Vision Zero: Mayor de Blasio, Families, Seniors and Officials Call for Expansion of Life-Saving Speed Camera Program Before End of Albany Session

June 9, 2017

New report: speeding and crashes with injuries have declined dramatically at locations where cameras have been installed, but 85 percent of serious deaths and injuries happen where cameras are not permitted

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio called for the passage of state legislation to expand New York City’s life-saving speed enforcement camera program before the end of session, citing powerful new City data that cameras reduce injuries and fatalities. A Department of Transportation report on the status of the current school-zone speed camera program details how speed cameras at school-zone locations have dramatically reduced speeding, by 63 percent.  These areas have also seen other encouraging safety results  -- 15.1 percent fewer injury crashes and 23 percent fewer pedestrian crashes at locations across the five boroughs where the cameras have been installed.  Yet 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 administration and advocates are engaged in a major push to loosen those restrictions and save more lives.

"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," said Mayor de Blasio.  "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,” said 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.”

“New speed cameras would be another tool in our effort to enforce existing speeding laws,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “Our goal: to continue to reduce traffic fatalities across our City.”

"Speeding remains rampant in areas of New York City where speed cameras are not allowed to operate,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “It is inexcusable that in just one late afternoon this week, 92% of drivers outside PS/IS 30 in Bay Ridge were speeding, and 75% of drivers were speeding outside Susan E. Wagner High School in Staten Island where a 15-year-old student was injured by a driver on Tuesday. We know speed safety cameras can prevent crashes like that one, because the city's own data proves it. Speed safety cameras are effective and popular and with such an obvious epidemic of speeding on our streets, the State Legislature must pass a bill this session and help New Yorkers protect their children and their neighborhoods from dangerous drivers."

DOT’s Automated Speed Enforcement Program Report 2014-2016 (see link) 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 analysis of school zones that ranked them according by number of traffic injuries during school hours on school days. In addition to this crash data, DOT also considered speeding data, roadway design, engineering judgment and the crash history of that school speed zone. In addition, DOT 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 speed-camera report:

  • Speeding has declined by an average of 63 percent at speed camera locations.
  • On several Vision Zero Priority Corridors, declines in speeding were even greater.  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 the street has not seen a traffic fatality in over two years.  Along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, speeding declined by 85 percent.
  • Crashes with injuries have declined by 15 percent at camera locations, and pedestrian injuries have declined by 23 percent.
  • The vast majority of drivers receiving summonses are first-time offenders, and over 80 percent of drivers do not get another speeding summons after receiving their first.
  • 85 percent of serious crashes happen at places and at times where speed cameras are not active.

Under the current law, the speed cameras currently in operation are only allowed to be turned on 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.   The legislation pending in Albany (A7798/S6046), sponsored by Assembly member Deborah Glick and Senator Jose Peralta, 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, as well as on major thoroughfares in close proximity to schools where enforcement is prohibited under current law. Enforcement would also be permitted year-round between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm to capture speeding during the most dangerous and crash prone times. The legislation also extends the program through 2022. Additionally, the proposal requires signage within 300 feet of a school zone and prohibits the placement of cameras within 300 feet of a highway exit ramp.

The Mayor also cited the latest Vision Zero fatality statistics for 2017. Year-to-date, New York City has seen 77 traffic fatalities in 2017, compared to 89 by this date in 2016 – a 13 percent decline.  The number of pedestrians struck and killed has gone from 50 in 2016 to 43 in 2017, a 14 percent decline.

“Too many pedestrians are injured or killed crossing our streets and too often, these pedestrians are our children,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “We know that speed cameras reduce driver speeds and crashes significantly, saving hundreds of lives each and every year. However these cameras are only located in a small fraction of school zones, falsely signaling that some children’s safety is more important than others. It is past time that New York State prioritize the safety of all our children and support these critical efforts to save lives.”
  
"Public safety should underpin every decision we make in government, which is why the decision to expand our City's speed camera program is so clear,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.  “Speed cameras save lives, and the data proves we have a powerful opportunity to prevent more serious deaths and injuries while making our streets safer for all who use them. This is a no-brainer that the State Legislature must act on this session."

“All young New Yorkers deserve our strongest protection, at all hours of the day,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said “Speed cameras reduce traffic fatalities through consistent, certain, and fair enforcement of speed limits. Our kids need them at every school.”

