New York City officials are ramping up their advocacy for increased automated traffic enforcement by the city’s speed cameras, according to a recent report by Gothamist. As reckless driving and traffic fatalities increase throughout the city, officials like Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman are arguing that speed cameras be turned on 24 hours a day.
There are currently about 2000 speed cameras operating throughout New York City, per Gothamist, at 750 school zones. By law they are only able to operate between 6am and 10pm, rendering them unable to enforce traffic violations outside of those hours. The speed camera program “issues $50 fines to motorists traveling at least 10 miles over the speed limit,” according to the report, and “has been shown to significantly reduce reckless driving around New York City’s school zones.”
Unfortunately, Gothamist notes, a recent increase in traffic fatalities is believed to result in part from “late-night reckless driving” outside the speed cameras’ hours of operation, such as the recent death of a 27-year-old Brooklynite who “was killed after crashing into a pole and flipping his car inside a school zone” in Queens, at 4am. Gutman, the DOT commissioner, used this incident as an indication that the city should be granted the authority to expand school zone speed camera operation.
State lawmakers did not pass a bill in their last legislative session that would have granted New York City this authority. Andrew Gounardes, the state senator who introduced the bill, told Gothamist he is “hopeful” it might pass next time around: We’ve seen an increase in drag racing at night, but the cameras are powerless against it… There’s a big vulnerability in terms of what safety and protection these cameras can offer.” While a spokesperson for New York’s new governor, Kathy Hochul, did not comment to Gothamist, Gounardes told the publication he doubts she will oppose the speed camera expansion; her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, had opposed a call to give authority over the program to city authorities. “I was never left with the impression that she had concerns or qualms with speed camera enforcement,” Gounardes told Gothamist.
More information on New York City’s speed camera enforcement program is available via Gothamist.