NEW YORK — As a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist in this city, we’ve all noticed reckless drivers. Those who run red lights, park illegally, make dangerous turns, you name it, we’ve seen it.
If you’re curious about an unsafe driver – now there’s a Twitter account to help you find out more.
“When you tweet @HowsMyDrivingNY any plate and the state within the next two or three seconds, you will have a response,” said Brian Howald.
Howald, a safety advocate, pulled together volumes of data that’s all public information.
“The city has this open camera and parking violation data it’s about 25 million tickets since the year 2000. There are violations going back over 17 years and speed camera data, which only started to be issued in 2014, comprise 11 percent of all tickets given since the year 2000, despite the fact its only been in the past 4 years alone.”
Howald, a software engineer by trade, created a bot that will automatically glean city records to pull up past violations associated with the plate.
“For people who aren’t familiar with databases, it can be daunting at first,” said Howald. “So this was created to make it more accessible.”
Howald acknowledges there are limitations.
“The tool I wrote doesn’t do anything more than help make it clear to people just how often some people engage in illegal activity,” he said. “This allows people when they see someone doing something dangerous not report it but to tag it and look up how often does a person do this or do other dangerous things.”
Like many New Yorkers, Howald was horrified by the Park Slope crash last month that killed two young children, 1-year-old Joshua Lew and 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein. The accident also seriously injured their mothers. One of the moms, Tony-award winner Ruthie Ann Blumenstein, is also pregnant.
Police say the woman behind the wheel that hit them, Dorothy Bruns, had a dozen violations, including speeding and red light infractions.
“I think all New Yorkers were shocked by the crash in Park Slope,” said Howald.
Howald says he wants the Twitter account to raise awareness and further the discussion on making our streets safer.
@HowsMyDrivingNY launched a week ago and Howald has already received nearly 800 queries. Some with alarming results.
“There are certain drivers who are prolific repeat offenders, one plate with 2200 tickets. There are people with 26 or more speaking violation.”
The information is strictly on parking or red light infractions. The data does not include other moving violations.
“I want to build up the moral argument for why the city and state should change the laws in terms of dangerous driving.”