Brooklyn State Reps, Mayor Back DOT on Expanding Speed Cameras to 24/7

Brooklyn Eagle Staff

Originally published in The Brooklyn Eagle

Mayor de Blasio and other officials on Friday highlighted findings from a landmark Department of Transportation (DOT) report on the city’s speed camera program as he urged state leaders to allow New York City to operate the cameras 24 hours a day.

Analysis of 2020 fatalities showed that nearly 30 percent of all fatalities occur in speed camera zones during the hours they are not allowed to operate: overnight and on weekends.

“While 2020 brought its own set of challenges with COVID-19, it also brought a second epidemic of reckless driving,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “We know our speed camera program works to deter speeding, but we can do more. Nearly one-third of last year’s traffic fatalities occurred in school zones when cameras were not allowed to operate, so we continue to call on the state legislature to allow our cameras to operate 24/7.”

Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge-Bensonhurst-Gravesend-Manhattan Beach-Marine Park) and Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) would allow speed camera operation 24 hours, 7 days a week, and allows for escalating fines with subsequent notices of liability for drivers who are repeat violators.

In 2019, NYC DOT received State authorization to expand its speed camera program and operate cameras in 750 school speed zones, on all weekdays between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., and at any location within a quarter-mile radius of the school building. As outlined in this year’s report, speeding at fixed camera locations had dropped, on average, 72 percent as of December 2020.

“Speed cameras are an essential tool to fight back against dangerous driving, and state law should not force New York City to keep our city safe only some of the time,” said Mayor de Blasio.

“As a child, I was struck by a car while walking across a street and seriously injured. Countless others have been victims of a similar, or worse, fate,” said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, who is also chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.  “I believe it is our responsibility to do everything we can to prevent traffic accidents from occurring, and in this case, the Sen. Gounardes/Assemblymember Glick bill which extends the time speed cameras can operate to include nights and weekends, will serve that purpose.”

“We must do more to ensure that kids and the community are safe on city streets. DOT’s new report on the school speed camera program shows that the initiative drastically reduces speeding and injuries in those locations. The legislature must pass a lifesaving bill to expand the program and allow the city to activate the speed cameras 24/7 and increase penalties on dangerous drivers We’ve seen far too many preventable car-related tragedies in Brooklyn neighborhoods and throughout the state,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn Heights-Cobble Hill-Carroll Gardens-Gowanus).

“The epidemic of speeding throughout our city has led to serious crashes and fatalities, which are entirely preventable with the proper enforcement measures in place,” said Gounardes. “That’s why I’m proud to have introduced S5602, which would expand our speed violation monitoring systems in order to allow cameras to operate 24/7 so that we can hold drivers who are repeat violators accountable.

“It makes little sense to restrict the times in which New Yorkers are protected from the hazards of speeding drivers. I look forward to working with Senator Gounardes, Assemblymember Glick, and our colleagues in the legislature to authorize speed cameras 24/7, and I thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Gutman for their efforts in raising awareness of this important issue,” said State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (Northwest Waterfront Brooklyn-Lower East Side Manhattan)

Since the speed camera program began, just under half of vehicles receiving a Notice of Liability have not received a second. In 2020, 52% of vehicles received only one violation, even as the number of cameras increased due to the program’s expansion.