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CBS 2 Exclusive: De Blasio’s Caravan Caught Speeding, Violating Traffic Laws

Embarrassment Comes Just Days After Mayor Announced New Traffic Safety Initiative

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just days after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an aggressive plan to prevent traffic deaths, CBS 2 cameras caught the driver of a car carrying the mayor violating a number of traffic laws.

But the NYPD responded Thursday evening that the mayor’s caravan, which is operated by police, sometimes has to use special driving techniques for protective reasons.

As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday, the mayor’s two-car caravan was seen speeding, blowing through stop signs, and violating other traffic laws. Kramer reported that if the driver of the lead car, which carried the mayor in its passenger seat, had been cited, he would have racked up enough points to get his license suspended.

When the mayor announced his 62-point safe streets initiative, which includes lowering the speed limit to 25 mph, he said, “We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard.”

But Kramer reported the mayor failed to practice what he preached Thursday.

CBS 2 crews found Mayor de Blasio’s cars going through a stop sign at a Queens intersection, and that wasn’t the only traffic violation caught on tape.

The safety violations came just two days after the mayor unveiled his traffic safety plan.

“We’ve put a very bold plan before you, and we want the public to know we’re are holding ourselves to this standard,” de Blasio said Tuesday.

The mayor’s two-car caravan violated speed laws and racked up other motor vehicle violations after he held a news conference in Maspeth, Queens on pothole repairs.

De Blasio even filled a pothole himself. The mayor was in the front passenger seat of the lead car, driven by a member of his security detail. But being in the front, the stop sign violations were clearly seen.

Kramer said as she followed de Blasio’s caravan, his words at the road safety press conference rang her ears.

“We hope that every time someone reads one of your stories, they’re also asking themselves the question — are they handling their vehicle as responsibly as they could?” the mayor said.

But as Kramer followed de Blasio, she saw his cars go 40 to 45 mph in a 30 mph zone, and as they passed a 45 mph sign, Kramer clocked the caravan going much faster – up to 60 mph.

Under his new plan, the mayor’s goal is to reduce traffic speeds from 30 to 25 in the city and stop cabbies from speeding, too.

“The likelihood of a fatal crash and this statistic is very powerful. The likelihood of a fatal crash drops significantly for speeds below 30 mph. If we get those speeds down, it will be the difference between losing a life and saving a life,” he said.

Kramer reported if a police officer had been following the cars, and had pulled the mayor’s caravan over for his violations and issued tickets, the lead driver would have had his license suspended:

• Driving or rolling through a stop sign: 3 points;
• Driving or rolling through a stop sign a second time: 3 points;
• Going 10 mph over the 30 mph speed limit: 3 points;
• Going 15 mph over the 45 mph speed limit: 4 points.

The grand total for all four violations, had they been handed out, is 13. Your license can be suspended if you rack up just 11 points.

And that was not all Kramer found. Cars were seen changing lanes without signaling, and when the mayor got back to City Hall, he stayed in his car in the parking lot. The chase car was unable to enter the City Hall Plaza, and ended up blocking the intersection and the crosswalk – forcing pedestrians to walk around it.

The NYPD released a statement suggesting that the traffic procedures by the mayor’s security detail may have been necessary:

“The security and transportation for the Mayor are provided by the New York City Police Department. Police Department personnel assigned to the Mayor’s Security Detail receive specialized training in driving based on maintaining security as well as safety. At certain times, under certain conditions, this training may include the use of techniques such as maintaining speed with the general flow of traffic, and may sometimes include tactics to safely keep two or more police vehicles together in formation when crossing intersections,” the NYPD said in the statement. “The handling of police vehicles transporting any protectee is determined solely by police personnel based on their specialized training in executive protection and professional judgment.”

The Mayor’s office also released a statement on the caravan’s traffic violations, referring questions to the NYPD.

“We believe public safety is everyone’s responsibility. We also recognize NYPD’s training and protocols, and refer questions related to security and transportation to them. With that in mind, Mayor de Blasio is firmly committed to the traffic safety policies outlined this week,” de Blasio Press Secretary Phil Walzak said in the statement.

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