By Bill Parry
With the city’s school zone speed camera program set to expire in Albany next month, Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the state legislature Wednesday to immediately reauthorize and expand the life-saving strategy.
Standing at the recent site of a deadly crash in Park Slope that took the lives of two children and an unborn baby, the mayor unveiled a safer street design but urged Albany to do its part to protect kids in school zones.
“We will do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers from dangerous drivers. It’s time that leaders in Albany did the same thing,” de Blasio said. “It’s time that Albany did all in its power to protect New Yorkers from dangerous drivers. And there is more to be done and it must be done quickly.”
Currently just 140 school zones — which represent only 7 percent of public schools in the five boroughs — benefit from the life-saving technology, which reduces speeding by 63 percent and lowers pedestrian injuries by 23 percent at locations where it has been installed, according to the city Department of Transportation.
“We need school zone speed camera legislation extended and expanded immediately to prevent future tragedies in our streets,” de Blasio said. “Speed cameras save lives. We can’t wait any longer. We need the power to protect New Yorkers. Albany must act.”
The mayor wants the state to allow the city to install speed cameras at an additional 150 school zones — more than double the current number. He also wants the definition of a school zone to be revised to allow the DOT to address speeding on streets that are near a school as opposed to only the street or streets on which a school is located.
“The time for excuses is over,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “There is plenty of evidence that shows that this program has been successful since pedestrian, cyclist and motorist-related crashes have been reduced by 15 percent where speed cameras are installed. My proposal to increase the number of speed cameras has only one goal: Protect school children and New Yorkers in general. We must act before the current school zone speed camera program expires this summer, so children will not be at risk when they return to school in September.”
Since 2016, more than 2.5 million tickets have been issued to drivers caught by traffic cameras speeding through less than 10 percent of school zones currently authorized to use the cameras. This number includes more than 82,000 repeat offenders who have wracked up more than five speeding violations each in the last 26 months alone, according to city Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“Having lost family to a car accident right by a school, the issue is all too real to me, and if speed cameras can help families avoid the pain and needless death, then I absolutely support it,” state Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr