Will Shelly Silver and Albany Finally Save Lives With a Speed Cam Bill?

After efforts to enable speed cameras in New York City stalled in Albany the past few years, a new speed cam bill in the Assembly now has more than 30 sponsors, and introduction of a State Senate bill is expected soon.

Automated speeding enforcement could help prevent crashes like the one that killed the Glauber family. Photo: Shimon Gifter via ##http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2013/03/04/expectant-parents-die-crash-infant-survives/d7u4OY7mDni3dCqxUXnSrJ/story.html##AP##

The death of Raizel and Nachman Glauber in Williamsburg this week has also brought new attention to the need for stepped-up speeding enforcement. In an opinion piece published in the Daily News today, Paul White of Transportation Alternatives and Veronica Vanterpool of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign point out that the driver who killed the Glaubers was speeding at twice the legal limit.

The bill would enable “a demonstration speed camera program” in New York City. The program would have strict limits, allowing no more than 20 cameras in operation at any given time, with a cap of 40 cameras deployed citywide. Fines would not exceed $50 for driving 10-30 mph over the speed limit, and not more than $100 for speeding more than 30 mph over the limit.

Momentum in Albany appears to be building. This week, Assembly Members Micah Kellner of Manhattan and Carmen Arroyo of the Bronx signed on to the Assembly bill.

Juan Martinez, legislative director for Transportation Alternatives, is confident that support will continue to grow among the 65 Assembly members representing New York City. “I can count the number of members of the New York City delegation who said they would vote ‘no’ on one hand,” he said, “and still have fingers left over.”

A companion bill in the Senate is expected soon from State Senator Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, who sponsored speed cam legislation last year. There is also a possibility that speed cameras could be included in the budget, an alternative route to enacting a stand-alone bill.

TA is asking supporters to contact public officials, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, urging them to sign on to speed cameras.

  • Anonymous

    Fines would not exceed $50 for driving 10–30 mph over the speed limit,
    and not more than $100 for speeding more than 30 mph over the limit.

    Every time I read that, I think, “This is what we’re fighting so hard for? The chance to give someone a $50 ticket for driving 59 mph down my residential street?”

    Don’t get me wrong. I support it—obviously. But it’s just depressing how meager the fines are for such dangerous behaviors.

  • Ian Turner

    @dporpentine:disqus : The fines are significantly higher when written by police officers, camera-issued tickets often have lower fines to weaken the case that they are primarily for raising revenue.

  • Stan Ford

    I live in British Columbia and the speeding fines  at $138 to $196 and for excessive speed $368 to $468. Speed kills.

  • Daniel Winks

    @dporpentine:disqus I agree.  Speeding tickets should be 1% of your previous year’s gross income, with a minimum of say, $100 per mph over the limit.  So doing 12 over the limit as someone who made $100,000 the previous year, that’s a $12,000 ticket.  Do 59 in a 30 and make $250,000 the previous year and you’d be looking at a $72,500 fine.  Obviously a payment plan might be useful.  Maybe 3 easy payments of $24,167…

    It’s really simple.  Don’t want to pay for extremely expensive tickets, make sure you’re going well under the limit.  I haven’t gone over the maximum speed in years, it’s really not hard to never speed.  Do 25 in a 30, 55 in a 65, 20 in a 25…

    Supposedly the reasoning behind requiring millions of dollars to reconfigure roads to lower speeds, rather than just put in signs, is because people drive at the speed they view as safe, rather than under the maximum.  Most/all of the reason for this is the pathetic speeding ticket fines.  If speeding tickets were a percentage of income, this would be easily avoided.

  • Nanda_73

    A newbie here trying to understand why this measure did not have support earlier. And why restrict to 20 cameras at a time. Should we not think about installing as many as possible in strategic locations.

  • Joe R.

    @google-7c450ca704a2c467898c249b613ca8d7:disqus I think the fines you suggest are disproportionate to the crime UNLESS a crash actually occurred, and speed was a factor causing the crash. This isn’t to say people in this city don’t drive too fast for the environment. They do, and it’s largely because the overly wide roads encourage it. In the end fines will never do enough to seriously make a dent in speeding because only a small percentage of drivers will be caught. That’s not even getting to the problem of how do you catch speeders on streets full of vulnerable users without putting bystanders in danger. You may be against the idea of reconfiguring roads but making speeding inherently impossible is really the only thing which reliably works. Narrowing lanes, putting in chicanes, installing bollards between lanes at intersections, installing roundabouts, etc, all make it difficult to speed because they increase the odds of crashing into an immovable object if you drive too fast.

