Behind the Scenes

WNYC analyzes traffic tickets to find speed cameras

New York City officials won’t tell journalists where they’ve installed cameras to issue speeding tickets. So to locate the cameras, the data news team at WNYC recently analyzed 471,625 speeding tickets. Based on where and when the tickets were issued, they were able to pin down the following camera locations:

 

 

The WNYC team found the tickets listed on the city of New York’s data portal. For 2014, they totaled more than $23 million in fines, reports WNYC.

Proponents say the speed camera policy is making the city’s streets safer. To test that theory, WNYC looked at collision data within 500 yards of 21 locations that they estimated from the speeding ticket data. They found that vehicle crashes near those cameras declined 3.9 percent and that crashes with injuries near those cameras declined 13.4 percent. It’s a small sample size but interesting nonetheless. (Further reading: Do traffic tickets reduce motor vehicle accidents? from Dara Lee Luca of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.)

Critics say the cameras are a cash cow for the city. And the map shows an interesting pattern. “Almost none of the speed cameras are in Manhattan, they’re mostly in the outer boroughs,” says WNYC reporter Kat Aaron. Hear her full story here:

 

 

Whether you agree with the city’s ticketing policies or not, it’s clear that WNYC is engaged in journalism for the public good. Meanwhile, the debate has moved to WNYC’s Facebook page. We found the targeting of certain neighborhoods an interesting jumping-off point for more reporting.
 
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Aleszu Bajak
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