As rates of motor vehicle accidents tick upwards, New York City is working overtime to implement new protections – including concrete-protected bike lanes and raised crosswalks.
But according to officials and safety advocates, there’s already a viable tool in place that isn’t being used enough: traffic cameras.
As part of an initiative from Transportation Alternatives, a Manhattan-based non-profit dedicated to making NYC streets safer, advocates are urging lawmakers to lift restrictions that limit the hours speed safety cameras are allowed to operate within the City.
Currently, state law prohibits automated NYC’s traffic cameras from operating on nights and weekends, meaning they’re not operating over half (52%) of the hours in a week. Advocates say that comes at a price – 59% of traffic deaths happen when speed safety cameras are turned off.
NYC Speed Camera Program
According to the DOT, NYC was among the first major U.S. cities to receive authorization for red light cameras, which began operating in 1993. Since their implementation, the results have been significant. Statistics show:
- A 72% decline in speeding.
- A 55% drop in traffic fatalities.
- Changes in individual driver behavior; in 2021, over half of vehicles that received one speed camera violation did not receive another.
As speeding, reckless driving behaviors, and car accidents have steadily increased through the pandemic, officials say it’s crucial that the City receive greater flexibility to use proven safety programs like speed cameras without cumbersome restrictions. Even when the program was last expanded in 2019, the cameras were limited to operating only between the hours of 6:00 am and 10:00 pm.
Now, Transportation Alternatives has partnered with local officials to petition state legislators to reauthorize NYC’s speed camera program for all hours every day before it expires on July 1, 2022. You can find more information about getting involved, and resources to email your elected officials, here.