Wednesday: City Council Hearing on How to Hold Dangerous Drivers Accountable in the Absence of Speed Cameras

With speed cameras no longer issuing tickets, it’s unclear what will become of legislation to take cars away from habitual speeders.

Video still: NY1
Video still: NY1

With the shutdown of NYC’s speed cameras in its third week, on Wednesday the City Council transportation committee will discuss ways the city can rein in dangerous drivers.

The cameras have been unable to ticket motorists since Albany Senate Republicans allowed the program to expire on July 25, but cameras can still be used to collect data on speeding drivers.

The Reckless Driver Accountability Act was drafted to expand the cameras’ reach. Intro. 971 would allow the city to boot or impound vehicles attached to five or more speeding or red light camera violations within a one-year period. Drivers would be able to get their cars back after completing a traffic safety course.

Ninety-nine percent of drivers receive fewer than five camera summonses in a year. That 1 percent accounts for approximately 26,000 cars, according to bill sponsor Brad Lander. Since camera violations don’t add license points, the state DMV is unable to take action to get those drivers off the road.

It’s unclear what will become of the bill since the cameras are no longer issuing tickets. “The upcoming emergency hearing on Wednesday on the speed camera shutdown will provide an opportunity to explore what the City can and should do to hold these drivers accountable, with and/or without the program renewal,” Lander’s office told Streetsblog via email.

A second bill on Wednesday’s agenda, Intro. 972, would require the city to study dangerous driving behaviors and produce annual recommendations for reducing such behaviors.

Lander’s legislation stems from the crash that killed Abigail Blumenstein and Joshua Lew and injured their mothers and another pedestrian in Park Slope. Driver Dorothy Bruns’ car had been tagged eight times for red light and speed camera violations, but with no commensurate license points, authorities said Bruns had a “clean” driving record.

The committee will also take up a bill from chair Ydanis Rodriguez requiring DOT to create a set checklist of “street design elements that enhance safety” to be reviewed and adhered to when the agency redesigns major streets. Two bills related to school speeding  — one endorsing the renewal and expansion of speed cameras and another requiring DOT to install radar speed displays in school zones — are also on the agenda.

Wednesday’s hearing starts at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

  • Daphna

    Maybe the City Council could demand the return of some of the autonomy that they gave up to NY State in the 1970ss when the city needed financial assistance from the state. Ever since, the city gives financial assistance to the state and only receives back about .75 of every dollar in taxes paid while upstate residents get about $1.35 back in services for every dollar of taxes they pay because NYC resident tax money is re-distributed to towns with poorly functioning economies. Can’t NYC petition for more autonomy based on being a donor to the state? It stands to reason because when NYC was asking for aid they gave up autonomy; now that NYC give the financial aid to the rest of the state, and has for years, and will for years, NYC needs to stand up for itself. The rest of the state benefits from taxes collected in NYC and redistributed elsewhere; the city should have what it needs to thrive – such as safe streets – such as the tools needed to keep street users safe – such as speed cameras!

  • redbike

    No matter how many times you bring this up, the answer remains the same: this boat sailed last November, when the ConCon was on the ballot. Raising this issue in the context of NY’s City Council is like strolling into a vegan restaurant — and ordering a corned beef on rye. The ConCon is next scheduled to be on the ballot — in November 2037.

  • djx

    Without cameras, maybe the city could set up some kind of team to try to enforce street safety. Maybe call it the street safety squad or something. Maybe they could be empowered to stop all kinds of bad activity – or “violations” or “crimes” or “misdemeanors” we might call them.

    Give this force distinctive uniforms – maybe all green or blue or something. Badges to identify people and special pads of paper or tablets so they can give people “tickets” or something.

    Just an idea. Of course, it might be hard to set up such a force to protect us. Has this ever been done anywhere?

  • joyauto

    Another sham meeting to make people feel good. The city doesn’t even hold accountable drivers who kill pedestrians, so why would they need to hold speeders accountable.? They’re probably trying to find ways to make up the money they’re losing from the cameras. Those cameras created a major windfall.

  • RonMGA

    Hmmmm, a Safety Squad “empowered to stop all kinds of bad activity.” “…to protect us.”
    I believe it actually has been done before, and with the distinctive uniforms and badges too, all to protect the people of course. What better reason…
    Oddly enough they used the same letters,”SS.”
    Were you one of the 20 at Charlottesville this weekend?

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