New York Metropolis officers are as soon as once more locked in battle with fellow Democrats in Albany over a problem that has bedeviled New York’s political leaders for years: speed cameras.
There are 2,000 speed zone cameras round New York Metropolis. They’re solely allowed to be positioned 1 / 4 of a mile from a school and might mechanically ship a $50 ticket to a automobile proprietor if their automotive travels not less than 10 miles an hour over the speed restrict. However the cameras solely function from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on school days as a result of that’s how the state invoice was written.
With 82 site visitors fatalities to this point in 2022, the town is on observe to have as lethal a yr— if not moreso — than 2021. (Final yr was the deadliest since 2013.) Officers and avenue security advocates argue the town’s school speed zone cameras may play a bigger position in stopping crashes. However this system could possibly be in jeopardy if lawmakers in Albany can’t agree to renew it by June 2nd.
A invoice submitted by State Sen. Andrew Gounardes would each renew this system, however may additionally give the school speed zone cameras extra teeth to clamp down on reckless driving.
For instance, if a driver is caught rushing greater than 5 occasions in two years, then that driver’s info could be despatched to their insurer by the Division of Motor Automobiles. A sixth violation would end in suspension of a driver’s license for 90 days.
Whereas Gounardes himself admits these explicit adjustments doubtless gained’t occur this yr, he stated he is assured different adjustments in his invoice have a greater likelihood —resembling increasing speed digital camera hours past the school day. One other could possibly be a brand new positive construction that will increase for repeated violations.
“I feel reasonably confident that the Legislature is going to renew the speed camera program, and at a minimum extend the hours to operate 24/7,” Sen. Gounardes instructed Gothamist. “And we’re still discussing ways to crack down on recidivist drivers.”
In 2018, Republican state lawmakers waited for the school speed zone invoice to come up for renewal and used it as a bargaining chip for quite a lot of unrelated points. The invoice wasn’t handed in time and the cameras weren’t issuing tickets for practically two months till it lastly made it by way of the State Senate.
“Certainly, I don’t think anyone in any of my conversations has articulated anything even close to that type of horse trading,” Gounardes stated. “To be seen as playing politics with something you know is black-and-white, these things work, this is part of the solution. I haven’t spoken to a single person that wants to play politics with that kind of policy.”
Mayor Eric Adams and advocates have known as on lawmakers to give New York Metropolis “home rule,” which might enable the town to decide what number of speed cameras needs to be positioned within the metropolis and the way they need to function — in addition to setting the speed restrict — however that doesn’t seem to have any substantive help from lawmakers in Albany.
At present, in accordance to the New York State structure, these kinds of selections are made by state lawmakers within the Meeting and Senate, not native municipalities.
There have been 39 pedestrians and three cyclists killed to this point this yr on metropolis streets, which is about the identical quantity as this time final yr, in accordance to the town Division of Transportation. Nevertheless, there’s a significant uptick in drivers killed, with 28 fatalities in contrast to 15 final yr presently. The DOT stated that is indicative of the damaging driving on metropolis streets. The remaining fatalities on this yr’s tally concerned different motorized automobiles resembling bikes.
“We need every tool available to us to save lives and fight the rise in reckless drivers,” Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez stated at a Metropolis Council listening to Thursday.
The DOT stated it had additionally hoped the state Legislature would enable the town to set up cameras in bike lanes that ticket automobiles that park there, and broaden the variety of crimson mild cameras. At present, cameras that mechanically ticket automobiles that run crimson mild cameras can function at 1 p.c of metropolis intersections, per laws in Albany. That works out to about 223 cameras at 150 intersections.
There are solely 9 working days left within the legislative session.