NYC Readying Big School-Zone Speed Camera Expansion

Starting July 11, school-zone speed cameras can operate year-round on all weekdays between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., including summer and school vacations.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the city is making extensive preparations for a major expansion of its school-zone speed camera program. When a new state law takes effect on July 11, the cameras' total hours and days of operation will double – including by for the first time protecting children and senior pedestrians on summer weekdays and evenings. The mayor was on hand May 24 as Department of Transportation staffers installed a new speed camera on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Under the limitations of the previous speed camera law, that location was not permitted to have a speed camera.

"Our streets are about to get a lot safer for our children. 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," de Blasio said.

He said DOT will accelerate its speed-camera program during the next two years, installing new cameras citywide at a rate of about 40 per month through 2019 and 60 per month in 2020. Officials expect to reach each of the law's maximum 750 school zones by June 2020; zones can have multiple cameras. The mayor also announced a public education campaign to alert New York City drivers about the changes to the law.

"The safety of our students and families is our top priority, and I thank the mayor for his leadership in dramatically expanding the number of speed cameras near our schools. Speed cameras protect our 1.1 million school children, each and every day, and they quite literally save lives," said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza.

"We are grateful to the leadership of the mayor, the governor, and the legislature, which has allowed us to be able to deploy life-saving speed cameras," added DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "With this law change, we will on July 11th double the number of hours cameras are operable. And in the months ahead, we will install new cameras at an unprecedented rate. We are hopeful that we can continue to make progress on Vision Zero, where we have seen fatalities decline in New York City for five years running."

School-zone speed cameras have been in operation in New York City since 2014, with data showing that speeding in zones with a camera declines by more than 60 percent and with more than 80 percent of violators not receiving a second ticket. The new speed-camera law was signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on May 12; it sunsets in June 2022 and requires annual progress reports to the state legislature. Other major changes to the law include allowing the speed cameras to operate year-round on all weekdays between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., including summer and school vacations. Previously, cameras' hours were variable and they could operate only during a given school's active hours.

Also, cameras' maximum distance from schools is being expanded to a quarter-mile radius from a school, rather than the previous restriction that the camera be no more than a quarter mile from a school along an abutting street. This change to the law allows cameras to be installed near hundreds more schools, according to the mayor's announcement.

Fines for speed-camera violations remain unchanged at $50, issued to those who exceed posted speed limits by more than 10 mph.

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