Gounardes Passes Legislation Upping School Speed Cameras

Copy of Sen. Marty Golden

Smile – you’re on the School Speed Zone cameras – one of up to 750 imaging devices soon to be placed around the city.

That after State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend) and Assembly Member Deborah Glick’s (D-Manhattan) legislation to substantially expand New York City’s school zone speed camera program was passed by the New York State Legislature this week.

The passage of the measure comes nearly a year after the program expired when the state senate failed to approve renewal of the program.

Andrew Gounardes
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes

“No parent, senior, or pedestrian of any age should live in fear of crossing the street because of speeding traffic. This program slows traffic and saves lives. Plain and simple. The numbers are indisputable and speak for themselves: 63% reduction in speeding traffic and 14% in traffic injuries. We know that speed is determinant of the severity of an injury received in a crash. I’ll never apologize for prioritizing the safety of millions of pedestrians over the issuance of tickets to reckless drivers,” said Gounardes.

Last July, 140 speed safety cameras placed around city schools went dark after state lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on the program. Competing measures were then introduced including a proposal to create traffic control zones around schools with traffic lights and stop signs and doubles the penalty for speeding in the zone, and the funding of an armed New York City Police member in front of public schools.

The new measure will expand and update the speed camera program by:

  • Increasing the number of authorized school zones where cameras may be placed from 140 to 750
  • Expanding hours of operation from 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • Changing the definition of a school zone from any street adjacent to a school building, entrance, or exit to 1/4 mile radial distance.
  • Requiring signs to be installed notifying motorists of speeding photo enforcement. 
  • Expanding the City’s annual reporting requirements on the program to include effectiveness and adequacy of hours of operation as well as total expenditures spent on street safety and pedestrian improvements.

Gounardes, whose district in southern Brooklyn has been plagued by ongoing safety issues, recently created the Southern Brooklyn Pedestrian Safety Task Force and has advocated tirelessly to bring measurable changes to notoriously dangerous community streets.

A Department Of Transportation map showing the lack of bike lanes in South Brooklyn.

To date in 2019, the number of fatal collisions, and injuries caused by cars colliding into cyclists and pedestrians, increased in the Bensonhurst and Bath Beach portions of Gounardes’s district — neither of which has any bike lanes — when compared to the number of similar incidents within the same time span last year, according to reports from the Brooklyn Paper from city data.

Motorists killed three people, injured seven cyclists, and hurt 37 pedestrians on streets in those parts of the pol’s district this year, according to the statistics, which reported drivers killed no one, injured four cyclists, and hurt 36 pedestrians in the same time period last year.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, cameras have reduced speeding during school hours at fixed camera locations by more than 63% and led to a drop in traffic injuries by 14%.  Likewise, 81% of drivers who receive tickets don’t receive another, according to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT).

Jo Anne Simon
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon

Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D-Downton Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill) applauded passage of the legislation and urged Gov. Cuomo to sign the measure into law swiftly.

“Parents shouldn’t have to wonder if their kids are safe on their way to school.  This life-saving legislation expands speed safety cameras near schools, which we know drastically reduces speeding and injuries in those locations.” said Simon.

Simon also noted the passage of bill, A4950-A, of which she is a co-sponsor, that would allow the city to implement a school bus photo violation monitoring system to ensure that kids get to school safely

Currently, drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus displaying a red visual signal can only be issued a ticket by a police officer who witnesses the violation. This new program would permit municipalities to install cameras on school buses as well as stationary cameras and issue fines to drivers who illegally pass. This bill awaits a vote in the Senate.