    If a person drives at speeds which are totally over the top (i.e. 80 mph in a 30 mph zone), a more sensible solution is to just revoke their license for good rather than levy a large fine. I’ll also add that all of the countries which do have speeding fines as a percentage of income also have more sensible speed limits than the US (i.e. 130 to 160 km/hr on limited access highways). The idea behind a speed limit is if you’re going much over the limit then you really are going dangerously fast. Here in the US, thanks to legislated speed limits which have no bearing on how fast it’s safe to drive on a road, people don’t take speed limits seriously because they safely break them all the time. It’s the proverbial boy who cried wolf, and this attitude has unfortunately percolated down to casual treatment of all traffic laws, not just speeding laws, with the resulting carnage we see daily. Speeding enforcement is only meaningful from a safety perspective when limits are set appropriately in the first place. More importantly, when speed limits are meaningful, and therefore no longer seen solely as a revenue grab by motorists, this attitude would hopefully filter down to other traffic laws. There’s a large body of evidence which suggests general disregard for traffic laws first started when we legislated the 55 mph national limit in the 1970s. People safely went way over 55 mph because they were on roads designed for 80 mph to 100 mph. And they figured because speed limits can be violated with endangering life and limb, then perhaps a lot of other traffic laws were similarly overkill, and could be broken whenever the mood stuck them. Ever since then, we’ve been fighting an uphill battle where respect for traffic laws in general has declined.

  • Joe R.

    @707bfec5929d3081102521b1cf3871f9:disqus “A newbie here trying to understand why this measure did not have support earlier.”

    Two reasons:

    1) The AAA.
    2) Many of those in the ruling class either drive cars, or are driven around in them, and like the option to speed whenever the mood strikes them.

    I agree there should a lot more than 20 cameras, but 20 is better than none, especially if they routinely rotate locations. I also personally think the higher fine should kick in at maybe 20 mph over the speed limit. 50 mph or over is where speeds start to become too unsafe for the conditions, even on the wide arterials we have. Also note that the speed cameras still give considerable leeway by not fining you until you’re at least 10 mph over the limit. I’m not sure if legally they could fine people for going 1 mph over the limit due to all the error sources, but certainly a 9 mph cushion over the limit is more than enough to not catch any reasonable drivers. Catching the sociopaths who drive at highway speeds on local streets will do far more to enhance safety than going after someone doing 33 mph.

  • Miles Bader

    Hmm, could they also use these to catch those mega-oversize trucks illegally driving in area they shouldn’t be?  Of course the fines should be much, much, much larger…

  • No Speed Cameras

    So a speed camera is going to stop a drunk driver or an ex-con who spent years in prison for murder?

    Silver knows how to exploit a tragedy to pick the taxpayers pockets.

    Silver will be silent on tougher punishments for the criminals that go 60 in a 30 zone and kill 2 people. That part he could not care less about, but $, yes indeed that bill goes to the top of the list.

  • Ian Turner

    @aec617c1f53f5c6a49f6292cfbefbf5c:disqus : Keep in mind that the fine for camera tickets is significantly lower (like 4X lower) than a regular speeding ticket. These cameras could actually end up reducing fine revenue, by reducing speeding altogether. That seems to be happening with red light cameras:
    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/09/18/report-revenue-from-nyc-red-light-cameras-down/

  • Joe R.

    I have a sneaking suspicion in order to maximize revenue most of the cameras will end up being placed on expressways instead of local streets. This will obviously do zip for safety but it will net the city lots of fines. Virtually every vehicle on expressways is well above 10 mph over the limit unless there’s congestion.

  • Guest

    I don’t understant the different penalties under the speed cam bill. Does that mean if I rape and murder a woman and it’s only caught on a speed cam, I can only get 2-4 years? 

    What about if I was a terrorist and I exploded a subway tunnel while several trains were going through, and someone recorded it on a cell phone camera, I guess that get’s downgraded to Distrubing The Peace?

  • Vintage Autocraft

    Where do politicians get the idea that speed cams reduce accidents, or that speed even causes accidents? Except in cases of hydroplaning or cornering, speed never causes the accident, it only increases the likelihood of injuries when one occurs. If speed caused the accidents, than the porsche driving 140 on the German autobahn would wreck every time.

