Peralta Fights To Keep School Zone Cameras Alive

State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside), Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets, parents, and students gathered at P.S.330 in Corona to day to protest the deactivation of the School Zone Speed Camera Program.

The cameras were installed as a pilot program four years ago, as part of Mayor DiBlasio’s Zero Vision initiative to reduce traffic fatalities. It expired today and needed state legislation to not only continue, but expand from 140 cameras around schools to 290.

This bill, the Speed Zone Camera Program bill (S.6046-C) has passed in the assembly session, and Peralta pushed for it on the senate side, noting the devastating effects of not having these devices to help enforce safe driving. However, the bill stalled in the senate chamber and the legislative session ended June 30, leaving the program to expire.

Photo by Clarke Illmatical

“This program saved countless lives, and because of the lack of action from the Senate Republican Majority to vote on my bill, school zone speed cameras will be turned off today. This is senseless, illogical. This program has been tremendously successful,” said Peralta.

“New York City kids will no longer be protected from reckless drivers when they travel to and from school. This is a sad day for our city, for our kids and for all New Yorkers. In September, more than one million children will return to school on more dangerous roads, this is unacceptable,” he added.

Peralta said according to a recent poll, 88 percent of New Yorkers surveyed, support the school zone automated enforcement program, an additional 77 percent of them, support expanding the program to more schools, 74 percent of Republicans support expanding or keeping the program and 93 percent of New Yorkers, 65 or older, support the life-saving initiative.

These numbers coincide with stats, demonstrating the effectiveness of the School Zone Speed Camera Program, which has reduced speed zone violations in school zones and across the city.

Karen Manrique, who lost her 9-year-old son, during a Northern Boulevard accident earlier this year, passionately addressed the crowd and members of the Senate.

“To all the Republicans, this is my son. My son was killed 3 months ago. How dare you not sign the bill. You think this is a game? You guys are playing with the kid’s lives. Our children who are starting summer school tomorrow, and in September they start school. So, I’m begging you as a mother, who lost a child three months ago, to put the camera back on. Do not shut it down. I will fight this for my son who lost his life,” she said.

Photo by Clarke Illmatical

Even though the bill has passed in session Assembly, and has support from Gov. Cuomo, there are those in the Senate Republic who ostensibly believe that more stop signs will be equally effective as the camera program.

But Peralta spoke on the ineffectiveness of additional stop signs saying “There is no data, no studies that show that the street signs are what deter people from speeding. In fact, quite the opposite, there is data that shows when you have speed cameras, that deters people from speeding, 81 percent of the people who get a speeding violation for the first time, don’t get a second one. That’s because they know, that once they pass by a local school and they know that there is a local speed camera there, they will slow down.”

Peralta said that he would seek a 30-day emergency extension for the camera program.