Today, State Senator Jose Peralta, Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and advocates urged the State Legislature to pass Senator Peralta’s bill (S.6046-C) that will expand and extend the New York City school zone speed camera program. The proposal will add 150 monitoring devices to the current 140 speed safety cameras operating under a pilot program approved in 2013. The program is set to expire next month unless the Legislature acts within the next five session days scheduled.
The legislation will allow 290 speed cameras to operate within a quarter mile from a designated school, beginning one hour and running until one hour after a school day. Devices will also be operational during student activities and up to 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after the activities. Additionally, Senator Peralta’s proposal calls for the installation of warning signs within 300 feet of a monitoring device, and prohibits the installation of a camera within 300 feet of a highway exit ramp.
On June 7, the New York City Council approved the home rule request required for the State Legislature to pass the bill. Senator Peralta hopes his legislation is debated and voted on before session ends. Currently, the bill has 33 co-sponsors, more than enough required for the Senate to pass the bill. Supporting the bill are all 31 members of the State Democratic Conference, along with two Republicans, Patty Ritchie and Marty Golden.
The school zone speed camera has been tremendously successful. At locations with cameras, speeding violations declined on an average of more than 60%, pedestrian injuries decreased 23%, and the vast majority of drivers ticketed (81%) did not receive a second violation.
“This is about protecting children. Who does not want to protect children? Who does not want to save lives? We need to ensure streets are safe when New York City schoolchildren travel to and from school every day. My bill will make city streets safer for kids. If we do not act, the cameras will go away in July and our kids will return to unsafe streets when they go back to school in September. I would like to thank Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, all the co-sponsors of my legislation, and all the advocates for their tireless work to keep our streets safe,” said Senator Peralta.
Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Speed cameras save lives. There are too many tragic headlines and preventable fatalities, and that is why we need more cameras to protect children, and all New Yorkers, from accidents. I commend Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblymember Deborah Glick for sponsoring this legislation, and I urge the Senate Republicans to finally bring this good bill for a vote. This is about protecting children, and it deserves a vote in the State Senate immediately.”
“This program is not just for New York City residents. There are upstate residents who have lost their children who studied or worked in New York City. Everyone will benefit if this legislation is enacted. If you live outside the City and ever drive in New York City, you will benefit because you will be safer if your child goes to college in the city. You will benefit and may not receive that dreadful call that every parent fears the most,” said Marco Conner, Legislative and Legal Director of Transportation Alternatives.
“New Yorkers 65 and over are nearly three times likelier than younger residents to be killed in pedestrian accidents. Speed cameras are a proven deterrent to dangerous driving. AARP is heartened to see support for this bill mounting, and we applaud Senators Stewart-Cousins and Peralta for their continued advocacy to expand the use of speed cameras around city schools and make New York City a safer place for residents of all ages. We urge the Senate and Assembly to pass the bill,” said Bill Ferris, AARP New York State Legislative Representative.
“We must act swiftly to renew and expand the New York City School Speed Camera program before the legislative session concludes next week. Thanks to this effective program, we have seen a significant decrease in the number of car-related accidents around 140 school zones in New York City that participate in the program. We have to renew our commitment to this safety program before it expires on June 30th, and expand it to an additional 150 school zones as proposed by my colleague Senator Peralta,” said Senator Marisol Alcantara.
“Speed cameras have proven to be effective when and where they’ve been implemented. They reduce speed related incidents and crashes. Call them a ploy, a scheme, or defy reason, whatever you want, the facts are supported by data, not claims. There is no quid pro quo when it comes to saving the lives of children. Not now, not ever,” said Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.
“The evidently-successful New York City school zone speed camera program must be expanded to protect more school children, whose safety is placed in jeopardy due to speeding motorists. Stricter enforcement of speeding laws around schools through the use of speed safety cameras will help ensure that drivers slow down and carefully look out for young children going to school. I applaud Senator Peralta for a great piece of legislation and I urge the Senate to pass it,” said Senator Jamaal Bailey.
Senator Jesse Hamilton said, “Our communities have lost too many to reckless drivers. This measure upholds public safety, using speed cameras to deter speeding, and holds those drivers who endanger our schoolchildren accountable. We need to take all the common sense steps we can to make our roads safer. We must honor the memory of all those injured or killed by deadly crashes. We stand together to create change that will save lives. Our New York communities deserve no less.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WFP-Manhattan) said: “I am a public school parent of a second grader in NYC, which is one reason I'm a strong supporter of school speed cameras. But it's not just the safety of my child that concerns me. In just one small area in Chelsea, there have been 62 crashes in the past five years. Speed safety cameras would help fix this and have been shown to reduce the number of injuries in school zones by close to 25%.”
“Unsafe driving must be addressed. Too many accidents are caused by unsafe speeds and practices. I support the New York City school zone speed camera program, and expanding it to protect our most vulnerable, young New Yorkers.” Senator Roxanne Persaud said.
“We have a very strong deterrent of careless driving that has proven to save lives. As a civil society, we must deploy every tool at our disposal to ensure the safety of our children and all pedestrians. Expanding the use of speed cameras around schools is overdue as are efforts to install cameras on school buses to catch reckless drivers who pass stopped buses picking up and dropping off our children. I join Senator Peralta in calling for swift action on this life-saving and harm-reducing legislation,” stated Senator Luis Sepulveda, member of the Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections.
“The school year is about to end, but that's no excuse for reckless driving that could end lives," said Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Queens). "An expansion of the school zone speed camera program will help cut down speeding, and save lives on City streets. Drivers will think twice about speeding and disobeying traffic laws by schools when they spot cameras and their warning signs. Those that don't - their vehicles - will have cameras snap their picture and be penalized with a fine.”
“Speed safety cameras reduced speeding by more than 63 percent in school zones according to a report from the New York City DOT, and we know speeding is a leading factor in deadly car crashes,” said Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester). “This legislation makes sense to support because having more cameras operating past school hours will ensure children and all pedestrians are safer.”
"When parents send their kids off to school, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll get there safely. New York City’s school speed camera program is a proven success. Albany needs to act now to extend and expand this program that has been a life-saver for our kids and families,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.
“When New Yorkers step foot into a crosswalk, they should be confident that their elected officials have done everything in their power to protect them -- and that’s doubly true when it comes to crosswalks near schools,” State Senator Brian Kavanagh said. “School zone speed cameras are a commonsense deterrent. They lead to slower speeds, safer drivers, and fewer accidents. New York City should have the right to place speed cameras at our schools -- and legislators shouldn’t leave Albany before we re-authorize and expand the use of these cameras.”