In 2019, the state legislature passed a law that permitted New York City to install and operate 1,647 speed cameras near 750 area school zones. These cameras only operate from 6:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. However, evidence indicates that many accidents occur in these areas outside of this time frame. The accident rates, and a recent rise in N.Y.C. roadway deaths in the zones, have raised concerns about the city’s control over its speed cameras. Here is more on why New York needs to rethink its speed control camera system.
New York City Motor Vehicle Accident Fatalities
According to a recent report, 53 people have lost their lives in New York City car accidents this year. This number marks the city’s highest death toll recorded at this point in the year since 2013. Just last year, 273 people died in the city in vehicle-related accidents, the highest total since 2014.
N.Y.C. Speed Camera Control
Currently, the city has 1,647 speed cameras that monitor the city’s 750 school speed zones and automatically issue $50 tickets to motorists who drive ten miles over the posted speed limit. The problem is that the speed cameras are only operational from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays. The speed camera control program is scheduled to expire this year despite the city’s rising traffic fatalities.
When the speed cameras are operational, they appear to be highly effective. According to one report, since they were installed, speeding violations have declined by approximately 72% in the enforcement locations during their operational periods. However, the fact remains that most traffic fatalities occurring in the zones are happening outside of operational hours. Last year, more than one out of three fatal on-street crashes occurred in school zones when the cameras were inactive.
City Officials are Calling for “Home Rule” of Speed Cameras
New York City Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez recently commented on the city’s continuing motor-vehicle-related deaths. According to Rodriguez, 70% of fatal motor vehicle accidents occur near schools during time frames when the cameras are not operational. He related that he believes the city should exert more control over its existing speed cameras. Rodriguez also said that, for years, state lawmakers have limited the hours for speed camera operation and that it’s time for the city to be granted complete control of its system. Rodriguez and others are calling for the city to have “home rule,” meaning the municipality would have the authority to control and make decisions about its speed cameras.
Rodriguez also stated that the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) plans to improve pedestrian safety measures and for there to be “a higher level of coordination on enforcement between the D.O.T. and NYPD because most of those drivers that have been involved in those crashes are drivers that have suspended licenses, they have been driving while they’re drunk, they have been driving over the speed limit.”
N.Y.C. Mayor Calls for Local Control of Speed Cameras
In March of 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and other administration officials, legislators, policymakers and advocates urged state lawmakers to grant the city the resources and tools it needs to address rising traffic violence. In addition, Mayor Adams asked that lawmakers pass legislation giving the city the authority to control its automated traffic enforcement program.
In a recent statement, Adams commented, “My job is to prevent New Yorkers from dying in our streets, and I need Albany to give me the tools to do my job. I want New Yorkers to hold me accountable for my decisions and results, which means I need home rule control over our speed cameras and red-light cameras. This is about keeping New Yorkers safe.”
Mayor Adams announced his support of legislation establishing local control, including:
- The operation of the City’s nearly 2000 cameras in 750 school speed zones, including lifting the hours of limitation.
- Red-light camera locations and fines. Presently, there are only 150 red-light cameras in place, and the fine has been limited to $50 since the cameras were authorized in 1993.
- Bus Lane Enforcement power for the D.O.T. and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for violations impede bus route operations with no bus lane.
- Local Speed Limits. City authority to establish safer speed limits on certain streets.
Senate Bill S5602/ Assembly Bill A6681
Currently, Senate Bill 5602/Assembly Bill 6681 are in committee. The proposed legislation would eliminate the time restriction on school zone speed cameras, making them operational 24/7, and increase penalties for repeat offenders.
Contact an Experienced Automobile Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured due to an automobile-related accident, you should schedule a free consultation with the experienced attorneys at Bonina & Bonina, P.C. Call us at 1888-MEDLAW1 or contact us online for a free consultation. We have decades of experience helping clients injured by motor-vehicle-related negligence, and we can explain your options and help you decide what actions you should take. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we come to work every day believing that there should be equal justice for all. Se Habla espaňol. Home and hospital visits are available.