Local officials join mayor to demand expanded speed camera coverage near schools
As the state budget due date quickly approaches, local pols are adding their voices to those of Mayor Bill de Blasio, crash survivors and families of those affected to demand the expansion of speed camera enforcement near schools.
De Blasio and other city officials have demanded that money for more cameras be included in the budget, which is due Sunday, April 1, expressing frustration with the lack of action and contending that adding more cameras near schools could save lives.
“New Yorkers are tired of asking for the same thing year after year and getting nothing in return,” said de Blasio. “How many more people must be killed before Albany passes common sense legislation proven to save lives? Enough is enough. The time is now to extend and expand our speed cameras program – we cannot afford to wait another day.”
Key reforms included in the Speed Enforcement Camera Program are authorization for the city to install speed cameras in an additional 150 school zones, more than double the current number, revising the definition of a school zone to allow DOT to address speeding on streets near a school, as opposed to only the street or streets on which a school is located, and extending the program until 2022.
“What part of making sure drivers don’t speed near our schools would anyone disagree with? We cannot let politics get in the way of pedestrian safety,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan. “Speed cameras near schools are a proven way to calm traffic and save lives. This is a common sense plea to improve safety for children and pedestrians once and for all. Albany must pass speed safety camera legislation in the budget and expand the school zone program.”
“The numbers are clear, and they are distressing: While speeding, injuries, and fatalities are down in school zones where speed cameras have been installed, the majority of traffic-related tragedies involving children occur where or when the city cannot operate cameras,” added Councilmember Mark Treyger. “When it comes to protecting the health and safety of our children, every tool and resource must be made available.”
According to statistics provided by Brannan, where installed, speed cameras have been proven to reduce speeding in New York City school zones by 63 percent, with injuries to pedestrians dropping 23 percent.
However, under the the current restrictions, 75 percent of the children killed or severely injured while crossing the street were hit at locations or at times when the city can’t legally use a camera.
For instance, cameras cannot be installed on Ninth Street in Park Slope, in the spot where two children died after being hit by a vehicle on Monday, March 5.
“After four years of declining fatalities of Vision Zero, we know that speed cameras have saved lives, but the law authorizing New York City’s speed camera program expires this summer, putting us at a crucial juncture,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “To continue the progress we have made, we not only need Albany action to allow speed cameras on more high-crash streets close to schools, we need to expand the hours when cameras can operate. As the mayor made clear last week, we need even more enforcement tools to prevent tragic crashes like the one this month in Park Slope – but Albany can help us meet that urgent need by authorizing speed cameras as part of this budget.”
“It is very simple. Speed cameras around schools slow drivers down and save lives – children’s lives. Let’s get this done,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.
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