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “As Brooklyn’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to protecting pedestrians and holding drivers accountable for injuries caused by their reckless driving. Speed cameras near schools have proven to be an effective tool in reducing speeding violations, making their expansion to all school zones a common sense step that will help keep our students and pedestrians safe. I fully support the Every School Safety Camera Act.”

“Simply put, my proposal is about making sure New York City streets are safer for our schoolchildren,” said State Senator Jose Peralta.  “Studies show that speed cameras deter motorists from speeding, so let’s ensure that we slow down traffic in school zones by expanding and extending the speed camera program. According to the City’s Department of Transportation, there was a 63% decrease in speeding violations issued at school zones where cameras are installed. I want to thank Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets and all of the organizations supporting the legislation to expand this program to keep our children safe from reckless drivers.”

"The life-saving results of the school zone speed camera pilot program speak for themselves,” said State Senator Marisol Alcàntara. “In a city as densely populated as ours, we should not see traffic deaths, especially the deaths of schoolchildren, as an acceptable reality for our city. By preventing speeding in school zones, families across the city will be spared the heartbreak of a lost child and children will grow up to reach their full potential. Protecting our city's children should be the first priority of its' political leadership, and I fully support this proposal for that reason."

"Having safe streets should be a priority in New York,” said State Senator Jamaal Bailey. “I am proud to support bill S6046 that will expand and improve part of Vision Zero's school based speed enforcement cameras. This is one step closer at making our streets safer."

"As a parent of a first grader, I'm personally concerned about speeding and reckless driving in front of my daughter's public school,”  said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “The speed safety cameras bill will help ensure that motorists are held accountable and school zones are kept safe for our kids and other pedestrians. There's simply no excuse for Albany not to pass this critical bill before the end of session."

One of our first responsibilities in government is to keep our citizens safe, especially our kids,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “We know that speeding cars are a leading cause of death for kids in New York City. We also know that speed cameras significantly reduce speeding in the areas where they are deployed. There’s simply no reason for the state to stand in the way of expanding this successful program. We need to pass S6046 and let New York City protect our kids."
  
“No child’s life should be put in danger on their way to and from school,“ said Assembly Member Deborah Glick.  “Speed cameras have already proven to be an effective tool to protect children, parents, teachers and others by putting motorists on notice that reckless speeding will not be tolerated.  The time has come to expand this lifesaving program.”

“I stand firmly with the Every School Coalition, Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets and thousands of many concerned and engaged parents calling for the passage of bill A7798, which would allow New York City to expand its speed safety camera enforcement program from 140 school zones to 750 school zones,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte. “The program has already proven to be successful with incidents of speeding dropping over 50% and incidents of injury by more than 13% but this is only in the 140 school zones that it operates. Now we need this program to be expanded to protect EVERY child in EVERY school zone. I urge all of my colleagues in the Assembly and in the Senate to ensure the safety of all our children by passing this bill.”
 
"Deaths and injuries caused by speeding vehicles are one hundred percent preventable, and the city's speed camera program has done a commendable job of decreasing the risk of these tragic accidents in areas where large numbers of children walk and play," said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, a sponsor of the legislation. "It's only natural to want to expand a program with such impressive results -- especially when the evidence of this success is young lives saved."

“The data is clear.  Speed cameras prevent crashes and save lives,” Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried.  “They work for pedestrians, drivers and passengers.  Albany should get out of the way and let New York City decide how many speed cameras we should have and where they should go."

“I’m proud to co-sponsor this critical legislation that aims to protect school children and pedestrians from speeding motorists in reduced speed school zones,” said Assembly Member Pamela Harris. “In areas where speed safety cameras have been installed, NYC DOT has seen a 60% drop in speeding infractions. However, the existing program is limited by state law to only 140 schools, a fraction of the more than 2,000 schools in New York State. We must work together to pass this common-sense legislation because nothing is more important than the safety of our children.”

“Speeding motorists continue to put school children in danger,” said Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. There has been a 60% drop in motorist ticketing where speed safety cameras have been installed. This bill expands the number of schools that can utilize traffic cameras to ensure that motorists follow posted speed limits.”

"Speed cameras are a proven, effective way to keep our neighborhoods and children safe," said Assembly Member Dan Quart. "I'm proud to cosponsor legislation that will expand this life-saving program and encourage safe driving. Speeding kills more New Yorkers than any other driver behavior and we must do all we can to stop these preventable fatalities and injuries."

