Mobile Speed Cam

Mike Smeltz/WCBS 880

School Zone Speed Cameras Shut Off With No Senate Vote

July 25, 2018 - 9:19 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Over 100 speed cameras around New York City’s public schools were turned off late Wednesday afternoon.

The state Senate has failed to return to Albany and hold a special vote to extend the life-saving program.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, most of the mobile speed camera fleet headed to a parking garage Wednesday afternoon. There it will stay until state senators return to Albany for a vote.

City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said because of the state’s inaction, schools will be less safe.

“Places where we’ve installed those cameras, we’ve seen speeding decline by more than 60 percent. We’ve seen the number of pedestrians getting hit drop by 17 percent, and fatal crashes go down by 55 percent,” she said.

The Mayor’s office said 120 of 140 school speed zones will cease the issuance of speeding violations. Twenty mobile speed cams will continue to move around the city, documenting violations and issuing tickets, until summer school stops in August.

In a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed his disappointment in seeing the cameras turn off.

“We just had the safest six months in the history of New York City, in terms of reducing traffic fatalities, and speed cameras were a big part of it,” de Blasio said.

The state Assembly voted to extend the program earlier in the year, but the Senate ended its session before a vote could be held.

“I wouldn’t mind it if there wasn’t evidence, but there is,” de Blasio said. “Where the speed cameras are placed by schools, speeding has gone down 60 percent.”

The mayor maintained the only people who should fear speed cameras are people who speed.

“I’m going to beg the Senate on behalf of the 1.1 million children in New York City, please return to Albany,” said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday blamed the expiration of the speed camera law squarely on the doorstep of the state Senate Republicans.

“They refused to extend the speed cameras for months and months and months in Albany, or they wanted to see some sort of backroom deal, trade for yeshivas, something,” Cuomo said.

Proponents have accused state Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) of using the bill as a bargaining chip to get other legislative priorities done.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, Cuomo warned that there will be consequences to allowing the speed cameras to be turned off.

“When the law expires, the speed cameras go away. The speed cameras go away, you will see speeding and recklessness increase, and you will put lives in jeopardy,” Cuomo said.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson piled on, calling extending and expanding the school zone cameras a “no-brainer,” and adding that he is sick to his stomach that the speed cameras are being shut down due to politics.

There is hope that a deal can be worked out to resume the use of the speed cameras before the end of the school year. If that does not happen, the pressure on the state Senate will increase significantly.