August 13, 2018
Because of State Senate inaction, none of these drivers received a summons; just before the start of school in September, the final 20 mobile cameras will also go dark, leaving students at risk
NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the first status report since the majority of New York City's school safety speed-cameras went dark last month. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), which is still collecting speed data from deactivated cameras, 132,253 drivers have been observed through Friday, August 10th exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour during school hours. On July 25th, the City was required to shut off speed cameras in 120 school zones.
"In just over two weeks' time since the cameras stopped issuing summonses, tens of thousands of drivers sped past schools. Even worse, because of State Senate inaction, these drivers will face absolutely no consequences for this lethal behavior," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "The State Senate must end their vacation early and act before the first day of school, which is just weeks away. Our children's lives depend on it."
"We at DOT know that speeding is a leading cause of traffic deaths – and so we are closely monitoring what the loss of speed cameras does to street safety," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "But we already know this much: over 130,000 drivers felt comfortable putting their fellow New Yorkers at grave risk, and because of the State Senate, they will pay no penalty for it. The Senate must act now, before the inevitable consequence of their inaction hits."
"This is a matter of life and death, and we need the Senate to return to Albany and turn the cameras back on," said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. "As we get ready for a new school year, we can't accept a reality where our kids will be less safe as they walk to and from school. The speed camera program is vital for our students, our families, and our City."
"Today's news is further evidence that we need speed cameras in school zones. Period. It is unbelievable that we have to continue begging Republicans in the State Senate to extend and expand the lifesaving school zone speed camera program, but that does not mean that we will give up. The Mayor, my colleagues in the Council and I are reinforcing our commitment to safe streets and letting it be known that we will continue to hold Senate Republicans accountable until they step up and do their jobs to protect our city's children," said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
"It is long past time for the Senate to do the right thing and step up to protect school children," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "With students returning to school in just a few short weeks, it is simply unacceptable that the Senate has refused to pass the legislation necessary to keep our children safe and save lives. #passthebill."
"New York became less safe the moment these speed cameras were turned off – and now we're seeing how important these protections were. When 132,000 drivers speed through a school zone in three weeks, that represents 132,000 times that families, children, seniors, and everyone on the street were placed in danger," said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. "When you put your neighbors at risk, you should be held accountable – and that goes for State Senators as well. Every second without these cameras is too long. We need action now."
On July 25th, the first 120 speed camera school zones operated by DOT were deactivated and stopped issuing summonses. 20 mobile speed cameras will remain operational until August 30th.
A bill to continue the use of the cameras and also to expand their use to other schools passed the Assembly and has the support of the Governor. The bill, A7798C/S6046C, has 35 co-sponsors in the Senate where only 32 votes are needed to pass any given bill. Nearly every Senator who represents New York City has supported the bill – however, it has not been brought up for a vote by the Senate leadership.
"We warned that the deactivation of our speed cameras would result in more dangerous conditions on our most vulnerable streets. I can only pray that this data sounds an ear-piercing alarm that the State Senate cannot ignore, bringing everyone back to Albany to reauthorize this critical program. If not, I fear the next announcement we make on this may be a fatal one. The presence of speed cameras is not a speed trap; their absence, however, is a death trap," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.
"This data confirms the obvious: this is a dumb, dumb, dumb fight over nothing, and it's putting our kids at risk," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I hope New Yorkers everywhere in the state hear about the Senate Republicans shutting off our school safety cameras and are outraged. Whether you live in Battery Park City, Bay Ridge, or Buffalo, children and traffic safety should always come before politics."
"Speed cameras save lives, and this data shows just how dangerous our streets can become unless they are reinstated. The State Senate must act immediately to turn these cameras back on and bring safety and security back to our streets before school starts in September," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
State Senator Jose Peralta said, "It seems that since the school zone speed camera program expired, thousands of drivers feel they can speed on our city's roads without consequences. In fact, according to DOT data, the cameras that were operating until July 25 caught more than 6,000 drivers speeding every day since. This is a clear indication that we must pass my bill to renew and expand the life-saving program. I am urging NYS Senate Majority leader John Flanagan to reconvene session and right this wrong. School starts in a little over three weeks, and if we don't act, more than one million schoolchildren will travel to and from the classroom on more dangerous streets."
"If there is any more proof needed over the need for these speed cameras, these recorded speeding numbers are it. As a prime co-sponsor of the legislation extending - and expanding – this worthy program, it is a shame that those on the Republican side of the Senate chose to ignore the life-threatening consequences of their blocking approval. I dread the potential harm our young students face with the opening of school in September. Please, let's all work together for the sake of our children's safety," State Senator Luis Sepulveda, ranking member of the Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections.
