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De Blasio Joins Traffic Violence Victims to Call on Albany to Allow More NYC Speed Cameras

Mayor de Blasio rallying with safe streets advocates today at City Hall. Photo: David Meyer

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined advocates from Families for Safe Streets and other New Yorkers on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to call on Albany legislators to pass a bill to expand NYC's life-saving school speed camera program.

"There is a piece of  legislation that simply says: since speed cameras around schools have been working, and saving lives, children's lives, we should have them around more schools," the mayor said. "Isn't that the simplest thing you've heard in a long time?"

Speeding is the leading cause of fatal traffic crashes in NYC. Since the program began 2013, cameras have reduced speeding by 63 percent at locations where they are deployed. Yet 85 percent of traffic fatalities and severe injuries occur at locations and times that Albany has prohibited cameras to be used, according to a DOT report released today [PDF].

Reductions in traffic deaths in 2014 and 2015 coincided with the expansion of the speed camera program, but those gains leveled off when state lawmakers failed to authorize more cameras last year. This year's legislation, sponsored by José Peralta in the State Senate and Deborah Glick in the Assembly, would expand the number of speed cameras the city is allowed to deploy to 750, from the current cap of 150.

The bill would broaden the areas where cameras may be sited, and allow them to be operated every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Currently, the state only allows the city to activate speed cameras on school days during school hours, and limits placement to within a quarter-mile of a school entrance on the street that abuts the school.

Said de Blasio: "Each life we save, we have to think of that as our mother, father, brother, our sister, our son, our daughter, our neighbor. We have to make it personal because, in fact, it is those people we love whose lives are being saved. We need everybody in Albany to feel that. We need everyone in the legislature to understand they're holding people's lives in their hands."

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

In the Senate, the bill has the support of Jeff Klein, who leads the Independent Democratic Conference, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said today. It still needs the backing of Marty Golden, the city's senior Senate Republican, in order to pass.

"It's not fair that Albany of all places, where some of my colleagues live closer to Cincinnati than they do New York City are deciding our traffic rules," said Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents Manhattan. "This is something, and I'm sure Senator Peralta agrees, that we can reach across the aisle on."

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