bill de blasio's new york

Tattling Taxis, Black Boxes, and Other Tech-Fixes in de Blasio’s Traffic-Safety Plan

People walk across a street inbetween taxis during a snowstorm in Manhattan on February 3, 2014 in New York City. The metro area is expecting 5 to 8 inches of snow by the evening, making for a treacherous rush hour and delaying many flights to airports.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Sitting in the back of a cab with a reckless driver can be one of the most frustrating things ever, especially when you start feeling really unsafe or fearing for the safety of others on the street. But as part of the traffic-safety plan Mayor Bill de Blasio presented on Monday, your taxi will automatically tell you when it speeds, using “pilot technology” to alert both driver and passenger the speed limit has been breached. The plan, which de Blasio is calling “Vision Zero,” includes a number of planning and enforcement measures, such as added highway patrol officers and expanded “slow zones.” But it’s packed with added technology as well.

Speed cameras, black boxes, limiters, and driver monitors make up some of the other technological changes to taxicabs under the Vision Zero plan. But the technological fixes extend far beyond the Taxi and Limousine Commission to myriad parts of government focused on traffic safety.

Police, especially, will be getting some new toys, including a lidar system, which uses infrared light to track its target’s speed and is considered far more accurate than radar. They’ll also get new technology to capture crash data, replacing the current Traffic Accident Management System. 

The Department of Transportation intends to install speed cameras at 20 more intersections and enhance lighting at 1,000. City vehicles, meanwhile, will be fitted with technology to record speeding and unsafe driving.

The new measures expand on the goal de Blasio set earlier this year to “literally reduce fatalities on our roadways to zero.” So far, that’s taken shape mostly through increased enforcement at problem intersections. The increased enforcement has presented its own set of problems, as police mostly seemed to be focusing on cracking down on jaywalking. Despite de Blasio’s insistence that no such citywide crackdown exists, the New York Times noted last week that jaywalking tickets were up massively:

Through Feb. 9, there were 215 jaywalking summonses issued, compared with 27 over the same period last year; tickets issued to drivers were down slightly.

Hopefully these new technological and planning measures will counterbalance the focus on jaywalking, which as we all know is every New Yorker’s god-given right.

Tattling Taxis and Other Traffic Tech-Fixes