Monday, December 22, 2014

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The Call Blog: NYPD Targets Texting Drivers, DOT Redesigns Dangerous Intersection

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I agree with many of our viewers who said that pedestrians in the City should also be held responsible for committing violations and being inattentive. I'm glad the NYPD is doing a two-day crackdown on drivers this week-- they should consider doing a similar initiative for pedestrians. Distracted driving/walking is an unnecessary danger in our City.

Your thoughts and comments are posted below.

Two elements of Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero traffic initiative began today. In Manhattan, the Department of Transportation unveiled a redesign of the intersection at West 96th Street and Broadway. Changes include a new crosswalk, a ban on left turns, and a recalculation of the timing of traffic lights. Two pedestrians were killed at that intersection in January after the citywide safety initiative began.

Also today, the NYPD started a crackdown on drivers who use cell phones behind the wheel or fail to yield to pedestrians. Extra patrols will be out for 24 hours today and Friday. The penalty for a first offense ranges from a $50 to $150 fine and carries five points on a license. The fine jumps to as much as $200 for a second offense. Will these efforts make the roads safer?

Do you want to see more police looking to ticket drivers who are texting behind the wheel? How frequently do you see that happening in New York City? Should fines be raised to deter the dangerous behavior? If you live near West 96th and Broadway, will these changes make the intersection safer? What stretch of roadway needs a redesign where you live?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

If you want to see people texting, talking on hand-held devices, eating breakfast and putting on their make-up, come by the bridges! I take an express bus into the City every morning, and when we hit the RFK bridge, I look down into DOZENS of cars with people doing ALL of the above. And what bothers me is that there ARE cops there at the bridge. Instead of just checking for expired registrations, they can fine a huge percentage of people driving distracted. Just saying!

Throggs Neck

While we all applaud the effort to crack down on these idiots. It is a slippery slope, no probable cause required. This is just stop and frisk on wheels. If a telephone is surrendered to an officer as proof the driver was not using it the officer should be required to take it, and review if it was used. I am a father. A biker and a retired police officer. But see this turning into the next bench mark for determining if an officer is active. Getting a summons for doing something while not requiring evidence should be unconstitutional. And is a slippery slope.


I'm glad 96 street and Brodway has become a safer intersection because two schools are in the area, it'll give the pedestrians more time to cross and get to their destination safely. The fines for cell phone usage texting and fail to yield to pedestrians should be higer. More Patrols should be out ticketing drivers that don't obey the traffic rules its so sad to hear about someone getting killed while crossing the street.

Upper West Side

I believe the very first thing to be taken care of was the cell phones. Whether they are driving, walking or riding on public transportation they should be issued summonses. No reprieve at all and one by one little by little they could have made a huge dent with this dangerous problem that we have that is costing people their lives and or also severe accidents to themselves and others and they might just be held up for a lifetime just because of some chatter on a cell phone. For years many people have complained and it just falls on deaf ears. So get a plan and get it going immediately and we will all see a positive progress.
It will at least be a start. When the fines start kicking in it will ring a bell and they soon will realize it’s not worth it and hopefully there will be a complete turnaround. I never see police giving out tickets. But: All one has to do is stand at the corner in the Bronx or anywhere at all where there is a school located and almost every driver has a cell phone that they are operating it and if one is not aware when crossing they will get hit or even get clipped by the side view mirror. For that matter the school crossing guard can see what’s happening. I do know that they have their own job to do but it’s Happening right in front of their eyes.

Morris Park

What about ticketing the Pedestrians who Jay walk? It's always blame the driver. NYC is the cruelest state to Drivers. High Tolls, Limited Parking, Tax put on Drivers Licenses renewal, car Registration, Inspection stickers, and Buses taken over the City Streets. When will us Automobile Owners get a break.


We're by Kissena Park off of Oak Ave and we desparately need four way stops or a traffic signal at 162nd St and Oak Ave. The SUV's do not yield the right of way and speed constantly since its a straight away. Pedestrians and Pets are precluded from crossing the street. Something needs to be done and it wasnt a priority for Billionberg and his dilletante Commish of Cycling.

Kissena Park

I believe change will occur now that we have a Mayor who is serious about the issue. The police now understand this is an important part of the Mayor's agenda and will respond accordingly. One boulevard that needs a redesign is Crossbay Boulevard in Queens. I walk there every day and it is extremely dangerous for pedestrians.

Howard Beach

Hopefully the initiative to follow drivers using their cell phones will be all the times, not just today and Friday. Otherwise what kind of law is that that is valid on on Tuesdays and Fridays? Hopefully not. Me personally I don't get it. Many cars are using a GPS and most if not all, are equipped with a Bluetooth connection. So how hard is to setup the cell phone to be connected via Bluetooth? Not complicated at all. Easy to answer an emergency call if that's the case. Bad decision to add internet to mobiles as everybody think that emails are more important than their lives while driving. I wish Florida had the same laws. Florida is the worst in using their cell phones all the times while driving. Not only calls, but texting as well.