    Let’s use some logic. Accidents are caused by aggression, driver error, distractions, weather and road conditions. If police departments where acting in the interest of safety, the majority of tickets would be for riding in the passing lane, texting, following to close and aggressive driving, not speed. Speeding cameras mailing me a ticket for 10-15mph over are simply for revenue, not safety. I would be much more comfortable with no speed limits at all, but rather, do as the autobahn and have severe penalties for recklessness.

  • Anonymous

    A general question: why is the troll count going up so high lately? I mean, in the last few days we’ve had someone arguing that his statistical fantasies about Brooklyn are more accurate than the those of the US Census. And now someone who can’t tell the difference between an autobahn and a city street. 

    Using Germany–Germany!–as an argument for a kill first, fine later policy is just laughable. A little hint of the reality:http://www.toytowngermany.com/lofi/index.php/t9483.html

  • Guest

    Let’s use some logic. If “accidents are caused by aggression, driver error, distractions, weather and road conditions,” then you’d want drivers traveling at very low rates of speed.

    And my quiet residential street in Brooklyn is not at all like the Autobahn. 

  • Joe R.

    @dporpentine:disqus “And now someone who can’t tell the difference between an autobahn and a city street.”

    From my admittedly anecdotal observations I think this statement could be applied to the majority of city drivers.

    @273191addddaeae5dca7c6d6f384ad8b:disqus To some extent I agree with you that speed rarely is the primary cause of accidents, and that no speed limits (except when dictated by curvature) are a good idea, but in both cases ONLY ON LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAYS. Remember Germany has autobahns and it also has local streets where drivers often go no more than 30 km/hr. There’s a time and a place for everything. High speeds have no place in areas where you have pedestrians or cyclists. The problem with high speeds in such areas is that these vulnerable users are often unpredictable. If a child suddenly darts into the street, you can probably stop if you’re going only 20 mph, but lots of luck if you’re going 50 mph. That’s why NYC is getting these speed cams. I’d much rather we had more road diets, but at least the cameras may drive home the idea that if you want to go fast, then take the highway.

  • Michael Klatsky

    Um…because the world is inhabited by humans?

    You know, those humans that that rules are great, but intended for others. Those humans that if given a unlimited speed limit would understand that as “authorization” from the authorities to drive as fast as possible.

    You know this already, since you live in the world.

    And Mr. Drporopamine, my data is vehicle registrations from the DMV. If you use the U.S. Census estimates over a hard number, you clearly have an agenda to prove. I don’t like car culture, but I’m no idiot who thinks that people in Brooklyn don’t love their cars or would love to have one if they can’t afford it.

  • Andrew

    By your own admission, “there is no way to account for multiple car households” using DMV data. That’s why the rest of us have moved on to a different data source that accounts for multiple car households. Based on DMV data, it’s impossible to answer how many households have no car, and assuming that no households have multiple cars is absurd.

    And if you have difficulty spelling posters’ names, you might want to try cut-and-paste.

  • It may be easy to use copy/paste on your android phone, but not mine.

  • Ian Turner

    @dporpentine:disqus : I don’t think these people are trolls; or if they are, they are very subtle ones.

  • Anonymous

    @7c177865bd107a919938355fe93de93a:disqus Point taken.
    @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus Sadly, you’re right.

  • KeyyMacauu

    This idiots was driving drunk …. those laws didn’t stop him

    He was already convicted , sentenced and did time for manslaughter and was let out of prison … maybe the Do-gooders  who allow these vermin to get out of jail should be proud of themselves

  • Joe R.

    @keyymacauu:disqus A large part of the problem is our laws against driving with a suspended or revoked license have no teeth. Police rarely stop anyone just to see if they have a valid license. And if they don’t, the penalties are either fines or a small amount of jail time. We should be able to seize and auction off the vehicle of anyone caught driving without a valid license (or anyone caught driving drunk or drugged). Most people couldn’t afford to buy another vehicle, so this keeps them off the road. There’s also the added penalty of still having to make payments of a car you don’t even own any more. The state would raise a considerable sum auctioning off all the seized cars. They could also selectively destroy the biggest ones with the worst fuel economy. Jail isn’t necessarily the best answer here. Yes, it keeps these people off the road, but most of the people guilty of vehicular homicide don’t present a danger to society unless they’re driving. At least by revoking their driving privileges for good, they can still remain a productive member of society.

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