Will 24/7 Speed Safety Cameras Save Lives in NYC?

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Safe transit advocacy group argues that laws preventing New York City from operating speed cameras on nights and weekends is a major contributor to the city traffic violence.

A recent publication by safe transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives argues that a New York state law preventing New York City from operating speed enforcement cameras on nights and weekends is a contributor to the epidemic of traffic violence afflicting the city. According to the organization’s data, “59 percent of traffic fatalities occur at times when the cameras are not permitted to operate.” Under the state law, the city cannot operate those cameras for the majority of the week.

The numbers surrounding reckless driving in New York City speak for themselves. As Transportation Alternatives notes, speeding is considered a “major factor” in 80% of fatal vehicle crashes in the city. Moreover, car crashes have become “the leading cause of injurious death for children” in New York City. In spite of this, the city is not permitted to operate speed safety cameras in school zones 24/7. “Speeding doesn’t sleep, and when the life-saving benefits of speed safety cameras are restricted, people die,” the report argues.

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Speeding has become a huge issue on city streets and has lead to an increase in deaths over the past few years, which is why New Yorkers support the use of speed enforcement cameras for reducing speeding, traffic violence, and traffic fatalities.

Automated speeding enforcement cameras have demonstrable benefits, with speeding reduced as much as 72% in areas monitored by them, when they’re in effect. New Yorkers overwhelmingly support the use of automated speeding enforcement cameras, according to Transportation Alternatives’ surveys, even preferring it to the involvement of armed police officers in traffic enforcement. What’s more, the Federal Highway Administration has given speed safety cameras a five-out-of-five rating “for effectiveness in reducing fatal and injurious crashes.” 

To fight the epidemic of traffic violence in New York, Transportation Alternatives argues, state lawmakers should give New York City the authorization to operate its speed safety cameras 24/7. The organization additionally recommends a few other improvements to the city’s speeding camera enforcement program.”Any fines collected by a speed safety camera should be earmarked to fund safety improvements to the street or within the community board district where the violation occurred,” it proposes, “so the consequences of the unsafe streets will be put towards a solution.” It recommends further that these fines be based on income, and that some of the funding generated by these fines should be available to the victims of crashes (and their families) in order to deal with resultant expenses.

More information on the effectiveness of New York City’s speed safety camera program, and the need for state lawmakers to let the city expand it, is available via Transportation Alternatives.

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