CHIYB: Vision Zero Speed Enforcement Cameras in Operation for Summer School

July 21, 2017

Mayor urges program’s expansion at Queens high school where cameras are now limited under state law

QUEENS—Mayor Bill de Blasio today warned drivers that the City’s speed enforcement cameras remain active during summer to protect summer school students and campgoers, and urged an expansion of the school zone speed-camera program. The mayor joined local leaders near William Cullen Bryant High School in Astoria where there have been 201 injuries, 13 of them severe, within ¼ mile over the past 5 years.  While a mobile speed camera will be in rotation on Newtown Road near this school this summer, that unit cannot be deployed along Northern Boulevard, a high-crash street that many students must cross in order to get to school. State law limits speed cameras to within 440 yards of a school, on a street abutting that school. The administration supported legislation by Senator Peralta and Assembly Member Glick to double the number of speed cameras in operation and extend the distance where cameras are allowed to within a ¼-mile radius of a school. 

“We know that speed cameras save lives, and we have the hard evidence to prove it,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We were disappointed that the bill sponsored by Senator Peralta and Assembly Member Glick to expand their use didn’t pass last session. In the year ahead, we and the families who so strongly support life-saving cameras face the challenge of both renewing and expanding this life-saving program, and we are redoubling our efforts to get this done.  But we know that a growing number of legislators can see these cameras work – and that we need to expand them to protect more kids at schools like this one. In the meantime, we will use speed cameras to protect children and families across New York this summer to the maximum extent permitted by current law.”

In June, Mayor de Blasio released a status report on the current speed-camera program, available here. 

“We have returned today to Northern Boulevard, which became the birthplace of Vision Zero in 2014 when 8-year old Noshat Nahian was killed  while walking with his sister,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Sadly, under current law, even though Noshat had to cross Northern Boulevard every day to get to school, his was among many schools that are not fully protected by speed cameras.   To fix that, we need Albany to focus in the year ahead on both renewing and strengthening the speed-camera law.”

Speed cameras which were installed elsewhere on Northern Boulevard have contributed to a 50% percent decline in injury crashes and 60% reduction in speeding violations. Speeding violations have declined 66% at Queens school zones with fixed speed cameras. Mobile speed cameras have been deployed at well over 100 Queens schools, and fixed cameras can be found on major streets across the borough including Queens Boulevard, Hillside Avenue, Union Turnpike, and Atlantic Avenue.

Noting that speeding is a leading cause of traffic fatalities in New York City, the speakers cited the speed-camera program’s history and background:

  • In 2013, the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo granted New York City the authority to pilot an automated speed enforcement program to deter speeding in 20 school zones. The first speed camera violation was issued in January 2014.
  • In June 2014, the pilot was expanded to 140 school zones in order to support the pursuit of the City’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.
  • Deterring speeding is critical because the faster a vehicle is moving the harder it is for the driver of that vehicle to avoid a crash. In fact, a driver at 40 MPH needs 300 feet to perceive, react and brake to an unexpected event – twice as far as a driver at 25 MPH, who only needs 150 feet.
  • A pedestrian who is struck by a vehicle travelling at 30 MPH is twice as likely to be killed as a pedestrian struck by a vehicle travelling at 25 MPH.

Since speed cameras have been installed in school zones in New York City, they have been enormously effective:

  • 63% decline in speeding violations issued at a typical school zone camera location (2014-2016)
  • 81% of vehicle owners who receive a violation for speeding within school zones have not received an additional violation.
  • Pedestrian, motorist and cyclist injury crashes have declined by an average of 15 percent at locations with a camera.
  • 85% of deaths or severe injuries between 2010 and 2014 occurred at locations or times where cameras are prohibited.

State Senator Jose Peralta said, “There is no question that speed cameras save lives, and unfortunately, we have a speeding problem in the City. The school speed camera program has been a success, and we need to ensure that we extend it, and expand it. There's a dramatic decline in speeding in areas where these cameras guard our children. I will continue to champion this life-saving initiative to ensure it not only doesn’t expire, but that we expand and strengthen it. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Transportation Alternatives and everyone advocating to protect schoolchildren in the City by supporting my proposal to expand the program.”

“We know that speed safety cameras reduce speeding by 63%. Imagine if we had a vaccine that we knew could prevent a deadly illness 63% of the time. Would we hesitate to protect our children? No. The same is true here. Our children need protection. Speed camera technology saves lives. We call on our elected leaders in Albany to ensure swift passage of legislation to expand  NYC's speed camera program when they return next session,” says Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

"Speed safety cameras help change the culture of reckless driving on our streets. Driving like a New Yorker cannot be tolerated any more. It is killing our children," said Judy Kottick of Families for Safe Streets

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

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