Hamilton Heights

DiBlasios vision zero will just morph into another form of "Stop&Frisk" targeting the same demographic. Instead of this law enforcement approach the Mayor should try a public education approach for pedestrians and drivers. You have women pushing baby carriages across the street while texting. Commercials showing what can result from this trusting ignorance might have a broader impact than a traffic ticket.


Texting, cellphones, and all traffic violations should be enforced at all times (not just for Vision Zero Media Events). I was all around Manhattan today and saw very little enforcement. There are engineering plans to put dangerous crosswalks underground for the past at least 25 years. DOT should dust off these plans; I think that putting certain crosswalks underground would work better than closing streets every time we turn around (34th Street prime example). Senior officials in both the NYPD and Dept of Transportation are familiar with these plans.

Midtown East

If two people have been killed at the 96th Street intersection after the new safety measures began, it would appear that Zero Vision is working contrary to plan. Re texting while walking, it's not a crime, but it is stupid be it while driving, crossing the street, ascending or descending subway stairs or just walking on the sidewalk. May all who text while not paying attention trip and fall into a sinkhole.

Port Richmond

We got a new car 18 months ago that came with built-in Bluetooth so we can talk through a dashboard speaker and answer the phone by touching a button on the steering wheel. This should become mandatory in all cars (at least new ones) because it is so much less distracting than a handset phone and incoming text messages can be converted to voice.

In terms of cars yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk, I agree cars should yield even if the car has the light but there needs to be accountability and awareness by pedestrians. My recollection is that one of the pedestrians was killed crossing in the middle of the street and not at a corner with the light. There should also be more turn arrows where the don't walk sign comes on 2/3s through the light sequence because there are many intersections where pedestrians take up most if not all of the light sequence and drivers have no choice but to be at least somewhat aggressive or they would never move. When car are turning they are by definition in the crosswalk so if something unexpected happens (i.e., a pedestrian or skate boarder bolts off of a corner - seemingly from nowhere) the reaction time is much shorter so I would consider a lower speed limit for turns of 15 mph or perhaps even slower.

Lower East Side

Expanding the power of police--this time to enforce jaywalking laws--opens up NY'ers to an exponential number of new police interactions. The last few years we have all been made all too aware of what happens when police enter our lives on a daily basis.

East Harlem

I accompanied a friend being taken to the hospital a few months ago. The traffic was heavy and fast. I looked to the front of me and saw that the ambulance driver was texting. I roused the EMT riding in the back from reading her emails and told her to tell the driver that I was going to call the cops if he didn't put the phone away. He put it away. In retrospect, I wish I had called the cops anyway. I want to see texting and yapping drivers have the law come down on them hard and heavy.

East Village

It was business as usual on Queens Blvd today. Pedestrians jaywalking, delivery bikes going through lights and stop signs, speeding, and double parking. Why is NYPD just ticketing texting violators today and speeders on Friday? It's totally absurd. Daily enforcement of every traffic and pedestrian law is the only way to go if the Vision Zero plan is to work.

Forest Hills

Of course the changes are good. No one should be texting while driving but they shouldn't be texting while crossing the street either. Several years ago I wrote to Gridlock Sam about the epidemic of people crossing the streets while on their phones, oblivious to oncoming traffic, against the light, etc. I stated that when I was a child we were ticketed for jay walking and he replied there was no need for that because there were so few instances of pedestrian deaths. Now a few years have passed and it's only gotten worse. While tragic, most accidents continue to happen because of pedestrians' mistakes.


As a driver and a pedestrian I belie we should also hold the pedestrians accountable for jaywalking and not paying attention. Drivers now have very limited space between bigger crosswalks and bike lanes. I think NYPD should also target and enforce bikes and jaywalkers. Everything has to paid by drivers.


In New Orleans it is illegal to make a left hand turn unless there is a sign. It works well there. But watching your coverage this morning I saw two people crossing outside the crosswalk and against the light. I think too much blame is being placed on drivers and not enough on pedestrians who are either breaking the law or ignoring their surroundings. Ticket them as well, not just drivers.

Bulls Head

Yes, crack down on texting and driving. Good move on 96 and broadway ... Very dangerous crossing from subway station east across Broadway to catch bus I live at 92 and second avenue The subway construction has made it very dangerous for pedestrians in neighborhood Someone was killed at second and 93 last week Turning off off second ave heading south, and left turn onto 92, there is a traffic light and no one stops Very unsafe for community citizens


Several issues need to be addressed when it comes to dangerous roads and drivers. For one, the traffic signage is confusing, too small, and out of date in some cases. Pedestrians should be ticketed as well as drivers for texting or being distracted in road traffic Legally suspended cell phone usage should be used as punishment.


The NYC police department’s traffic patrol should be authorized to ticket drivers who run lights and pedestrians who jaywalk. They have absolutely no authority so drivers and pedestrians ignore them. This should be changed.


I live in Brooklyn and the same beat cops that they park on the corners are jaywalking while texting, while driving. So I want to see them embrace their own policy


Columbus circle also dangerous for pedestrians.vehicles racing like the Autobahn.


The root cause of the risk to pedestrians is actually poor design of the new station. Two years ago, this was not an issue as you could enter the subway from the east and west sides of the streets... The city should reconsider entry points, and address cause, not symptoms.


