ threshold. 

But by 2023, as the number of these cameras nearly doubled, the count of drivers meeting this criterion surged to 186, with one individual alone amassing 373 tickets. In the previous year, the number of speed camera tickets accumulated by fewer than 200 drivers was equivalent to the total received by the lowest-ranked 25,000 drivers.

Amid a national rise in traffic fatalities, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, speeding remains a key factor in roughly a third of all US roadway deaths. In response, cities are increasingly turning to automated enforcement, like speed cameras, a measure supported by health organizations for its potential to lessen accidents and save lives.

However, the effectiveness of such strategies is not absolute.

New York City’s extensive speed camera program, initiated a decade ago under the Vision Zero initiative by Mayor Bill de Blasio, now includes around 2,500 cameras, operating 24/7 since August 2022, Bloomberg writes.

Since this expansion, there’s been a 33% drop in tickets per hour issued, indicating a general reduction in speeding as most drivers reduce their speed after receiving one or two tickets. Yet, a significant rise in repeat offenses among a small group of persistent violators highlights the complexity of addressing traffic safety solely through enforcement. These “super speeders” now represent a majority of speeding violations, with outstanding fines averaging over $11,000 each.

New York is advancing traffic law enforcement with proposals to hike fines and lower speed limits, though their future is uncertain.

A previous initiative targeting dangerous drivers was discontinued due to its ineffectiveness. An audit also found that illegal or missing license plates led to a $100 million revenue loss from unenforceable camera tickets. Despite challenges, New York’s method of connecting tickets to plates and its extensive camera network could inspire other cities.

Transportation researcher Marcel Moran commented to Bloomberg: “So I think that New York has succeeded in one of its objectives. But the other piece is, ‘What do we do about the extremes?’ That’s when the penalty design really becomes suspect.”

He continued: “There’s no lawbreaking more normalized than speeding. There is a norm in the US of driving 10 miles over the speed limit, which results in the enforcement component: You cannot be written up for speeding unless you’re going over 10. So that enforcement norm becomes a behavioral norm.”

Read Bloomberg’s full report here


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