Data Show NYC Speed Cameras Deter Speeding and Reduce Injuries

Speeding drops dramatically when cameras are activated, a DOT report says, and drivers who get a camera ticket don't usually get a second one.

Eight-five percent of crashes resulting in injuries or deaths occurred in areas where speed cameras are not permitted. Image: DOT
Eight-five percent of crashes resulting in injuries or deaths occurred in areas where speed cameras are not permitted. Image: DOT

Automated speed cameras reduced speeding by 63 percent and pedestrian injuries by 23 percent at locations where NYC has used them, according to a report released by the city last week [PDF]. The data bolster the case for expanding the program, which the city could do if lawmakers pass twin bills now pending in Albany.

Bills sponsored by State Senator José Peralta and Assembly Member Deborah Glick would increase the number of allowed cameras to 750 and loosen restrictions on when and where they can be used.

Because state law limits NYC to 140 cameras, deployed near schools and activated only during school hours, 85 percent of traffic fatalities and severe injuries occur at times or locations that cameras aren’t permitted.

The report, released last Friday, notes that NYC levies less severe penalties for camera violations — a $50 fine with no license points — than result from citations issued by police officers for the same offense. Still, the report says, once a driver gets one ticket, he or she is unlikely to speed in a camera zone. Only 19 percent of camera tickets go to repeat violators — meaning speeding drops over time where cameras are present:

Image: DOT
Image: DOT

Speeding is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in the city, according to DOT. Data show that drivers are far more likely to speed when cameras are turned off:

Image: DOT
Image: DOT

Legislation to expand NYC’s speed camera program was written in collaboration with the de Blasio administration. Reductions in traffic deaths in 2014 and 2015 coincided with the introduction of more cameras, but those gains leveled off when state lawmakers failed to authorize a program expansion last year.

  • BubbaJoe123

    I’m 100% in favor of more speed cameras, and have no doubt whatsoever that they’re effective. That said, I’d be a touch cautious about interpreting the speeding by time of day chart above to mean that it’s just speed cameras that are bringing speeds down – on a practical basis, it’s a lot HARDER to speed in NYC at 8AM on a Wednesday than 4AM on a Saturday, given traffic.

  • Samantha Davies

    Good point. Which begs the question: why are speed cameras limited to only school hours when the danger is low?

  • Andrew

    Because our lovely state legislature did all it could to minimize the utility of speed cameras.

  • Note: it raises the question. “Begging the question” is a different thing entirely.

    http://begthequestion.info

  • BubbaJoe123

    Because even the ahole politicians who oppose speed cameras didn’t have enough clout to block that very limited deployment.

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Right now, Albany limits NYC to 140 speed enforcement cameras for all 6,000 miles of surface streets in the city. A broad spectrum of New York City voters approve of expanding the program. The question is whether Albany Democrats Andrew Cuomo, Jeff Klein, and Carl Heastie will take action to save lives.