Fox 5 News recently broke a story about an NYC parking ticket warrior sitting in his official vehicle for hours playing video games.
John Deutzman, an exceptional investigative reporter, and wildly popular blogger posted an article on the subject, following up on the investigation. He also touched upon the groundswell of adverse reaction to the manner in which the parking rule against blocking the box is being enforced.
This is absolutely required reading for any member of the driving public forced to navigate the mean streets of NYC during rush hour traffic.
Here is John’s original article, my comment, and John’s reply. I hope you find the conversation informative.
Traffic Agent Games
We know for sure that a traffic agent or a cop shouldn’t be playing games while on duty. Even if it’s the guy’s break he shouldn’t be seen in the police car playing video games or whatever he was fiddling with on his PSP.
The NYPD has been mum on this investigation, but insiders tell me the punishment can range from a slap on the wrist to a more intense investigation
into exactly what this guy does while on duty. If indeed he was in the car and playing games for two hours as the guy in our story alleges he
could be the target of a full-blown investigation into his ticket writing habits.
In addition to the pictures, the other questionable item is the “missing mirror” ticket. I talked to several police sources; many of them were on the job for more than 20 years. Most of them said they never wrote a missing mirror ticket and called it a baloney ticket (but they didn’t use the word “baloney” they used a word
describing something you wouldn’t normally put in a sandwich). Curiously, the mirror was on the van when we saw it, and it didn’t look like it was replaced.
I’d love to hear your opinion and especially would like to hear from traffic agents. They get a lot of flak on the street and in the media and deserve to have their voices heard anonymously on my blog.
Great post as always. When a traffic ticket agent puts on “the uniform,” they represent NYC. They are armed with scanners and licensed to shoot an undetected beam of light at the driving public, with shock and awe value ranging from $35-$165 per ticket.
You are right about a growing parking ticket tsunami surrounding “Blocking the Box” This violation is not enforced in the manner in which the rule is written. The plain language of the rule yells out that the tipping point is not when the light turns red, and your vehicle is stuck in the box. But rather, when the light turns green and you make an evil decision to; enter the box when traffic is stopped on the opposite side of the intersection, without sufficient unobstructed space for your vehicle to fit in your lane of travel. Or, when the light turns green, and traffic is NOT moving and you enter the box anyway.
When the light turns green you are permitted to enter the box if: The traffic is moving on the opposite side of the intersection; or, if the traffic is stopped and there is sufficient, unobstructed space for your car to fit on the opposite side of the box in your lane of travel.
When the traffic light turns red, there is an out-of-control revenue rage when a battalion of parking ticket warriors storm the box,
scanners on stun, and inflict $115 worth of damage per vehicle. The
stories I hear are consistent. The ticket agents stand on the sidelines, conversing among themselves
until the light turn red. There is no way these agents observed the
vehicles when the light turned green; even though the behavior of the
driving public at that moment is the tipping point.
If the puppeteers are concerned about eliminating the evils described in the 2006 Study commissioned by the Manhattan Borough President caused by congestion in the box, why not assign some of the parking ticket agents standing on the sidelines to direct traffic in the intersection? The truth is self-evident, directing traffic will reduce the gigantic amount of revenue raised by issuing parking summons for blocking the box.
I have written 3 Blog posts on my website and Fox 5 News; and posted two videos, one on Fox 5 News and Vimeo, which have more than 2000 views. I have read and responded to more than 25 comments on my blogs; and have spoken by telephone with countless members of the driving public, who have shared their blocking the box experiences with me.
For example, one caller related that a ticket agent came out from behind a large truck, which obstructed his view of the caller’s car, preventing the agent from observing the caller’s driving behavior when the light turned green; yet issued a parking ticket with boilerplate language inserted about observations that couldn’t possibly be true.
Another example is a caller who described the ticket agents on the sidelines, talking amongst themselves while the light was green, facing away from the intersection. He entered the intersection when the light turned green with traffic moving on the opposite side. While passing through the box, two vehicles that were pulled over previously by the agents, cut in front of his vehicle re-entering his traffic lane. The light turned red, the agents turned around, stormed the box, and he was issued a $115 ticket he didn’t deserve.
We need to talk. If you legitimately block the box, then off with your head. Your bad driving behavior should cost you dearly. But, we don’t have a crystal ball in our car that predicts what will happen after the light turns green, we comply with the law and still get stuck in the box due to unforeseen circumstances. Shame on you for issuing a ticket to these unsuspecting motorists.
Education, allocating ticket agents to directing traffic in the intersection, and enforcing the law as written will go a long way to eliminating this problem.
John’s reply to Larry’s comment
Strangely, many of the blocking the box tickets are not issued to the driver. The law says if the driver is in the car, the ticket needs to be given to the driver and the agent needs to request i.d. Many of the tickets do not have the driver’s name which means that the car was driving on its own or the agent did not get the information required to make it a valid ticket.
I think it puts agents in a very tough position of issuing a ticket which should be a moving violation, issued by a real cop.
I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!
Members of the NYC driving public, it is time to open your windows and shout out to your city council person that you are mad as hell, and not going to take the blocking the box fiasco any longer. It is time to take action.
We need your help to fight this bad behavior. Don’t stand on the sidelines, take action. Please post a comment. Your opinion means a lot to us.