By Bill Parry
With the legislative session in Albany scheduled to end June 20, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) rallied with colleagues and Safe Streets advocates urging passage of his bill that would expand and extend the New York City school zone speed camera program. The proposal would add 150 monitoring devices to the current 140 speed safety cameras operating under a pilot program approved in 2013.
The program is set to expire next month unless the Legislature acts within the next five session days on the schedule. Only 7 percent of public schools in the five boroughs currently benefit from the life-saving technology, which reduces speeding by 63 percent and lowers pedestrian injuries by 23 percent at locations where they have been installed, according to the city Department of Transportation.
“This is about protecting children. Who does not want to protect children? Who does not want to save lives?” Peralta said. “We need to ensure streets are safe when New York City schoolchildren travel to and from school every day. My bill will make city street safer for kids. If we do not act, the cameras will go away in July and our kids will return to unsafe streets when they go back to school in September.”
Peralta’s bill would enable 290 speed cameras to operate within a quarter mile from a designated school, beginning one hour before and running until one hour after a school day. Devices would also be operational during student activities and up to 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after the activities. Additionally, Peralta’s proposal calls for the installation of warning signs within 300 feet of a monitoring device, and prohibits the installation of a camera within 300 feet of a highway exit ramp.
“The school year is about to end, but that’s no excuse for reckless driving that could end life,” state Sen. James Sanders (D-S. Ozone Park) said. “An expansion of the school speed camera program will cut down speeding, and save lives on city streets. Drivers will think twice about speeding and disobeying traffic laws by schools when they spot the cameras and the warning signs. Those that don’t … their vehicles will have cameras snap their picture and be finalized with a fine.”
On June 7, the City Council approved the home rule request required for the state Legislature to pass the bill. Peralta hopes his legislation is debated and voted on before the session ends. The bill has 33 co-sponsors, including two Republicans, which is more than enough for the Senate to pass the bill.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr