By Bill Parry
The city’s speed camera program in school zones would be greatly expanded under legislation introduced Monday in Albany. Dozens of street safety advocates joined state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) as he proposed adding 610 cameras, up from the current 140 school-zone locations citywide, in an effort to crack down on speeding.
“This bill will save lives and make our streets safer for everyone,” Peralta said. “Every day more than 1 million children, teachers and parents travel to and from school, so we must ensure we deter drivers from speeding to keep everyone safe,” Peralta said. “Speeding is a leading cause of traffic fatalities in New York City, and with this mechanism we will crack down on reckless drivers. The safety of our children, and all New Yorkers, is a top priority. It is my hope we pass this measure and keep saving lives.”
The pilot program that allowed for the installation of 140 speed cameras, approved in 2013, has been successful, according to the city Department of Transportation. Between 2014 and 2016, there has been a 63 percent decline in speeding violations issued at a school zone camera location, and 81 percent of motorists who received a violation for speeding in school areas have not received a second ticket. Injuries to pedestrians, motorists and cyclists have declined by an average of 13 percent at locations where cameras are located, despite the fact that the cameras are turned off during weekends and nights.
“Under Vision Zero, we have had three successive years of declining traffic fatalities, bucking national trends that show fatalities rising,” city Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “Speed cameras have been instrumental to our success in slowing drivers down and saving lives — and so we look forward to getting this critical legislation passed this session.”
As part of the proposal to improve pedestrian safety, the cameras will be in operation from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. The use of these speed monitoring devices around city schools is limited to periods surrounding school hours and times of student activities. Additionally, the bill calls for installation of warning signs within 300 feet of a camera, and it would mandate that a camera cannot be placed within 300 feet of a highway exit.
“New Yorkers overwhelmingly support more speed enforcement cameras near schools to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said. “In a citywide poll, 84 percent of all respondents support placing speed enforcement cameras near more city schools than the 140 locations currently allowed under state law. Why are they so popular? Because they work. Less speeding means fewer injuries, fewer deaths, and less-severe crashes. It’s a simple, cost-effective, fair way to tackle a problem that is killing New Yorkers.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr