Assembly Passes Life-Saving School Zone Speed Camera Legislation for New York City and Buffalo

Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes today announced that the Assembly passed life-saving legislation to expand the use of speed cameras in New York City school zones, and to establish a demonstration school zone speed camera program in Buffalo. The bills will encourage motorists to drive with caution through school zones, and help protect the lives of students and pedestrians.

“The safety of children and students is one of our top priorities,” Speaker Heastie said. “We saw from New York City’s demonstration program that speed cameras in school zones dramatically decrease the number of infractions, preventing deadly accidents. I’m glad that this year we could work together with our Senate colleagues to pass legislation that will help save the lives of schoolchildren and other pedestrians.”

“New Yorkers want safer streets,” Assemblymember Glick said. “There is no reason to tolerate drivers speeding through communities, and especially in school zones. It is past time that we expanded this proven program, protecting students, caregivers and school staff from the danger posed by reckless drivers.”

“Speeding vehicles in my community, and throughout the State, have too often resulted in tragic and avoidable consequences,” Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes said. “Authorizing the city of Buffalo to establish a school zone speed monitoring demonstration program will supplement police efforts to curb speeding violations, and help keep Buffalo’s students and residents safe.”

“The Assembly Majority is committed to making sure our roads are safe for everyone – including pedestrians,” Transportation Committee Chair William B. Magnarelli said. “Speeding, distracted drivers are a hazard to everyone, but especially in school zones. The expanded speed camera program will help alleviate parents’ worries when they send their kids off to school.”

Legislation passed today would expand the use of speed cameras to 750 school zones in New York City (A.6449, Glick). The cameras will operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the city will be required to install signs giving notice that a speed camera is in use. A 2013 law established a five year demonstration program, which allowed New York City to set up cameras in 20 school zones, and required the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to submit a report to the governor and legislature on the effectiveness of the program.

Over that five year period, New York City DOT found that the risk of pedestrian death increases from five percent at a speed of 20 miles per hour to 45 percent at a speed of 30 miles per hour, a 900 percent increase. They also found that there was a 60 percent drop in speeding infractions in school zones where speed cameras have been installed.

Speeding drivers are a pervasive problem in some areas of the city of Buffalo, particularly in school zones where families and children are especially vulnerable. Under current law, a police officer must be present at the scene of a speeding violation to serve the driver with a summons. There are not, however, a sufficient number of police officers to observe every speeding violation in school zones.

The Assembly will also pass a bill to establish a demonstration program implementing speed cameras in Buffalo school zones (A.951, Peoples-Stokes). Like the original New York City program, the city of Buffalo will be authorized to operate cameras in 20 school zones, and use images from the speed cameras to impose liability on the owner of the speeding vehicle, supplementing the police effort.

“This is a huge victory for safe streets,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We applaud the Assembly and the Senate for helping us tackle avoidable tragedies on our streets by dramatically expanding our speed camera program. This is another key tool that we will use to aggressively pursue Vision Zero and to save lives across the city.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown stated, “Speed safety cameras near schools make sense and I commend Senator Tim Kennedy, Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and both the State Senate and Assembly for working together to pass this life-saving legislation. We must continue to do everything we can to calm traffic in school zones. This tool serves to remind all motorists to slow down, obey traffic laws and keep our children safe.”  

“School zone speed cameras save lives, period,” New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said. “Today is a big step forward in the fight for safer streets and the fight to protect our children from traffic violence. I applaud my colleagues in Albany for taking action to protect our students and I look forward to continuing to work together to make City streets safer.”

“We thank the Senate and Assembly for their incredible leadership today, passing what is now the nation’s strongest speed-camera law” said New York City DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We know speed cameras were a central part of the encouraging results we have had in New York City under Vision Zero, where fatalities have declined for five straight years, bucking national trends.”

“We have been fighting for years to protect more New Yorkers from reckless drivers, so we're pleased to finally see this new state legislature approve a dramatic expansion of the life-saving speed safety camera program. As we know all too well, speeding is a deadly act and has to stop. We have an epidemic and speed safety cameras are a huge part of the cure. We're grateful to Senator Goundardes and Assemblymember Glick for taking up this cause and being champions for safer streets,” said Amy Cohen, founding member of Families for Safe Streets.

“After years of making the case for covering more school zones with this life-saving technology, we’re proud to stand with Assembly Member Glick and State Senator Gounardes, who have been unwavering in their support for safer streets on behalf of all New Yorkers. Given the efficacy of the original 140-camera program, which we can say without reservation has saved lives and prevented injuries on our streets, we have no doubt that this expansion will lead to a safer walk to school for many more children in the five boroughs,” said Marco Conner, interim director of Transportation Alternatives. “This is a watershed moment for New York City that will lead to safer streets and neighborhoods during what is now the most dangerous times of day. We look forward to standing with Governor Cuomo to see this truly historic legislation signed into law.”

“The statistics are clear: Reducing speeds saves lives,” New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said. “This legislation will help promote a safer school environment for children, educators and all community members.”

“Our students, our staff, our school neighborhoods will be safer because of this legislation. This is an example of what government can do when all the stakeholders - educators, parents, advocates, public officials - come together,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

“Safe streets benefit residents of all ages, and speed cameras are a proven deterrent to dangerous driving. AARP thanks Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie and the Legislature for this strong step toward making New York City a safer place for our members and all New Yorkers. With residents 65 and over accounting for half of all city traffic fatalities in 2017 despite making up only about a seventh of the city’s population, it’s time for action. We hope the Governor signs this bill into law,” said AARP State Director Beth Finkel.