NYC Leaders Want More Speed Cameras Allowed

"Speed cameras are reducing traffic injuries and saving lives," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "We now need to build on this success to bring cameras to even more neighborhoods where they could make this kind of big difference."

New York City officials headed by Mayor Bill de Blasio are calling for passage of state legislation to expand the city's speed camera program before the end of session, which is scheduled for June 21. They cited a new Department of Transportation report on the status of the current school-zone speed camera program showing that cameras at school-zone locations have reduced speeding by 63 percent. Where the cameras have been installed across the city's five boroughs, there have been 15.1 percent fewer injury crashes and 23 percent fewer pedestrian crashes. However, 85 percent of the serious injuries and deaths on New York City streets happen at locations and times where cameras are not allowed to be used by state law.

"The last three years of Vision Zero were the safest period for traffic fatalities in our city's recorded history, and a significant portion of that success can be tied directly to our speed camera program," de Blasio said June 9. "But while cameras have reduced dangerous speeding, we know that 85 percent of serious deaths and injuries happen at places times when the cameras cannot legally operate. Since there can be no doubt that speed cameras save lives, and because we still have so much more to do, we urge the State Legislature to pass this life-saving expansion."

"As we have seen three successive years of declines in traffic fatalities, our new report confirms what we have suspected: Speed cameras are reducing traffic injuries and saving lives," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "Indeed, if people drive at safe speeds and New York City collects no revenue, it would be a victory. We now need to build on this success to bring cameras to even more neighborhoods where they could make this kind of big difference."

"There is no question that cameras slow speeding drivers," agreed New York City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "This is why we need more of them to patrol corridors where speeding is more prevalent. Yet Albany's inability to take action on this important issue threatens lives every day. We need leadership from my state colleagues in giving the city more discretion on where cameras are placed and the hours they can operate. We need this coverage for every school in the city so that every child can walk to school safe from danger."

The city DOT's Automated Speed Enforcement Program Report 2014-2016 was legally required under the state law that expanded the speed-camera program to 140 school zones citywide in 2014. After enactment of that law, DOT prioritized locations where it would install fixed speed cameras by an analysis of school zones that ranked them according by number of traffic injuries during school hours on school days. DOT also considered speeding data, roadway design, engineering judgment, and the crash history of the school speed zones and used its 2015 Pedestrian Safety Borough Plans, which had identified the corridors, intersections, and areas with the highest concentrations of pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries in each borough.

Among the major conclusions of the report:

  • Speeding has declined by an average of 63 percent at speed camera locations.
  • On several Vision Zero Priority Corridors, speeding declined even more: For example, on the Grand Concourse, previously the street in the Bronx with the highest rate of traffic fatalities, speeding at camera locations declined by 84 percent since cameras were installed, and there has not been a traffic death on the street in more than two years.
  • Crashes with injuries have declined by 15 percent at camera locations and pedestrian injuries have declined by 23 percent.
  • Most drivers receiving summonses are first-time offenders, and over 80 percent of drivers do not get another speeding summons after receiving their first.

Current law allows the speed cameras to be turned on only during school hours in 140 school zones citywide. They issue tickets to motorists who are caught driving more than 10 mph above the posted speed limit, issuing a $50 fine. A bill pending in the legislature would expand the speed-camera program to allow automated enforcement in a total of 750 school zones. Automated enforcement would be permitted within a half mile of a school and on major thoroughfares in close proximity to schools where enforcement is prohibited under current law.

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