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New York drivers who repeatedly flout traffic laws go largely unpunished

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A Wall Street Journal analysis reveals thousands of unpunished violations

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In the wake of the fatal Park Slope crash last week, New Yorkers have questioned why the city hasn’t done enough to punish speeding drivers. A recent Wall Street Journal analysis zeroed in on this issue and tried to understand how law enforcement officials in the city were hobbled by the laws to enforce stricter punishment.

Data examined by the Journal revealed that the license plate registered to the car involved in the deadly crash last week already had four citations for running red lights, and four citations for speeding in school zones during a 19-month period between July 2016 and February 2018. The citations are issued based on red light and speed zone cameras, and are given to vehicles as opposed to the drivers driving them.

The vehicle in the deadly Park Slope crash was just one of many repeat offenders during the 19-month period. During that time period, 19,000 vehicles had eight or more violations for running a red light or speeding in a school zone or both, according to the Journal. One vehicle had more than 65 violations during that period.

The law currently dictates that violations caught on camera are fined $50, and if that fine is paid, the violations are not reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s only when fines remain unpaid that a stricter punishment like license suspension can be enforced. Otherwise, stricter enforcement is largely carried out through the police stopping vehicles.

Pauly Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives put it very succinctly to the Journal saying it was “a culture that values driver convenience over human life.”