May 13, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Sunday a bill that will bring about a major expansion of the city’s speed camera network in school zones across the five boroughs.
The legislation, passed by the State Senate and Assembly in March, is an extension of a previously passed 2013 bill that authorized a five-year pilot program of 140 speed cameras in school zones throughout the city.
The new law makes provision for an additional 610 cameras, taking the total to 750, enough to cover nearly every public school in New York City. The cameras will operate on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“Something as simple as walking to and from school can be the most dangerous part of the day, especially in this city with this complexity and this density,” said Cuomo. “We have learned it the hard way. We have lost too many people, especially too many young people. We have to do better and we can do better.”
The 2013 bill expired in July of last year after the then Republican-held State Senate failed to pass a reauthorization. With no bill renewal, the cameras were turned off. Just one month later, however, Cuomo issued an executive order to turn the cameras back on for the 2018/2019 school year, declaring road conditions near schools to be too dangerous without them.
State lawmakers hope that the new bill will allow the city to build on the success of the pilot program. During the first five-years, the Department of Transportation found a 60 percent drop in speeding infractions in school zones where the cameras had been installed, as well as a 21 percent decline in the number of people killed or severely injured in crashes in the zones.
“The speed camera program in New York City has proved to be a lifesaver – reducing speeding, distracted driving and dangerous accidents in school zones,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said yesterday. “I am glad that we are finally reinstating and expanding this program, making the streets are a safer place for our all of our students, parents, school staff and pedestrians.”
Amy Cohen, founding member of Families for Safe Streets, spoke to the importance of the bill at the signing. Cohen, who lost her 12-year-old son Sammy after he was hit by a car, called the bill the best Mother’s Day gift ever.
“We are protecting the next generation of children, creating a safe passage to school,” Cohen said. “Changing the culture of reckless driving so that other mothers will get to raise their children. So that other children can grow into adults themselves.”