Demand for Speed Cameras

RIGHT OF WAY CONDEMNS OMISSION OF SPEED CAMERAS FROM STATE BUDGET; DEMANDS 1,000 CAMERAS IN NEXT LEGISLATIVE SESSION

March 31, 2014

Media Advisory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Keegan Stephan, 907.244.6426, Keegan@rightofway.org

Charles Komanoff, 212 260 5237, kea@igc.org

New York, NY: The safe-streets group Right of Way today condemned the omission of promised speed cameras from the state budget announced on Saturday and demanded immediate legislative action to multiply the number of speed cameras on New York City streets.

The budget was finalized in budget reconciliations by the governor, the senate majority leader and the speaker of the assembly. The senate’s budget included 285 new cameras. The governor’s budget included 125 new cameras. The assembly’s budget included zero. Earlier this month, legislative leaders promised grieving parents organized by Families for Safe Streets that the new state budget would at least double the number of speed cameras in New York City. Instead, we got zero.

The de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero Action Plan reports that “In Washington D.C., at intersections where speed cameras are in use, the number of crashes and injuries has gone down by 20%.” Based on population, for the same coverage and reduction of crashes as the D.C. model, New York needs 1,000 speed cameras.

“While our politicians dicker, New Yorkers are needlessly dying on our streets,” said Amy Cohen, founding member of Families for Safe Streets and whose son Sammy was killed by a speeding driver on Prospect Park West. “The safety of our children, and of all New Yorkers, cannot be subject to political horse trading.”

Since the original release of this statement, Speaker Silver introduced a bill allocating 140 speed cameras to New York City school zones, to be operated exclusively during school hours, as mandated by current regulations. This is essentially the amount they promised to include in the budget. Now instead of being guaranteed, it must go through the wrangling process of the legislative session, and it is still not enough.

Right of Way is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to propose an alternate bill expanding the speed camera program to the needed 1,000 cameras and allowing them to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We expect Speaker Sheldon Silver to champion this bill in the State legislature, and for the Senate and Governor to sign on and pass it in this legislative session. As Amy Cohen notes, “The vast majority of crashes occur in the evenings and on weekends.”

Speeding is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in New York City and speed cameras are a proven deterrent to dangerous driving.

New York City’s speed camera program started up in January, with fewer than 20 cameras. In the two months since, the cameras have issued 11,715 tickets despite operating only in school zones, during school hours, to vehicles driven at least 10 mph over the posted limit.

After the death of his 9-year-old nephew Cooper Stock, who was mowed down in an Upper West Side crosswalk in January, NYU Medical School professor Barron Lerner pleaded, “We beg you: Please do not let politics, bureaucracy and interest group squabbling prevent meaningful reform.” These words fell on deaf ears in the budget negotiation. They must not fall on deaf ears this legislative session.

“We intend to shine a harsh spotlight on so-called legislative leaders who stand in the way of life-saving speed cameras,” said Charles Komanoff, an organizer with Right of Way.

“Failure to expand the speed camera program will result in dozens of preventable deaths,” said Keegan Stephan, another organizer with Right of Way. “If any politicians stand in the way of that expansion, we will make them well aware of the lives they have cost,” he said.

Right Of Way uses direct action, forensic statistical analysis and other means to highlight traffic crimes and demand street justice. Last fall and winter the group created street memorials to children and elders killed by drivers, facilitated ten different neighborhoods to install look-alike 20 mph signs, and painted a bike lane in midtown Manhattan where a British tourist was maimed by a road-raging taxi driver.

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“[T]oday in New York, approximately 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and more than 250 are killed each year in traffic crashes. Being struck by a vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14, and the second leading cause for seniors. On average, vehicles seriously injure or kill a New Yorker every 2 hours.” (NYC Vision Zero Action Plan, p. 7) “No level of fatality on City streets is inevitable or acceptable.” (Ibid., p. 6)