How Much Research Does Marty Golden Need to Say Yes to Speed Cameras?

State Senator Marty Golden, a former police officer and prominent Brooklyn Republican, has joined forces with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and AAA New York to oppose speed cameras. Now that Golden has succeeded in keeping them out of the state budget, he says he might be open to the idea, after all.

Sen. Marty Golden says speed cams must be "proven" to reduce speeds and injuries for the bill to pass. Luckily for him, there's some research on that. Photo: ##http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/martin-j-golden##NY Senate##

“If the technology is proven, if speeding is reduced and fatalities are reduced, that would be a strong reason this bill should get done,” he told the Post.

It’s unclear what Golden means by “proven,” notes Dana Rubinstein in Capital New York. Maybe a 2012 peer-reviewed meta-analysis conducted by a non-profit health research organization would be enough to convince the senator from Bay Ridge. Rubinstein explains:

After reviewing 35 studies “to assess whether the use of speed cameras reduces the incidence of speeding, road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths,” the researchers concluded that “speed cameras are a worthwhile intervention for reducing the number of road traffic injuries and deaths.”

More precisely, of the 28 studies that investigated speed cameras’ effect on crashes, “all 28 studies found a lower number of crashes in the speed camera areas after implementation of the program.”

An analysis of the speed camera program in Montgomery County, Maryland, by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that speed cams had a “halo effect,” convincing drivers to ease off the gas everywhere, not just where the cameras were installed:

Relative to comparison sites in Virginia, the proportion of drivers traveling more than 10 mph above posted speed limits declined by about 70 percent at Montgomery County locations with both warning signs and speed camera enforcement, 39 percent at locations with warning signs but no speed cameras, and 16 percent on residential streets with neither warning signs nor speed cameras.

Streetsblog has asked Sen. Golden’s office what it would take for this life-saving technology to be sufficiently “proven.” We’ll let you know if we get a reply. Previous requests for comment on speed cameras have not been returned.

Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein told Gotham Gazette that, despite not being included in the budget, speed cams will come back for debate. “This is an issue that will come up later in the year,” he said.

  • Eric McClure

    “‘This is an issue that will come up later in the year,’ he said.” Yes, we need to let a few more people die first before we can get around to contemplating a speed-camera bill.

  • Opponents of things like speed cameras always say that they want further study. It allows them to lay the appearance of reason over an unreasonable position. Because, you know, who could be against something as reasonable as “proof”?

  • Joe R.

    Yes, they need studies to find a way for the cameras to grant professional courtesy.

  • Larry Littlefield

    While they are debating the speed camera bill, how about cameras on street sweepers for alternate side? And then how about allowing the Brownies to issue certain kinds of moving violations and do traffic control?

    Remember, NYC has 2 1/2 times the U.S. average number of police officers relative to population. And still, they claim they are short of manpower for different things.

  • Anonymous

    “Streetsblog has asked Sen. Golden’s office what it would take for this life-saving technology to be sufficiently ‘proven.’ ”
    Sadly, he might not be convinced unless someone close to him is hit by a speeder. I would not wish that on someone, but it seems if all the available evidence is not convincing, only a tragedy will wake him up.

  • Anonymous

    The PBA is against this. Golden is an ex-cop who sides with cops. Speed cameras can’t protect speeding and drunk-driving cops the way cops can. If that seems too evil or simple for you, it’s a resources thing. The PBA worries that if cops aren’t out enforcing speed laws (which we know they don’t do anyway).

  • Larry Littlefield

    Which cops are being protected? No one dreams of becoming a police officer so they can give out tickets. They want to protect the public from criminals. It is the least desirable duty a police officer could have.

    Having more police means more union revenues, because union dues are regressive (a higher percent of the wages of lower paid cops). That’s why the union wants more cops, but was happy with a $25 K per year starting pay, which was unjust and a recruiting disaster.

  • Joe B

    The fix is in on this issue, apparently. The NYPD does very little to enforce speeding laws, so drivers speed and sometimes kill as a result. Speed cameras could help change that. State legislators who don’t care about this issue don’t spend time walking around the city. They’re too busy speeding in their taxpayer-subsidized cars.

  • JohnnyAngel

    The cops are against speed cameras because they will automatically document the cops’ constant, flagrant violations of traffic law. I’m surprised that I haven’t seen anyone else point this out.

  • JohnnyAngel

    And now I see below that several other commenter have mentioned the professional courtesy cops enjoy when driving their personal vehicles. Here I’m talking about the routine traffic violations of cops at the wheel of police vehicles.

  • > Police Benevolent Association

    Maybe things have changed, but it was always “Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association” to me growing up. May not seem like a big deal, but I do prefer the distinction, myself.

  • Anonymous

    @billygray:disqus Thanks for the correction. The post has been updated.

  • Joe R.

    Someone else said it first, but it bears repeating:

    PBA = Petroleum Benefits Association

  • haha!

  • Anonymous

    You make valid points about recruitment and pay, but what does that have to do with this? Look at the recent numbers on cops in serious car accidents and DWIs. The PBA knows that with speed cameras, their membership won’t be able to get a “professional courtesy” pass any more. They’re damn scared about it as they should be. This requires an attitude adjustment and tough love on the police that their own people have been unwilling to make.

    I know being a cop is tough and thankless, but they’re supposed to be professionals. When you’re drunk, sloppy and violent off duty and do stupid things, you shouldn’t carry a badge. If I sound like Jack Webb, so be it.

  • vnm

    The PBA argument, which is what is behind this whole thing, is puzzling. I don’t think there’s anyone here who would say that the duties of police officers to fight speeding should be in any way reduced. The amount of speeding on our streets is so ubiquitous that it utterly dwarfs the ability of human beings alone to put a dent in it. We need all the officers we can to fight it AS WELL AS speed cameras. If anything, there should be more officers hired to better fight speeding.

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