Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that with the Governor’s signature of a new state law earlier this month, New York City was making extensive preparations for the dramatic expansion of its school-zone speed camera program. When the new law takes effect on Thursday, July 11, 2019, 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 today helped oversee the Department of Transportation (DOT) staff as they installed a new speed camera along West End Avenue near PS 199 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Under the limitations of the previous speed camera law, this 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,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“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,” said 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.”
The Mayor announced that over the next two years, DOT would rapidly substantially scale up its speed-camera program, installing new cameras Citywide at a rate of about 40 per month through 2019, and 60 per month in 2020, expecting to reach each of the law’s maximum 750 school zones by June, 2020 (zones can have multiple cameras). He also announced that a public education campaign would alert New York City drivers of these major changes to the law.
A Stronger Speed Camera Law: Authorized by state law, 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, with over 80 percent of violators not receiving a second ticket. The new speed-camera law, sponsored by Assembly Member Deborah Glick and State Senator Andrew Gounardes, was passed by the state legislature in March and was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on May 12th. The new law takes effect on July 11th, expanding the maximum number of school zones from 140 to 750. The new law now sunsets in June of 2022 and requires annual progress reports to the legislature. Other major changes to the law include:
Doubling Speed Camera Hours: Speed cameras will now operate year-round on all weekdays between 6 am until 10 pm, including summer and school vacations. Previously, cameras’ hours were variable, and they could only operate during a given school’s active hours. DOT estimates that the law’s expansion will on its first day double the overall number of hours when speed cameras can issue summonses.
Extending Camera Zones: Cameras’ maximum distance from schools was expanded to a ¼ mile radius from a school, rather than the previous restriction that the camera be no more than a ¼ mile of a school along an abutting street. This change to the law allows cameras to be installed near hundreds of more schools, including today along West End Avenue. In coming months, new cameras will be installed on other high-crash corridors across the five boroughs, including a long 1st Avenue in Manhattan, Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island, Northern Boulevard in Queens and Grand Concourse in the Bronx.
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Fines for speed-camera violations remain unchanged at $50, issued to those who exceed posted speed limits by more than 10 MPH. The notices of liability are issued by DOT via mail to the registrant of the vehicle – and are adjudicated at the New York City Department of Finance.
Speed Camera Expansion Public Education Campaign: As part of a new campaign, DOT will inform drivers of the dramatic changes to the speed camera law. The campaign will include bulk mailings, newspaper notices, online ads, and LinkNYC displays. Drive-time radio spots will air during traffic reports. Starting the week of June 9th, DOT will begin a 30-day countdown on social media. DOT will distribute an electronic communications kit with flyers, postcards, and other shareable content, modeled after a 2014 campaign when the Citywide speed limit was lowered to 25 MPH, to help build wider awareness about the new law.
Future Actions: The Mayor is also pushing reforms in Albany that will escalate fines and suspend the vehicle registrations of repeat speeding and red-light running offenders, and require physicians to notify the DMV following medical events that could cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle.
“Renewing and expanding speed cameras in school zones is a major victory in the fight for street safety. No parent, senior, or pedestrian of any age should live in fear of crossing the street because of speeding traffic. My bill will slow traffic and saves lives. Plain and simple. Most of all, I want to thank the families who’ve lost loved ones and the advocates for sharing their stories for making this happen. They turned their pain into purpose and got this done. We wouldn’t be here today without them,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes.
“New Yorkers want safer streets,” said Assembly Member Deborah Glick. “There is no reason to tolerate drivers speeding through communities, and especially in school zones. I am grateful that we are expanding this proven program, protecting students, caregivers and school staff from the danger posed by reckless drivers. Most importantly we owe a debt of gratitude to the advocacy groups, Families for Safe Streets & Transportation Alternatives, for their leadership on this critical issue.”
“It is undeniable that speed cameras in school zones save lives,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “The evidence clearly shows that the presence of cameras along with the threat of speed infractions encourage safe driving in school zones, and force drivers to slow down. This legislation passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Cuomo on Mother’s Day two weeks ago, will without question save the lives of children. The legislation allows the City to dramatically increase the number of speed cameras in school zones from 140 to 750 in the city. I am proud today to fully support this program and stand with Mayor de Blasio, as he announces how the City will expand and implement the speed camera program.”
“It’s straightforward: School zone speed cameras save lives. Parents across New York like me can rest a little easier now that the State Senate broke a five-year stalemate by Republicans and dramatically expanded our speed camera program in school zones. Today, Mayor de Blasio is taking the next crucial step to protect our kids by getting these cameras into operation. I commend the Mayor and Governor Cuomo and my legislative colleagues Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, and Families for Safe Streets and all the advocates who’ve been working to make this expansion a reality,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.
