Amid a steady decline in pedestrian deaths, New York lawmakers will allow a law allowing speed cameras in school zones to expire this week. According to Mayor de Blasio, traffic deaths have decreased 55 percent in school zones equipped with cameras. Despite its effectiveness and relatively low cost, the Republican-led state Senate refused to renew the program while in session, despite its passing the Democratic-controlled state Assembly
Originally part of Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero,” the cameras originally went up across the city in 2014. Since that time, over 140 schools have been equipped with speed cameras across the five boroughs, according to NY1. Hoping the Senate would be recalled from recess to extend the deadline before it reconvenes in January, Mayor de Blasio accused the state legislators of “effectively legalizing deadly driving in New York City school zones,” and failing to “protect New Yorkers.”
The Senate Republicans did not directly respond to Mayor de Blasio’s comments, but previously derided the school zone camera program. In the view of these legislators, the privacy infringement does not outweigh any potential increase in safety around the schools. They have also said the program is ineffective, describing it as only existing to fill government coffers and that any reduction in traffic fatalities could be explained by the larger reduction in pedestrian deaths across the city.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, for his part, supports continuing the speed light camera program for another four years. Democrats in Albany, along with his perpetual critic Mayor de Blasio, complain the Governor has not sufficiently lobbied for the bill – other than saying he will sign the legislation if it comes onto his desk. With the program ending this week, it is unlikely that bill will be signed before the state legislators return to work in January 2019.