May 28, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
The Department of Transportation installed the first of hundreds of new speed cameras–specifically in school zones–on Friday.
The new speed camera, which went up near P.S. 199 on the Upper West Side, was the first to be installed since the city got the go ahead from Albany that it could put speed cameras in every school zone across the five boroughs.
The installation comes just weeks after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that renewed and expanded on 2013 legislation that had authorized a five-year pilot program. The 2013 legislation, which expired last year, allowed the city to install speed cameras in 140 school zones throughout the city.
The new law expands the program to include all 750 school zones.
“Our streets are about to get a lot safer for our children,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “We fought to expand our speed camera program and we won in Albany. Now it’s time to rapidly scale up our program to save lives and keep our kids safe.”
The DOT said that the pilot program was successful in saving lives and is hopeful that with the program’s expansion more lives will be saved. During the first five-years, the DOT reported 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.
“Vision Zero is about changing our lives once and for all for the better. It’s about changing drivers’ behavior once and for all,” de Blasio said. “And we see it working year after year.”
Under the previous law, the cameras were only permitted to operate on school days and during school hours. The new law allows the city to keep them in operation on all weekdays between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. including during school vacations.
The $62 million project will begin by prioritizing school zones with high crash rates and historically high speeds. Each month for the rest of the year, 40 cameras will be installed in school zones. In 2020, the number will increase to 60 per month.
The city expects every school zone to have at least one camera by June 2020, but many zones will eventually have two or three.
Motorist found to be going more than 10 miles per hour above the speed limit in a school zone will be hit with a $50 ticket.
The DOT did not provide a list of where the cameras will be installed.
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says she expects the speed camera program to pay for itself. From the existing 140 speed cameras alone, $44 million in revenue was brought in last year.
With the cameras to operate from 6 am to 10 pm on days with no school, it is clear the primary purpose is revenue – not safety.
James C. Walker, National Motorists Association