"Speed safety cameras save lives, plain and simple. And when they are installed in school zones, they save children's lives," said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal. "In this equation the calculus is simple: install speed safety cameras in all school zones, reduce speeding and serious injuries and fatalities as a result. The pilot bore that out, and it's high time we expand the protections that 7% of students benefit from to all students citywide."

“I commend my colleague Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Senator Jose Peralta, Transportation Alternatives and advocates for continuing the fight for the safety of our children with the Speed Safety Camera Act,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. “According to Transportation Alternatives, speeding kills more New Yorkers than drunk driving and cell phone use combined. The numbers don’t lie — in the 140 school zones where cameras have been installed, they have been impactful, decreasing speeding violations. I am proud to support legislation to keep our children out of harm’s way in every neighborhood across our city. It is our duty to take necessary steps to prevent tragedy with available technology and expand, extend and improve the speed safety program.”

“It’s time for Albany to pass this simple life-saving bill which allows more schools to have speed cameras and ensures that our kids are safer when they go to school. The facts are clear: we have seen a huge drop in speeding violations and a drop in injuries at schools where cameras were set up. It’s a no-brainer that we should expand this successful safety camera program so that we can protect more schoolchildren throughout New York City. I want to thank Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets, Assemblymember Glick, Senator Peralta, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and Mayor Bill de Blasio for their leadership on this issue,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.

“Speed cameras in school zones are a proven method to stop speeding and keep our children safe,” said Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “After installing 140 speed cameras in school zones across our City, speeding dropped by 60 percent in those zones. I join with a broad coalition of transportation safety advocates to call on the State Assembly and Senate to pass legislation to immediately expand the safety camera program from 140 to 750 cameras. Lives are on the line, and we must act to protect our children from reckless speeding.”
  
"Speeding drivers kill people,“ said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.  “Children are especially at risk.  Safety cameras must be part of any effective strategy to reduce speeding, especially near schools.  I'm calling on the State legislature to pass and the Governor to sign S.6046 and A. 779 to provide speed safety cameras to 750 schools - five times more schools than are covered today - and to increase the number of hours the cameras operate throughout the year.  Let's make our streets safe and make sure kids are protected from speeding drivers."

“Speeding is dangerous for all New Yorkers, including cyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers,” said New York City Council Member Andrew Cohen (D-Bronx). “We need to do everything we can to reduce speeding, and increasing the number of speed safety cameras is a huge part of that. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this bill which will keep our schools, our drivers, our pedestrians, and our cyclists safe.”

"Speed safety cameras help reduce speeding, the #1 cause of traffic fatalities,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides.  “Decreasing speeding near schools will help keep children safer.  That's why we call for passage of S. 6046 and A. 7798 to expand the amount of speed cameras near schools.  Thank you to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Transportation Alternatives for leadership on this important public safety issue."

"This updated legislation provides a proven method to protect pedestrians near schools," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "I strongly urge Albany to pass it this session." 

"Drivers breaking the law and speeding near New York City schools need to learn this behavior is dangerous and will not be tolerated," said New York City Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan). "If we expand the radius around schools where cameras are installed and how long into the evening the cameras operate, motorists will have no choice but to be more careful and slow down when driving near every New York City school. Simply put: we need cameras at every school."
  
“We know that speed cameras have a real impact on driver behavior – they can reduce speeding by more than 50%. This has a huge impact on pedestrian safety, especially where our children are walking. Expanding when and where these cameras can be used is a crucial step toward Vision Zero,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

“AARP New York’s Beth Finkel said “safer roads are essential to age-friendly communities, which are key to making New York City a more attractive place to age and retire. Seniors represent 17% of the city’s population but 47% of its traffic fatalities, and an AARP survey of 50-plus voters in the city found two-thirds consider cars not yielding to pedestrians to be a problem,” said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP New York. “Something needs to be done. Speed cameras have proven to be an effective deterrent against dangerous driving, and AARP stands with Transportation Alternatives in full support of the state legislation proposed by Mayor de Blasio to vastly expand the use of speed cameras around city schools.”
 
About Vision Zero

In January 2017, after three successive years of declines in traffic fatalities, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City would make an additional $400 million investment in Vision Zero – for a total of $1.6 billion over the next five years. DOT is implementing its most aggressive street redesign safety program, an increased investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures citywide. Other Vision Zero changes announced by the Mayor include ensuring NYPD crossing guards at every post, faster replacement of street markings, intersection upgrades in the bike-lane network, more left-turn calming efforts, brighter lighting and more equipment at each police precinct to catch speeding.

For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see www.nyc.gov/visionzero.

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