UPDATED: Gov. Cuomo Announces Doubling of Speed Cameras

Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit
Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit

ALBANY — Governor Cuomo said he would reinstate the speed camera program in New York City — and double the number of cameras — in his budget to be released on Tuesday.

From the governor’s just-issued press release:

Speed cameras have proven to be effective at reducing car crashes and increasing survivability rates in school zones, but in 2018 the Republican-led Senate blocked passage of legislation that would allow the program to continue. In response, Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency to temporarily reinstate the program. The Governor’s new budget proposal would reinstate and expand the program through statute and expand the number of impacted school zones from 140 to 290.

“There is indisputable evidence that speed cameras save lives, and as public servants we must use every available tool to protect our children,” Cuomo said, blasting the then-GOP controlled State Senate for failing to re-authorize the speed cameras last year and allowing the cameras to go dark.

Cuomo then used his emergency powers to turn the speed cameras back on.

The number of speed cameras — 290 — is the same number that appeared in the bill that the Senate rejected last year. It is far lower than the number that activists originally sought.

The existing 140 school-zone camera systems have issued tickets to more than 4.5 million drivers since being fully deployed in 2014 — roughly 10 times the number written by all of the city’s NYPD officers. Statistics show that only 17 percent of drivers get a second speed-camera ticket, evidence that they are a substantial deterrent to speeding. Cuomo’s proposal would also include signs to alert motorists that cameras are in place, presumably another form of deterrent.

Mayor de Blasio backed the governor’s proposal.

“The mayor appreciates the governor’s commitment to expand speed cameras,” spokesman Seth Stein told Streetsblog. “When a speed camera is activated, it reduces speeding in that area by over 60 percent. The program is a vital Vision Zero tool, and a strong contributor to the city’s five straight years of declining traffic deaths.”

That said, the City Council passed a bill last year to give the city the right to deploy an unlimited number of cameras. It is unclear if Speaker Corey Johnson will object to Cuomo’s 290-school zone limit. We reached out and have not heard back.

Story was updated to include a City Hall comment.

  • jaxbot

    “There is indisputable evidence that speed cameras save lives” then why cap them at all?

  • Daphna

    Since “there is indisputable evidence that speed cameras sve lives” why have the speed cameras on only for limited hours? Let’s have speed cameras EVERYWHERE and on 24/7/365, not just during school hours on school days and during certain after school activity hours.

  • jcwconsult

    Speed cameras can issue high numbers of tickets ONLY when the posted limits are set artificially low, below the safe speeds of travel. Realistic limits get high compliance, unrealistic ones don’t.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Lyn Pearl

    Corrupt Scumbag is adding them everywhere so he can get his retirement fund boosted. What’s your cut, Culo?????

  • Andrew

    Speed cameras can issue high numbers of tickets ONLY when the posted limits are set artificially low, below the safe speeds of travel. Realistic limits get high compliance, unrealistic ones don’t.

    Speed cameras can issue high numbers of tickets ONLY when high numbers of drivers opt to drive well in excess of the speed limit.

    Laws don’t exist to tell people to do what they already do. We don’t determine tax rates by asking people how much they’d like to pay in taxes, and we don’t determine speed limits by asking motorists how fast they’d like to drive.

    It is not reasonable to drive faster than 25 mph on streets that carry pedestrians. If you choose to drive in my city, please do not drive faster than 25 mph on city streets. As an incentive to persuade you to take my advice, you may be fined if you choose to speed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • jcwconsult

    I have never had a speed or red light camera ticket. I am aware of the cities that want to pilfer my wallet for the crime of driving safely for the actual conditions and I make sure my wallet is not pilfered for profits.
    MANY cities have very safe main collector & arterial streets that are designed for and operate with 85th percentile speeds of 30 to 45 mph.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • fdtutf

    MANY cities have very safe main collector & arterial streets that are designed for and operate with 85th percentile speeds of 30 to 45 mph.

    That is only safe in combination with very low pedestrian volumes.

  • jcwconsult

    The volume of pedestrians is irrelevant. The engineering of the crosswalks, their signage, the effectiveness of their lighting, etc. are the critical items – along with the contributions pedestrians make to their own safety.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • fdtutf

    Because motorists are lawless, a condition you promote, pedestrians’ ability to protect themselves is limited and collisions between cars and pedestrians are inevitable when there are lots of pedestrians. Motorists’ speeds must therefore be limited in order to protect pedestrians, and speeds of 30 mph and higher are not safe for pedestrians.

  • jcwconsult

    I just respectfully disagree.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • GRY

    Because there is NOT indisputable evidence. Speed is NOT the cause of most accidents. People who work in public safety and traffic know this. Speed is easy to measure, so gets all the attention. Simple to measure and enforce, but not the panacea we think.

  • Sincerely

    Speed is a factor in every crash. Without at least one party traveling at a high speed, we’d call the interaction a “bump” or a “nudge.”

    While forcing car users to travel at appropriately low speeds wouldn’t completely eliminate traffic deaths, it would come pretty close. Which is part of why —and I write this as someone in transportation (I’m reluctant to say I “work in traffic”) — the evidence for speed camera enforcement saving lives is indisputable.

  • GRY

    Most crashes have as their root cause something other than speed. The NHTSA stats show that even in fatal crashes 74% did not have speed as a factor. (2017 DOT HS#812687).
    For non-fatal accidents the % is far lower (8%) There are 7 things more likely to cause an accident than speed.
    Speed is something that gets people excited. Simple to measure but not the real problem based on dozens of federal studies.

  • Sincerely

    Could you explain how two things collide without one or the other having any speed?

  • GRY

    You are correct; they would one or both have to have movement or speed.
    I was assuming the word speed, was referring to excess speed. My point is excess speed is only a factor in 1/4 of the fatal accidents, and less that 10% of all accidents.

  • Philip Neumann

    Speed is something that leads to death in a place like NYC. Most of America (i’m not sure if you’ve ever traveled beyond the 5 boros) does not look like Manhattan. It’s large swaths of wide roadways and 65mph posted speed limits. That’s fine on a freeway in California, where a pedestrian is a rare sight — but in the canyons of Fifth Avenue, with holiday shoppers and the like, there’s no reason to driving more than 20mph in a metal and glass missile.

  • Philip Neumann

    You’re the talking head who runs a “drivers’ rights” organization. You’re a lobbiest. I’m not taking your words as truth.

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Assembly Member Deborah Glick will introduce legislation to significantly expand New York City’s speed camera program. To get the bill enacted, street safety advocates will have to build support in the State Senate and ensure that Governor Cuomo signs it into law. At a press conference this morning, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White joined members […]