Lawmakers approve expanded speed camera program for school zones throughout New York City


More than a million public school students will be safer now that both houses of the state Legislature voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to renew and greatly expand the use of speed cameras at 750 school zones across the five boroughs.

Since the pilot program was launched in 2014, speeding was reduced by 63 percent at locations where the speed cameras were installed, according to the DOT, with a 17 percent drop in traffic injuries.

“We will stop at nothing to aggressively pursue tools like speed cameras that we know slow down drivers and save lives around schools across the city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Vision Zero is working and more speed cameras will only deepen that progress on our streets.”

The pilot program was limited to just 140 school zones across the city, and the cameras were only activated during school hours, but the results were impressive. The cameras automatically issue $50 tickets to car going at least 10 mph faster than the posted speed limit, and 81 percent of drivers who receive summonses don’t receive another, according to the DOT.

Commissioner Polly Trottenberg applauded the passage of what is now the nation’s strongest speed camera law.

“We know speed cameras were a central part of the encouraging results we have had in New York City under Vision Zero, where fatalities have declined for five straight years, bucking national trends,” she said.

The cameras will operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the city will be required to install signs giving notice that a speed camera is in use. In addition, the cameras may be installed within a quarter-mile radius of each school, as opposed to within a quarter mile of the school entrance. The late state Senator Jose Peralta carried the bill in the upper chamber for years but Republicans blocked is calling it a cash grab and allowed the program to expire last year. Now with Democratic control of the Senate, the calculus changed.

“We have been fighting for years to protect more New Yorkers from reckless drivers, so we’re pleased to finally see this new state legislature approve a dramatic expansion of the life-saving speed safety camera program,” Families for Safe Street founding member Amy Cohen said. “As we know all too well, speeding is a deadly act and has to stop.”

The governor is expected to sign the measure into law expanding the number of cameras at New York City school zones from 140 to 750.

“Given the efficacy of the original 140-camera program, which we can say without reservation has saved lives and prevented injuries on our streets, we have no doubt that this expansion will lead to a safer walk to school for many more children in the five boroughs,” Transportation Alternatives Interim Director Marco Conner said. “This is a watershed moment for New York City that will lead to safer streets and neighborhoods during what is now the most dangerous times of the day.”

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