Hochul Signs Speed Camera Bill, Citing Streetsblog’s Coverage of Unsafe School Streets

Gov. Hochul signed the speed camera expansion earlier this summer as Mayor Adams, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assembly Member Deborah Glick and members of Families for Safe Streets looked on. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Gov. Hochul signed the speed camera expansion earlier this summer as Mayor Adams, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assembly Member Deborah Glick and members of Families for Safe Streets looked on. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

They’re on!

The city’s school zone speed cameras will no longer stop issuing tickets at 10 p.m. but will stay on the job 24-7-365, thanks to Gov. Hochul affixing her signature on the legislature’s bill re-authorizing and expanding the automated enforcement. The cameras will be configured for 24-hour coverage this summer, the Department of Transportation said.

Jesse Coburn's investigation on school streets.
Jesse Coburn’s investigation on school streets.

Citing statistics straight out of a recent Streetblog investigation (right), Hochul said the all-day every day program was necessary because of the dangers kids face now, when the cameras are already in effect 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but also at night.

“We’ve had students actually killed walking to school because they weren’t protected — 24 in the last decade,” Hochul said. “We have statistics that show that during the 8 a.m. hour, when a lot of you are coming to school … there’s 57 percent more crashes and 25 percent more injuries in streets near schools. So you can’t ignore the statistics. Something bad is happening out there. So then we say what do we do? Kids should risk getting hurt just going to school.

“And traffic violence isn’t just confined to school hours,” she added. “Maybe there’s a playground around the schools and kids want to play. At night, it’s hard to see. And people are driving more aggressively — all of this has gotten worse since Covid.”

Mayor Adams, also on hand for the bill signing, said he believes New York City’s now 365-day automated enforcement program can be “a national model.”

“Some people say that the program is punitive,” he said. “It’s not punitive because if you get the ticket [most people] don’t get another. And 72 percent of fatalities have been happening when the cameras were off.”

Sen. Andrew Gounardes got his pen from Hochul. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Sen. Andrew Gounardes got his pen from Hochul. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The bill’s Assembly sponsor, Deborah Glick, alluded to the fact that the bill that got Hochul’s signature was wrenchingly watered down from the original proposal that would have required escalating fines for repeat offenders above the current $50 ticket, would have alerted insurance companies when their customers have been caught repeatedly by speed cameras, would have suspended the registrations on cars that are slapped with six camera-issued tickets within two years, and would have eliminated the provision in current law that prevents camera-issued speeding violations from becoming a part of a driver’s record or used for insurance purposes.

Those provisions were deleted as the legislature negotiated with the City Council, many of whose members indeed found those provisions punitive (and many Council members have personal experience with speed camera violations).

“When you see insufficiency you don’t just throw up your hands,” Glick said. “You work to fix the insufficiency.” She and Senate sponsor Andrew Gounardes vowed to press on to make the speed camera program even more effective in reining in reckless drivers. Currently, those drivers need only to pay the $50 tickets to avoid getting their cars or licenses taken away. In the case of drivers who get more than 15 speed-camera tickets in any 12-month period, there is also a required safe-driving course.

In a post-ceremony gaggle with reporters, Hochul confirmed that she supported the stripped provisions, but needs the legislature to pass them for her signature.

This bill was hard fought for — they accomplished major progress. And I’m proud to sign this today. I certainly support the other initiatives you’re speaking about. But I’ll take what the legislature puts on my my desk and I’ll sign it.”

Gounardes recalled how he got his start in politics, rallying in 2013 over the objections of then Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge) for a pilot program of just 20 cameras operating from 7 a.m to 4 p.m. Now there are close to 2,000 cameras operating in 750 school zones in the city.

“And tonight, at 10:01 p.m., they stay on for good,” he said. (Update: Gounardes misspoke; the DOT needs a little time to ensure that the public is aware of the change, an agency official told Streetsblog.)

Gounardes’s other key piece of safety legislation — which would have allowed New York City to greatly expand its red light camera system beyond just 150 intersections — was not passed by his colleagues, one of many legislative disappointments in Albany.

Hochul signed the bill on Friday at the Clinton School in Greenwich Village — and Hochul praised its principal, Jonathan Levin, for creating a bike room. Here’s a picture of it:

Even on a day when few students were present, the bike room is well used. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Even on a day when few students were present, the bike room is well used. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

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