After failing to reach a final solution when the state legislative session ended on June 20, speed cameras across New York City shut down on Wednesday, July 25.
These cameras were first introduced to the city in 2014 through a New York City Department of Transportation pilot program that installed cameras in 140 school zones across New York City. These speed cameras were only activated during school hours on weekdays during the school year – with an hour buffer before and after the official school day started for the city’s students – as well as on additional “school activities.
Even though the speed cameras were only activated for parts of the day and the year, official studies found that they had a noticeable impact. According to a Department of Transportation report published in 2017 that looked into data collected from 2014 through 2016 and found that,
“injury crashes have dropped over 14 percent after the camera is activated, during all hours of the day, despite the fact that the cameras are deactivated during most of the year.”
Given the success of the pilot program, transit advocates, state officials, and city leaders, including several City Council members, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed to pass a new bill that would extend the camera’s use through 2022 as well as double the number of school zones covered. With the State Senate’s failure to pass this bill during its legislative session, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s refusal to convene a special session to attempt to vote on this bill, those advocates are upset.
<blockquote> “Despite months of notice, weeks of promises, and extraordinary advocacy by family members who lost loved ones to reckless driving, the State Senate failed to extend NYC’s life-saving school-zone speed camera program,” City Council member Brad Lander said in a statement. “As a result, the City of New York will no longer be able to issue $50 tickets to drivers who speed near schools. There is strong evidence that more drivers will speed, more crashes will take place, and more of our kids will be killed.” </blockquote>
The popularity of this bill extended beyond officials chambers. According to a recent poll conducted by the transit safety advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, 88 percent of New Yorkers surveyed were in favor of keeping the cameras active and in place.
“Imagine a government allowing drunk driving laws to lapse,” Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement. “It would be unthinkable to intentionally make our streets more dangerous, but that is exactly what the Republican leadership in the Senate has decided to do, except the offense they’ve decided to legalize is even more deadly.”
While at least one state senator complained about people being ticketed, city data shows that only 19 percent of drivers receive a second violation in the same location, and city officials report that there was a 63 percent drop in speeding violations in locations where the speed cameras were located. This led to a reported decrease of almost 25 percent in the number of pedestrians injured in car crashes.
“Our first obligation as elected officials is to ensure public safety, and there’s indisputable evidence showing speed cameras save children’s lives,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “The Senate Republicans’ refusal to return to Albany and pass this legislation is a complete dereliction of that duty.”
Road safety is incredibly important, and doing everything possible to ensure that drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are protected should be a priority of lawmakers. Unfortunately, more than 30,000 people are killed in crashes every single year, and countless more are seriously injured. Our NYC car accident attorneys at the Perecman Firm have spent decades working with injured victims, and we continue to fight tirelessly to secure them the compensation they deserve. Give our firm a call at (212) 577-9325 today to discuss your case over the phone, or fill out our online form to set up a free case evaluation.