The roads in New York have been very quiet in recent weeks as the state’s residents and officials battle the COVID-19 virus. New York City streets that were clogged with traffic just a few weeks ago are now virtually deserted, which many drivers have taken as an invitation to ignore posted speed limits. Cameras that were placed around the city to identify speeders and deter speeding issued 180,718 summonses between March 5 and March 24. Only 158,510 summonses were issued during a comparable period in 2019.

This rash of speeding violations came during a period when the number of cars on the roads in the five boroughs was down by more than 70% and the number of miles covered by motor vehicles was down by 80%. When a New York City Police Department official was asked if steps would be taken to protect pedestrians and cyclists from speeding motorists, he said that decisions would be made when less preliminary data became available.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to eliminate traffic deaths in the city entirely by 2024, but efforts to implement Vision Zero have been stymied in recent weeks as law enforcement and city agencies have allocated most of their resources to containing the spread of COVID-19 and enforcing social distancing restrictions. Initial figures suggest that the surge in speeding has not yet led to a significant increase in pedestrian deaths as foot traffic in New York City is also down considerably.

Motorists who receive speeding summonses in New York may find it more difficult to obtain affordable auto insurance and repeat violators could face driver’s license suspensions or revocations. This is why drivers or vehicle owners who have been cited for violating motor vehicle laws might consult with an attorney with experience in cases involving traffic tickets. Attorneys could negotiate on behalf of motorists to have fines and other penalties reduced or traffic violations dismissed.