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.

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