Serious Speeding Tickets Up 70% Last Year

By: Adam H. Rosenblum Esq.  Published: 12/6/21

The pandemic brought major changes to the way New Yorkers live and work. Among those changes, it would seem, is the way New Yorkers drive. A study of traffic ticket data from the New York State DMV shows a massive uptick in dangerous levels of speeding. 

More Drivers Going 31+ mph Over the Limit

While fewer traffic tickets were written last year overall, including speeding tickets, the number of drivers ticketed for extreme speeds rose nearly 70%. More than 17,000 drivers were ticketed for going more than 31 mph over the posted limit. This is an estimated 70% increase over past years, which typically see just around 10,000 such tickets.

New york Speeding Tickets Issued for 31+ mph Over Speed Limit

A ticket for speeding more than 31 mph over the limit is no minor violation; it can cost a person up to $600 in fines alone if convicted. A state surcharge of either $88 or $93 also applies. Moreover, a ticket like this can result in between 6 and 11 points on a person’s license, which guarantees the speeder will have to pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment of $300. The number of points assessed also puts the driver at a higher risk for license suspension

Only a few months after lockdowns began last year, news outlets were reporting a concerning increase in racing and extreme speeding. It’s unclear why drivers went heavier on the accelerator, although it may have been a combination of emptier roads and lockdown-induced frustration. Overall, the total number of speeding tickets declined last year, although speeding rose as a proportion of all tickets from less than 20% to 25%. 

In 2019, police wrote more than 3.5 million traffic tickets, but just 2.3 million in 2020, a 35% decline. Nearly every category of traffic ticket declined in 2020, including speeding. However, the number of speeding tickets dropped just 16%, from 672,925 in 2019 to 565,548 in 2020. This is the smallest percentage decline of any violation recorded in the available DMV data. 

Speeding Still a Major Factor in Crashes

Along with the decrease in traffic tickets came a decrease in auto accidents last year. There were 447,000 car crashes in New York State in 2019 but only 327,000 in 2020, a 30% decline. However, speed-related accidents had one of the smallest declines of any accident factor. Unsafe speed was listed as a factor in 34,780 crashes in 2019 but only 28,239 in 2020—a dip of just 19%.

When looking at data just for speed-related accidents, one interesting trend stood out: Aggressive driving/road rage as a secondary crash factor rose more than 37%. All other secondary factors declined in 2020. However, there were 568 crashes in which both road rage and speeding contributed to the accident, up from 414 in 2019. 

Despite this, speeding still ranked as the fifth most common cause of accidents in New York State, consistent with prior year. Even though factors such as tailgating and improper lane change saw a larger percentage drop last year, each still represented a greater number of total accidents. 

Top 5 Human Factors in NYS Auto Accidents

20192020
Driver Inattention/Distraction (91,030)Driver Inattention/Distraction(62,741)
Following Too Closely (74,031)Following Too Closely (44,295)
Passing/Lane Changing/Improper Use (59,644)Passing/Lane Changing/Improper Use (41,740)
Failure to Yield Right-of-Way (60,228)Failure to Yield Right-of-Way (41,231)
Unsafe Speed (34,780)Unsafe Speed (28,239)

Conclusion

Our analysis of speeding ticket and speed-related crash data from 2020 reinforces an earlier conclusion that since the pandemic drivers seem to be exhibiting more aggressive behavior on New York State roads. It’s unclear what the main cause might be—lighter traffic patterns, more societal stress, a simple rebellion to COVID-induced restraints. Whatever the reason, for the safety of everyone, let’s hope this trend does not continue.


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