NYC’s Speed Camera Program Shut Down To the Chagrin Of Many

The speed camera program expired to the chagrin of many advocates

Summary & Quick Facts

  • The NYC speed camera program which regulates speed limits around schools expired on July 25th.
  • Even with the proof of success and broad public support for speed cameras, lawmakers let the program expired.
  • The city is no longer authorized to hand out $50 tickets to motorists caught by the cameras
  • Injury-causing crashes have dropped over 15 percent due to the program.
  • According to the city, speed cameras pulled in $53.2 million in net revenue between 2014 and 2016, or about $17 million a year
  • There is a pending bill that would raise the number of school zones with traffic cameras from 140 to 290. 
  • While the bill has 33 sponsors in the Senate, which would guarantee passage on the floor, the bill is stuck in the Cities committee.

Too Little, too late…The Cameras Have Expired

The clock continues to tick on since NYC’s school speed camera program shut down on July 25th. Until state senators and lawmaker take action and call a vote on its extension, the program remains shut down. This also means that the city no longer has the authorization to hand out $50 tickets to motorists who speed by the cameras. City leaders say it’s a vital part of the Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities.

It’s been days since the traffic cameras in New York City school zones turned off and advocates are ramping up pressure on Republicans in the state Senate to try to get them to return to Albany and vote on a bill. The proposed bill would not only double the number of school zones covered by cameras but extend their use until 2022. It makes sense to keep this program going in a bonafide effort to protect our children at school. Advocates urge that lawmakers need to realize the program helps protect kids who attend summer school sessions. Moreover, the next school calendar year is just around the corner. What will happen when fall hits and the program is still not in effect? Learn what’s preventing it.


The Fight To Keep Speed Cameras Operational

The speed camera program enforces speed limits around schools by automatically issue $50 tickets to vehicles caught speeding. There are currently 140 school zones with speed cameras. The city reached out to Albany in the past in hopes to drastically increase that number and keep the program going. They argue that traffic injuries to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians have declined by an average of 14.8 percent around schools with cameras. While the State Assembly passed a bill to expand operations to 2022 and allow the city to add another 150 camera-enforced school zones, the Senate ended its session last month without voting on the measure.

Since the legislative session ended in June without an extension of the existing speed camera program, groups like Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets have asked legislators to return to Albany for a special session to vote on a proposed bill. This bill would raise the number of school zones with traffic cameras from 140 to 290.  While the bill has 33 sponsors in the Senate, which would guarantee passage on the floor, unfortunately, the bill is stuck in the Cities committee (which oversees any law that would affect the state’s cities). This committee has been chaired by speed camera opponent Simcha Felde an elected Democrat who caucuses with Republicans, giving them a majority in the Senate.

Why Is The Speed Camera Program Important

People don’t call New York a concrete jungle for no reason. There are dangerous intersections and streets in every neighborhood around the city. There are the ones we dread crossing every day, the ones we take the long way to avoid, and those roads where we have to be extra cautious and aware to make it to the other side. When it comes down to it, these intersections are a perfect storm of outdated traffic design, millions of motorists competing with pedestrians and cyclists to move around the city each day, drivers who flout the traffic laws. Residents frequently complain about dangerous drivers not receiving tickets, of police writing tickets for one moving violation but not others, or of an intersection that is made safe for only part of the day, during an officer’s shift. This is where speed cameras can lend a helping hand in keeping streets safe. 

Research Shows The Speed Camera Program Works

Speed Camera Statistics

Traffic cameras have a dramatic effect on the behavior of drivers. Moreover, they tend to have a chilling effect on dangerous driving habits.  Cameras help city administrators enforce the laws around red lights, speeding, bus lanes, and even illegal turns. They can do all this around the clock, catching every driver who violates the laws. They can also do a lot more by collecting data to analyze traffic patterns for improved safety. 

Since 1994, New York City’s Red Light Camera program locations have reduced running red lights by 75 percent and prevented crashes associated with running red lights by 62 percent, bringing severe injuries down by 76 percent to only 155 annually. Clearly, speed cameras have a significant effect on making city streets safe. The speed camera program has had similar effects. The program has reduced the number of crashes with injuries by a little over 15%. Moreover, the number of pedestrians injured in a crash has drastically decreased as well by 23%. 

The program has also been a big revenue generator for the city. According to the city, speed cameras pulled in $53.2 million in net revenue between 2014 and 2016. This comes out to about $17 million a year.

What do you think of the expiration of this program? Let us know in the comments below!

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