Costs of "Vision Zero" New York City Traffic Plan


Raidarmax \ Wikimedia

New York City's newly minted mayor, Bill de Blasio, unveiled the details of Vision Zero, a broad, swedish-inspired effort to reduce "traffic violence" to nil. A whole slew of technologies – speed cameras, laser guns, anti-speeding tax meters, black boxes – will be deployed if approved by the state legislature.

286 fatalities were linked to vehicles last year in New York City. That is tragically close to the murder rate of 333. The deaths are mostly attributed to "dangerous driver choices," hence the mayor's focus on reducing speed and targeting less cautious drivers. 

Vision Zero would probably reduce traffic fatalities (although not to nothing Sweden has reduced traffic-related deaths by about 50%). But the plan has consequences.

Timothy P. Carney goes eyeball to eyeball with data-gathering enabled by Vision Zero's taxi black boxes in a Washington Examiner op-ed, "How long before every car registered in, say, New York State or Maryland is required to come with a black box, whose data the state can access upon suspicion of a crime?"

We can imagine these black box devices used for bulk data collection similar to National Security Agency metadata harvesting. Reason's J.D. Tuccille describes America's splintered, Panopticon apparatus that includes traffic cameras repurposed for surveillance in Ohio.

De Blasio singles out speedy taxi drivers and apportions an enforcement squad to deal with them. But Bhairavi Desai, director of the Taxi Workers Alliance, said, "Statistics show that taxi drivers are the safest motorists on NYC streets." Officials estimate the total program would cost some tens of millions.

New York mayors have an affinity for nanny state reforms geared toward enhanced health and safety. De Blasio already plans to ban Central Park horse carriages and advance predecessor Michael Bloomberg's war on soda. New York City pioneered the ban on trans-fats and Bloomberg's last act was to ban e-cigs in public areas.

Anyway, what applies to New York City's citizens does not apply to the rule maker. The mayor's caravan was caught speeding last night.