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February 20, 2014

A shameful suggestion for how to NYC roads and walkways safer

I was asked yesterday to contribute my thoughts to the Room for Debate section of the New York Times to address the question of "what steps can [New York City] officials, pedestrians and drivers take to reduce the number of accidents?".  My suggestion in available at this link, and here is a segment:

Perhaps Mayor de Blasio might try to impose salient shaming sanctions rather than other traditional punishments.

What if, after a reckless driver has caused a crash in Midtown, the offender were required to create a video reciting recent accident data, which would be posted on YouTube and regularly shown on screens in Times Square? What if, after a cyclist is caught dangerously weaving through traffic in Brooklyn, that scofflaw had to make a live apology during halftime of a Nets game? What if all drivers convicted of speeding were required to place bumper stickers on their cars highlighting that the owner does not follow traffic rules? ...

Because we have rarely tried to make traffic offenders “pay” for their crimes through prominent use of shaming, I cannot confidently predict it would be more effective. But given the challenges in trying to capture the attention and obedience of busy New York City drivers, it is worthwhile to consider creative alternative punishment schemes.

February 20, 2014 at 09:38 AM | Permalink


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i was just reading esquire's What I've learned interviews for this year. Glenn Greenwald has really interesting discussion on the value of privacy & how surveillance breeds conformity. I'm struck by your argument here, b/c it's that loss of privacy in shaming that would breed safer roads, and that this is one circumstance where losing our anonymity or privacy may serve us well. anyway, it's food for thought.

Posted by: anonymous | Feb 20, 2014 10:12:44 AM

The Supremacy was once interviewed for 5 minutes on a local news radio station. Pretty young ladies would just stare at the Supremacy. It would say, "What?" They would say, "Heard you on the radio."

Attention, publication, notoriety, shaming, are punishment to the lawyer dumbass, potentially highly rewarding every where else with any sense.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 20, 2014 9:36:47 PM

Such ideas of punishment are not new are were used or encouraged in states like texas as to shaming defendants, however traffic crimes? It depends, punishment has to be administrated equally and just. DUI offenders get off easy compared to the blanket definition of sex offendes and possibly other serious crimes although usually only defined "sex crimes" are registrable, if the sex registry is supposed to commit shame and public safety, then expanding the registry for dui may make certain sense, although using violent offenders would make a better argument.

In singapore, they have caning, would the defendant choose to spend more time in jail or make an apology? It can make sense, but do you trust politicians, the justice system, the courts, and juries to administer it fairly and for other offenses?

Posted by: Kris | Feb 25, 2014 3:41:43 AM

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