The NYPD is kicking off its annual road safety initiative as the Big Apple prepares to roll back the clocks — with the earlier evenings making it more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists on city streets.
The “Dusk and Darkness” campaign, which is in its sixth year as part of the mayor’s Vision Zero plan, will be a “layered initiative” of preventative policing measures, focusing on increased enforcement as well as education, NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Royster said at a press conference Thursday morning.
Cops, along with the Department of Transportation, will be out across all five boroughs through the winter months to educate the public on the dangers of daylight saving time, which ends Sunday. Pedestrians and cyclists are more likely to be injured or killed during that period.
Royster said cops will focus on reckless drivers who “fail to yield to pedestrians and cyclists” and will set up vehicle safety checkpoints around the city.
“Education will be a key component to this seasonal initiative and the NYPD will be conducting outreach to drivers to remind them that their choices matter behind the wheel,” said Royster, adding data will dictate deployment.
“Where there’s an increase in injuries, increase in fatalities and increase in collisions is where we focus,” she said.
City officials have credited the initiative for an 18-percent decline in pedestrian deaths during the evening hours, compared to the five years prior.
DOT Assistant Commissioner Kim Wiley-Schwartz said this year could create a unique issue on city streets as traffic returns to normal levels and city officials still struggle to combat the “speeding epidemic” created during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“You may know that unfortunately during the pandemic we’ve seen an epidemic of speeding. Now, even with more cars on the road, we’re seeing high speeds and some terrible crashes, especially for motorists and motorcyclists,” Wiley-Schwartz said.
Wiley-Schwartz also called on Albany to take action to allow speed cameras in school zones, which have prevented speeding and fatal crashes, to operate at night or during the weekend when they are most needed.
Agency officials said they are doing their part by changing city vehicle designs to ensure city vehicles have less of a chance of contributing to fatal crashes.
“We are working to make night driving safer by investing in adaptive headlights, heated mirrors, and safety lights for work trucks,” said Keith Kerman, deputy commissioner for fleet management at the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services.
Kerman urged night drivers to “go slow, go cautious … Make sure you are taking driving at night seriously.”
“Lives depend on it,” he added.