State Senator Robert Jackson, said, “I’m very excited to see New York City moving so quickly on this issue after my colleagues in the state legislature and I voted to expand the school-zone speed camera program. The installation of these additional cameras in school zones across the city will help keep our kids – and their parents and school staff – safer. Let’s slow down for school time!”
“When parents send their kids off to school, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll get there safely. Speed cameras significantly reduce speeding in the areas where they are deployed, saving kids’ lives and keeping all New Yorker’s safer. I’m proud that this year the Legislature finally delivered long overdue legislation to allow New York City to use these life-saving tools, and I commend Mayor de Blasio for taking swift action to deploy them,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.
“There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our communities; especially our children. I applaud the mayor for partnering with the state to expand this life-saving program,” said State Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie.
“Speed camera saves lives,” said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. “As a parent of two, I worry every day about their safety and the safety of others. Speed cameras slow down traffic and protect our children and elderly residents. I am proud to have voted in favor of this important legislation and applaud the city moving this forward.”
“Speed cameras save lives, and more cameras operating for longer hours will save more lives,” said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal. “I was tireless in my advocacy to reauthorize the City’s speed camera in school zones program, and today’s announcement about the expansion of the program is possible, in large part, because of the dogged advocacy of Families for Safe Streets and so many of my colleagues in Albany. The safety of our students should never be up for debate, and today everyone can breathe a little easier because the streets are a little safer for all New Yorkers.”
“Parents shouldn’t have to wonder whether their kids are safe on their way to school. This life-saving legislation expands speed safety cameras near schools, which we know drastically reduces speeding and injuries in those locations. We have seen far too many preventable car-related tragedies in Brooklyn neighborhoods and throughout the state. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg for rolling out this critical program seriously and quickly, and thanks to Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Families for Safe Streets, and TransAlt for fighting for this common-sense street safety measure,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, co-Sponsor of the legislation.
“New York City has made so much progress reducing traffic fatalities and so much of that progress can be credited to the use of speed cameras, but there are still far too many areas in the city that need measures to make streets safer for pedestrians,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “Every life lost is a tragedy, which is why it was critical that Albany renewed and expanded the program to protect New Yorkers from the next tragic accident. This rapid expansion is the right approach to slow down reckless drivers as soon as possible. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg for their dedication to Vision Zero and the safety of all New York City residents and visitors.”
“I would like to thank the Mayor as well as the state legislature for increasing the amount of speed cameras around our schools. It is the responsibility of the city and the state to ensure that our children are safe from irresponsible drivers while on their way to school. These speed cameras will make the message clear that our children’s safety comes first, and the drivers must obey the speed limit,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation.
“We have been fighting for years to protect more New Yorkers from reckless driving, and we are happy to finally see this dramatic expansion of the life-saving speed safety camera program. New York City has an epidemic of speeding, and this technology is a huge part of the cure. We’re grateful to Mayor de Blasio for championing safer streets. This is for my son, Sammy, and for the countless others we have lost; and today is for the unknown thousands of families who will be spared senseless loss and heartache from reckless speeding in New York City,” said Amy Cohen, Founding Member of Families for Safe Streets. “So many members of Families for Safe Streets have fought for this over several years–today is a very special day for us.”
“This achievement marks a tremendous victory for safer streets in New York City. Transportation Alternatives and the EverySchool Coalition has championed speed safety cameras because we have an epidemic of speeding that claims the lives of New Yorkers, and this technology is the most effective and most equitable speed enforcement tool. We are proud to stand with Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg in welcoming this historic expansion to a life-saving program, and we thank them for their tenacity in achieving this shared victory,” said Marco Conner, Interim Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “This is a watershed moment which will help change our culture of reckless driving and lead to safer streets and neighborhoods across New York City and beyond.”
“No child should be unsafe on their way to or from school. Sadly, speeding motorists have injured or killed pedestrians in school zones, in part because our city has been limited in enforcing our streets around schools,” said Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Today, that all changes: with new speed cameras on streets near schools, drivers will quickly learn that they can’t get away with reckless driving and endangering kids and their families. We’re glad the mayor and the NYC Department of Transportation are moving quickly to install speed cameras and are prioritizing the safety of our kids.”
“AARP New York thanks to the Mayor for his commitment to expanding the city’s network of speed cameras and their proven deterrence to dangerous driving, which will make our city’s streets safer for residents of all ages,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “His planned campaign to educate the public should increase the cameras’ effectiveness even more.”
About Vision Zero: In 2014, New York City became the first City in the United States to implement Vision Zero. Through a combination of enforcement, education and engineering, New York City made dramatic changes that have helped drive down fatalities for five consecutive years, bucking national trends. To maintain progress, since the beginning of 2019, New York City has released a Vision Zero Year 5 Report, as well as a major update to its Pedestrian Safety Action Plans.
For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see http://www.nyc.gov/visionzero.