Majority of NYC DAs Agree: All City Schools Should Have Speed Cameras

Cy Vance, Ken Thompson, and Richard Brown
Cy Vance, Ken Thompson, and Richard Brown

Three New York City district attorneys have endorsed Albany legislation that would allow New York City to install speed enforcement cameras outside every school.

Cy Vance, Ken Thompson, and Richard Brown, the top prosecutors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, respectively, sent separate letters to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Transportation Chair David Gantt, and Manhattan Assembly Member Deborah Glick in support of Assembly Bill 9861. Introduced by Glick, the bill would allow any school to have automated speed enforcement with no time of day restrictions. The bill would also make the program permanent.

Currently, NYC is limited to 140 speed cameras to cover the entire city, leaving streets used by over a million kids without enforcement to slow speeding drivers. Cameras can only be used during school hours, and the program would sunset in 2018. Tickets carry a $50 fine with no license or insurance points and are only issued to drivers who exceed the speed limit in school zones by 11 mph or more.

Speeding is down by 60 percent in areas covered by existing cameras, according to DOT. Extending camera coverage to all city schools could save 100 lives and prevent 2,700 crashes and 1,400 serious injuries annually, according to Transportation Alternatives.

“As Brooklyn’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to protecting pedestrians and holding drivers accountable for injuries caused by their reckless driving,” wrote Thompson. “The increased presence of speed cameras in our neighborhoods is a necessary tool in helping keep Brooklyn students and pedestrians safe.”

“My top priority as a prosecutor is public safety, and the effectiveness of school zone speed cameras in protecting New York City children and pedestrians is undeniable,” said Vance. “Speed cameras have proven to be an inexpensive way to slow down drivers and save lives.”

“Speeding is a leading cause of injury-related death for children in my county and throughout New York,” Brown wrote. “Getting drivers to slow down will reduce these injuries and deaths.”

All the letters are worth a read.

TA and Families for Safe Streets picked up a number of supporters when they went to Albany earlier this week — we’ll have updates in future posts — but there is still no companion bill in the State Senate. You can ask your state rep to support speed camera legislation via the #EverySchool web site.

  • Critical critic

    Speed cameras is one approach; physically reconfiguring streets to make it difficult to drive fast is another.

  • Alex

    Let’s do both

  • Jeff

    Are there any weird loopholes whereby I can have my apartment officially designated a “school”?

  • vnm

    It’s curious and somewhat concerning that the new Bronx D.A., Darcel Clark, is not on board.

  • ddartley

    They are a necessary stopgap until streets are reconfigured. (Actually that’s how I feel about punitive enforcement in general.)

  • Jules1

    Very much agreed, but speed cameras can be done much quicker. (Good traffic calming takes a lot of site-specific planning, engineering, and community outreach, a traffic camera is straight forward technology that takes less than a day to install)

  • Reconfiguring streets is expensive. Cameras pay for themselves and have proven effectiveness. I won’t hold my breath waiting for a city with 60,000 lane miles of roadway and over 12,500 signalized intersections to reconfigure everything.

  • Just as it’s little surprise that Staten Island DA Michael McMahon isn’t on board either.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Thanks to past public employee pension increases, leading to soaring public employee pension costs, and ongoing decreases in compensation for private sector workers — starting with those on the bottom and now even reaching those at the top, we can’t afford them any more.

    We can’t afford to have public employees do anything that can be done by someone, or something else. Particularly police, fire, teachers, and others with 25/55 deals.

    They can saw they are worth more and since we are worth less and can’t pay more, we don’t deserve as many of them. We can say we are ripped off. The math is the same in either case, so skip the argument.

    The lack of automated enforcement is graft in the place with the highest state and local tax burden in the country, and 2.8 times as many police officers per 100,000 residents as the U.S. average.

  • Hilda

    One of the goals of this legislation is to change driving culture; to remind drivers that when they see the SCHOOL marked on the street, or see a School Xing sign, they automatically slow done. Just like they are supposed to. My kids school is on a narrow street, with speed bumps, crossing guards, and is within a neighborhood slow zone. Drivers still speed. Personally I would love for the fines to increase in severity if there are numerous tickets received, but this legislation is a very good start. Kudos to all the volunteers, advocates and members of Families for Safe Streets!

  • Vooch

    installing a few bollards to block motor vehicles from driving in front of a school is quick and cheap. ( and more effective at eliminating traffuc violence ) the red light cameras are okay but not perfect

  • Vooch

    bollards get installed in a day – it’s not a big deal to block motor traffic in front of every school during school days . not a lot of science here

  • Brad Aaron

    I love bollards, but rerouting traffic around 1,700 schools every weekday and undoing it every evening for 10 months a year would be an extremely big deal.

    It would do nothing to slow drivers during off-hours, and would not stop drivers from speeding through neighborhood streets where they would be re-routed, and also where kids walk on the way to and from school.

    Not to mention the halo effect created by the cameras would be nullified. The idea is to get it in drivers’ heads that speeding won’t be tolerated.

  • Vooch


    agreed, then sinply open up streets permanently to humans in front of schools – exactly like in front of Baruch at 25th and Columbia at 116th. The Baruch solution is a true winner and trivial to implement.

    start implementation with primary schools and work up to High Schools. maybe we can a few stickball games going …

    streets are for people

    BTW – pedestrians & bikes are also traffic 🙂

  • neroden

    Vance and Brown have a record of letting killer drivers go free without so much as a ticket, so this seems like lip service to me.


Get Ready for Next Week’s Speed Cam Rally With This Streetfilms Comic

The campaign to get Albany to allow speed cameras outside every school in NYC is gaining steam. Assembly Member Deborah Glick’s bill now has companion legislation in the Senate, introduced by Jose Peralta. The bill would allow any school to have automated speed enforcement without the current time of day restrictions, and would remove Albany’s 2018 sunset provision, making the city’s […]