‘We cannot play politics with schoolchildren’: Queens lawmaker presses state for speed camera renewal

Photo courtesy of the office of Senator Jose Peralta

State Senator Jose Peralta called on his Albany colleagues to pass his bill that would renew and expand a school zone speed camera program before it expires on July 25.

Peralta held a press conference on July 12 in East Elmhurst, and was joined by advocates and families who requested that the state Senate pass Peralta’s bill (S.6046-C). Currently, there are 140 cameras that were installed following a Legislature-approved pilot program in 2013. Peralta’s bill would add 150 speed monitoring devices to the existing 140.

If the bill is not approved, the speed cameras will be shut down and removed when the existing law sunsets on July 25.

The proposal would ensure that the 290 speed cameras operate within a quarter-mile of a designated school. The cameras would be on one hour before and one hour after each school day. In addition, the devices will also run while children are participating in after-school activities and up to 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after the activities.

Peralta’s bill currently has 34 cosponsors, including the entire Democratic Conference, which is more than enough to pass the bill. At the press conference, he called on Republicans to not let the initiative expire on the 25th.

“Are Republicans against protecting children? The school zone speed camera program saved countless of lives, so there is no logical reason to let it expire,” Peralta said. “We cannot play politics with schoolchildren and New Yorker’s lives, and this is why we must ensure we renew and expand the program. If the Republicans let this initiative expire, kids in summer school will travel to and from school on more dangerous streets. The same will occur when more than 1 million schoolchildren rerun to school after the summer vacation.”

Lizi Rahman, the mother of Asif Rahman, a 22-year-old cyclist who was fatally struck by a driver in 2008, shared Peralta’s sentiments to pass the bill.

“There is no excuse for allowing politics to get in the way of saving lives. My son, Asif, would still be alive today were it not for a reckless driver. I have prayed and fought to save other families from this loss. No one has a right to speed and put our lives at risk! Speed safety cameras save lives and I call upon the New York State Senate to reconvene and pass this bill now,” said Rahman, founding member of Families for Safe Streets.

Since the program’s inception in 2014, there has been a 63 percent decline in speeding violations where devices are installed, according to a report from the mayor’s office. More than 80 percent of drivers who had been ticketed in these areas did not receive a second violation due to the cameras. Pedestrian injuries also decreased by 23 percent over the past five years.

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