Speeding in the village has been a frequent topic of conversation at recent Board meetings and the issue continues to be a prime concern for Trustees. Commissioner Kenneth Jackson said traffic enforcement on Garden City’s 96 miles of roads is always a top priority for the department, which has beefed up enforcement at many of the village’s hot spots.
“Excessive speed is a Village-wide issue,” Commissioner Jackson said. “Many ask me what’s the revenue that we get from traffic enforcement. I always say, ‘less accidents.’ I’ve always said that. I care more about saving lives than revenues received. As a Department, we are attacking this issue as best we can and I do believe we are making in-roads.”
The department often analyzes accident data, including what factors led to the crashes, and considers observations made by residents, business employees, village board members, property owners’ association representatives and police officers. The department uses this information to properly focus on problem areas. In addition to the department’s already rigorous traffic enforcement program, several modifications have been made to address aggressive driving violations. One officer has been added to the Traffic Enforcement Squad. Officers assigned to overlapping tours have been assigned to traffic enforcement details. A decoy vehicle has been deployed to known high-speed locations and a portable speed indicator sign is utilized on an alternate basis in high complaint areas. While their main function is patrol, members assigned to the Patrol Division have been directed to address Stop sign violations on their posts as well as other violations that commonly occur in residential areas.
During the first nine months of 2021, officers issued 8,359 traffic tickets. Between April 1 and Oct. 11, officers issued a total of 5,959 tickets, 1,227 of which were for excessive speed violations. Further, traffic enforcement efforts have had a significant impact on the reduction of auto crashes in the village this year as compared to 2020 and pre-pandemic levels in 2019, Commissioner Jackson noted.
Earlier in the year, the department participated in the Statewide “Speed Awareness Week Enforcement Mobilization” and the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee’s “No Empty Chair” campaign, an enforcement and education initiative that promotes safe driving habits of young drivers particularly in the vicinity of schools. During this campaign, the Garden City Police Department focused its efforts on the enforcement of violations such as speeding in school zones, cell phone/texting violations and passing stopped school bus violations. The department issued 166 tickets, including eight excessive speed violations in a school zone, 13 excessive speed violations, six red light violations and seven Stop sign violations.
During the police department’s recent aggressive driving campaign in September, which coincided with the first week of schools and concentrated on locations in the vicinity of schools, bus stops and student pedestrian routes, officers issued numerous tickets for speeding, speeding in school zones, disobeying traffic signs, passing Stop signs, passing school buses and passing red traffic lights. The village has entered into an agreement with the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to participate in a grant funded, statewide police traffic services program aimed at, among other things, reducing dangerous driving behaviors. The Department’s grant totals $21,000, a $2,500 increase over last year.
To raise public awareness throughout the village, speed indicator signs are operational in the vicinity of Garden City High School, Garden City Middle School and on Clinton Road. The signs indicate the posted speed limit and your speed as you approach them. These signs serve as another tool to help mitigate speeding in the Village. This month, following resident concerns about an upsurge in collisions at the intersection of Stratford Avenue and New Hyde Park Road due to the installation of the LIRR underpass, the Traffic Commission approved the placement of speed indicator signs northbound and southbound on New Hyde Park Road. Both signs have been installed and are operational. In addition, speed indicator signs have been installed on Stewart Avenue in the vicinity of the Garden City Country Club and are awaiting electrical connection. Speed indicator signs are also scheduled to be installed on Rockaway Avenue, in the vicinity of Cherry Valley Club, and on Franklin Avenue, in the vicinity of St. Joseph’s School.
“Commissioner Jackson and I want all of our residents to drive safely and at the posted village speed limits,” Mayor Cosmo Veneziale said. “We have stepped up traffic safety enforcement on all village roads. I want to get the message out that we don’t want speeding in the Village. We want our children and our residents to be safe.”
—Submitted by the Village of Garden City