The bike lane on prospect park west has to go. Very few bike riders use it. Most bike riders use the bike lane in the park which is much safer. There have also been a number of high profile pedestrian deaths due to the lack of visibility. You have to cross a two way bike lane and then a two lane high speed roadway. Dangerous mix. Bike lane should go. Pedestrian accidents will go down.


When I was a child, right of way of pedestrians was not an issue. It was drummed through our heads that when you cross the street you look both ways and let the car go first. With the light or against the light is not so much an issue as looking both ways and waiting for the cars to clear. Whenever I am a pedestrian or a bicyclist I basically yield the right of way to the cars and I get around. I average about 2-3 miles a day as a pedestrian and have never had a problem. I see a lot of people that see a car coming and walk right into it with the hopes that they get hit so they can sue. Very rare to do see people actually stop to look both ways and wait for the road to clear. People don’t do that anymore.


Are there any regulations governing the dollar vans which I see careening up Flatbush avenue in the evening. Their aggressive driving and need to be next to the curb with it will someday result in tragedy I fear.


As a mother of 5 children 1 of my children is deaf and also has other disabilitys. I can't believe how much the city has changed. As I am driver a pedestrian and a sports mom I spend quiet a bit of time on the streets. It has become quiet stressful.

My street was a quiet mostly residential street in midtown that was until a bike rack was installed. Every time I walk out of my building there is a chance that one of us is going to be hit with a bike they come from every direction. Yes Jay walkers are bad but they won't hurt you if they walk into you I know when driving it's harder but drivers have to watch for pedestrians but when you check for a pedestrian and it's all clear and you go to pull out now a bike breaks the red light. I very rarely see bikes stop at red lights. This is a city and bikes and pedestrians have rights too. I am so.scared for my deaf daughter and my 7 year old on the streets these days. My 7 year old has been subjected to name calling and yelled at by more bike riders it's sad.

Let's cracking down on everyone. Put numbers on bikes so they can get tickets for breaking road rules too. If everyone is treated the same then maybe everyone will wake up and obey the rules of the road and we will all be safe.


The city is almost coming to stand still the traffic today is the worse in the last 20 years.


That's all you see in Staten Island texting and driving something needs to be done


NY pedestrians are personal anarchists; at 96th and Broadway they are suicidal. At peak traffic times, vehicles turning from the southbound lane on Broadway into 96th Street, rushing to the Westside Highway, play "chicken" with pedestrians. I watch license plates and don't tangle with drivers from New Jersey, where they obviously don't have pedestrians at all. Time the traffic lights so vehicles can't move when those crosswalks are so crowded, during morning and evening rush hours, for example. And YES, ticket jaywalkers who don't obey the lights. We have to respect both sides. I live at 98th and WEA and the intersection of 96th and WEA is really scary. I don't see traffic officers issuing tickets to southbound drivers on WEA turning west on 96th, and blowing their horns at cars allowing pedestrians to cross. Then there's the double-turning -- a menace to everybody.

Upper West Side

Attention must be paid to Oak Ave and 162nd St in Flushing; we need four way stop sign or a signal at the corner. Under Mr, businessman bloomberg the Dot commish was useless unless you were a tourist driving against traffic on one of her monocycles. Speeding SUV's driving down Oak who dont yield or stop for canine, feline or homosapien.

Kissena Park

Staten Island is out of control, the streets cant handle the traffic,the population has grown so much,The streets are from the horse and buggy days.They never put new roads in place, drivers arefrustrated sitting in traffic then when drivers get little free space they speed.They need to widen aurther kill near transit center, then add new roads going to stataen island mall, then a bypass going thru dump connecting to expressway coming out of travis ave,.Also the need to make hylan blvd retractable 4 lanes in morning,.also i notice a lot of people on cell phone, plus drivers have no regard to people crossing in intersections


DOT of previous administration tried the same thing even though not named as Vision Zero. Statistic of constant number of fatalities, 180 + or - of 30 has been norm for pedestrians in NYC. Now in order to break that norm, some innovative approach should be done. Otherwise there will be embarrassment in two to three years later because all the fund allocation was for status quo hopefully not for worse situation.
I would say first step is to analyze what had not been working in previous efforts and don't repeat them and rather undo them.

What I think should be undone is the perspective. Pedestrians are only victim therefor cars should slow down. No, drivers are also victim of accidents and stressed out by too much right of way protection. No, pedestrians do not have right of way all the time. They need protection not to get hit by cars but they should know the laws to abide to stay in the sidewalk or they are against the law standing in the road while cars are moving.

Previous DOT gave pedestrians the status of sacred cows in India. They can stand or walk anywhere on road and they have the right of way. Even big umbrellas open for them in the middle of the busy traffic under the name of pedestrian plaza and they sit and look at traffic like cows chewing grass.

My vision zero crossing: the word "Crossing" is exactly the problem. They don't know how to cross street safely. Then don't cross. That doesn't mean don't move from point A to point B: TRY TO WALK PARALLEL AND WALK NOT IN FRONT OF ROLLING CARS BUT BEHIND CARS. VOILA VISION ZERO!

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