New York State lawmakers have authorized a nearly five-fold increase in the number of speed cameras used to monitor traffic around New York City schools. The presence of traffic cameras in school zones is intended to slow down drivers and protect students and others from pedestrian accidents, a state Senate news release says.
The legislation revives a pilot program that saw the installation of cameras at 20 school zones in every borough in 2014, which was later expanded to 160 school zones.
The program produced strong results: a 63 percent reduction in speeding in monitored school zones during school hours, a 15 percent reduction in car accidents, and a 17 percent reduction in car accident injuries, according to a city report. The average number of deaths each year in school zones with a camera fell from 18 to 8.
But political bickering caused funding for the program to lapse. In January, Gov. Cuomo vowed to revive the NYC speed camera program and expand its size.
The new program will expand the use of cameras to 750 school zones in New York City, which city officials say will cover every elementary, middle and high school in the city. The expanded speed cameras will start in July with 40 new traffic cameras installed each month.
The new law:
- Requires cameras to operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. Previously, cameras operated from an hour before school started until an hour after and from 30 minutes before school activities to 30 minutes afterward.
- Defines a “school speed zone” as being a distance not to exceed 1,320 feet – a quarter of a mile – from a school building, entrance or exit.
- Requires New York City to install signs notifying drivers that speed cameras are being used.
Expansion of the New York City speed camera program will be phased in over three years. The New York Times describes it the most robust speed camera program in the nation.
The Senate also authorized a speed camera pilot program for up to 20 school zones in Buffalo.
How Do New York City Speed Cameras Work?
Speed is a contributing factor in many serious traffic accidents in New York City, including those involving pedestrians.
Fixed-site speed cameras detect the speed of vehicles through a pair of electronic detectors embedded into the road surface. When a car passes over one of the detectors, an electronic signal activates the camera and the vehicle’s speed is determined by the time it takes it to reach the second sensor.
If the speed of the vehicle is faster than the speed limit, the camera takes a digital picture of the vehicle. The date, time, location and speed are recorded along with a photo of the vehicle and its license plate.
In New York City, the vehicle’s speed must exceed the speed limit in the school zone by 10 mph for a photo to be taken.
The fine for speeding detected by a speed camera in New York City is $50, regardless of the speed or whether it was a repeat offense. Normally, speeding in a school zone results in a fine of $180-$600 on a first offense, depending on the motorist’s speed and prior record, plus a $88 state surcharge. A ticket issued by police also goes on the driver’s record and will adversely affect insurance rates.
Speed Cameras Found to be Effective
The city’s report says speed cameras in school zones have led to a drop in speeding accidents, and that have made New Yorkers safer. After a speed camera was activated in a school zone, injuries from car accidents at the site dropped 17 percent during all hours of the day, despite the fact that the cameras are deactivated during most of day and year.
Multiple studies cited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that traffic cameras can substantially reduce speeding on a wide range of roads and reduce crashes and crash injuries. IIHS studies of cameras on residential roads in Maryland, on a high-speed roadway in Arizona and on city streets in Washington, D.C., found that the proportion of drivers exceeding speed limits by more than 10 mph declined by 70, 88 and 82 percent, respectively, six to eight months after cameras were introduced.
Speed cameras were in operation in 137 U.S. communities in 14 states and Washington, D.C., during 2018, the IIHS says.
Speed is one of the most significant contributing factors to car accidents and pedestrian accidents in New York City.
The car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates have seen the tragic consequences of drivers who disregard New York City speed limits and cause serious accidents, including accidents in school zones. We are committed to helping people who have been harmed by careless and reckless drivers.
If you have been seriously injured in a car or pedestrian accident in New York City that was caused by someone else, contact David Resnick & Associates, P.C., for a free initial evaluation of your case today.