Before departing on a presidential campaign swing through Nevada, Mayor Bill de Blasio took care of some city business Friday, announcing plans for the rapid expansion of the school zone speed camera program which Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law earlier this month.
The city’s Department of Transportation will begin installing new cameras citywide at a rate of 40 per month through 2019, 60 per month in 2020, expecting to reach the law’s maximum 750 school zones by June 2020.
“Our streets are about to get a lot safer for our children,” de Blasio said. “We fought to expand our speed camera program and we won in Albany. Now it’s time to rapidly scale up our program to save lives and keep our kids safe.”
Authorized by state law, the school zone speed camera program had been in place since 2014 with data showing that speeding in areas with cameras declines more than 60 percent, with over 80% of violators not receiving a second ticket. Speed cameras will now operate year-round on all weekdays between 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. Previously, cameras operated during the school’s active hours. In the coming months the installations will be made in the city’s most dangerous areas like Northern Boulevard, where 12,000 school kids are zoned to cross.
Northern Boulevard is now known as the “New Boulevard of Death” after 6 young children have been killed since 2013. Overall, NYPD collision data shows 18 people have been killed on Northern Boulevard in the last 5 years, including 16 pedestrians and 404 pedestrians and cyclists have been injured.
“We’re going to be able to put speed cameras at 750 schools, protect our kids, protect their lives, ensure they’re safe,” de Blasio said on WNYC. “And that’s an expenditure that will be added to this budget that literally is about life and death.”
The late state Senator Jose Peralta carried the bill in the upper chamber for years but Republicans blocked the legislation calling it a cash grab and allowed the program to expire altogether in July 2018. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo made a rare collaboration to reinstate the program just before the start of the school year.
New York City has made so much progress in reducing traffic fatalities and so much of that progress can be credited to the use of speed cameras, but there are still far too many areas in the city that need measures to make streets safer for pedestrians,” City Councilman Donavan Richards, the Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, said. “Every life lost is a tragedy, which is why it was critical that Albany renewed and expanded the program to protect New Yorkers from the next tragic accident.This rapid expansion is the right approach to slow down reckless drivers as soon as possible.”
The program will continue to fine any motorist caught going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit receiving a $50 summons. The new law also mandates signage that alerts drivers when they are entering a school zone speed camera location.