"The consequences of not extending and expanding the school safety speed-cameras law have already been felt. It is extremely troubling that thousands of drivers have been caught speeding in school zones and none of them have received the appropriate penalty for such reckless action," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "The start of the new school year should give us a renewed sense of urgency to vote for a law that will safeguard the lives of millions of New Yorkers, especially our children."
"The fact that New York City needs Albany's permission to operate speed cameras is absurd, but it is truly tragic that children's lives are being endangered because of the intransigence of a few Republican Senators who have undemocratically controlled the Senate for too many years," said State Senator Liz Krueger.
State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "Letting school speed cameras go dark on July 25 is the shame of the State Senate. As the numbers from the NYC Department of Transportation clearly show, every day of Senate inaction places more and more school kids in danger. Senator Flanagan needs to call the Senate back to finish our job and reauthorize this lifesaving legislation."
"The only thing blocking speed cameras and the safety of our school children is the New York State Senate. We can't allow any child to be at risk from a speeding driver when all it takes is a Senate vote to turn the speed cameras back on. Let's make the issue perfectly clear: cameras help save lives. We can't play politics with safety," said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz.
"The speed camera law worked to save lives by penalizing drivers' negative behavior and getting people into the habit of slowing down," said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, a co-sponsor of the bill. "Unfortunately, good habits die quickly, as the latest DOT statistics have demonstrated. With the new school year just weeks away, it is essential that the speed camera program is reactivated so that it can continue doing what it does so effectively – keeping kids and adults out of harm's way."
"Given the report on the status of NYC's school safety speed-cameras and the speeding behavior that is noted, we want to reiterate how critical it is for the NY Senate to act and do the right thing for the sake of our children's safety. These cameras cannot continue to remain deactivated when there is sufficient proof of unenforced activity that directly jeopardizes the safety of these pedestrians and as the new school year approaches, these provisions must be at top priority for our State Senate," said Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa.
"It is unconscionable that the safety of children and all New Yorkers are being put at risk every day because Republicans in the New York State Senate failed to ensure that funding was renewed for speed cameras in school zones," said Assembly Member Michael Blake. "Due to this unacceptable inaction by Republicans in the New York State Senate, within our 79th Assembly district, children and families from our 108 schools are going to be affected by injuries and fatalities unless Republicans step up in the State Senate now. Reinstating and expanding the usage of speed cameras in school zones should be immediately prioritized as we need to do all we can to save lives."
"Speed cameras save lives – plain and simple. And while my Assembly colleagues and I passed legislation to extend this critical program, the state Senate decided to play politics. The start of the school year is less than a month away and our students need these safety measures in place come September. I'm calling on the Senate to come back to Albany to pass the speed camera bill and stop putting our children's safety on the line," said Assembly Member Victor M. Pichardo.
"The inaction by the New York State Senate is troubling and irresponsible. With just a few weeks to go before the start of classes, we must put the safety of our children first and reactivate speed cameras in New York City," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Council Committee on Transportation.
"In my district, we've lost five kids to reckless driving, including the heartrending killing of 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein and 1-year-old Josh Lew this spring by a reckless driver who had 5 camera violations in the prior year alone. We're outraged that the GOP-controlled New York State Senate cares so little about the lives of our kids," said Council Member Brad Lander. "I'm grateful that New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez have called an emergency hearing for Wednesday to discuss how New York City should respond to the State Senate's abject failure of leadership. The Reckless Driver Accountability Act will help us change driver behavior and get reckless drivers off the road. Our deepest thanks to the fearless advocates, particularly Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives, who are working tirelessly to force the State Senate to turn the speed cameras back on before any more of our kids are killed, and to win safer streets for all of us. And thanks to Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg for their steadfast commitment to keeping all New Yorkers safe from traffic violence."
"After years of debate, it's shameful that the Senate GOP left Albany in June without passing legislation to extend and expand speed safety cameras near schools. Now, unless the senate majority does their job, on September 5, 1.1 million New York City children will be returning to classes for a new school year in an environment more dangerous than when they left. The State Assembly has done its job and passed the bill to renew and expand the cameras. Governor Cuomo is ready to sign the bill. And 35 State Senators, more than a majority, cosponsor the senate bill. The Republican State Senate Majority must allow a vote on S.6046C and pass it before kids return to school," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.
"Speed cameras save lives. What more is necessary to know? A State Senate vote to save lives should be the most simple thing to do. It is just one day of travel to Albany, one vote to cast and you will save lives and help prevent the terrible pain of losing a loved one, like I lost my son, Giovanni. This is about our children and our families - the most precious in our lives. Yet for some reason that is beyond comprehension the Republican State Senate leaders have refused to even vote on this. This is inexcusable. They need to do their job and make sure they pass the speed camera bill before kids return to school in September," said Raul Ampuero, father of Giovanni and Member of Families for Safe Streets.