2016-04-13 / Features

Peralta, DenDekker Bill To Expand Traffic Cameras


State Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Michael Dendekker, far left, joined by Assemblyman Francisco Moya, unveiled legislation aimed at expanding the City’s traffic camera program. State Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Michael Dendekker, far left, joined by Assemblyman Francisco Moya, unveiled legislation aimed at expanding the City’s traffic camera program. State Senator Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Assemblyman Michael Dendekker (D-East Elmhurst) unveiled legislation on April 7 to crack down on speeding drivers, in an effort to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities throughout New York City. The proposals to improve pedestrian safety would eliminate the current time restrictions on the use of school speed cameras, expand the program to all school zones in the City and suspend the registration of a vehicle after five traffic camera violations.

Senator Peralta and Assemblymember DenDekker are sponsoring legislation that would remove temporal limitations of speed cameras installed to monitor school zones. Currently, the use of these speed monitoring devices in school areas is limited to periods of operational school hours, including one hour before and after the beginning and end of the school day. In addition, the speed cameras operate during student activities, and up to 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after these activities take place.

When the State Legislature originally authorized this photo speed monitoring pilot program in 2013, it established a 2018 end date. Under this proposal, the program to improve pedestrian safety would be made permanent.

In addition, and in light of the unequivocal success of the program, Peralta introduced a bill that would expand the program, eliminating the 140 school speed camera cap put in place. The new legislation would extend the program to all school zones Citywide. “Clearly, installing speed cameras in school zones has been a successful initiative. To make this even more effective, we should do away with these senseless restrictions on times of operation and the number of cameras that may be in use. Accidents, especially preventable accidents, can occur at any time of the day, any day of the week” said Peralta. “Speeding is one of the leading factors in many fatal and serious accidents, so let’s make sure we do everything we can to deter drivers from speeding, especially in school areas. This new legislation would save lives and would make streets safer for our kids and all pedestrians in general.”

According to media reports, since the installation of speed cameras in school zones at the beginning of 2014, 945,000 speed violation tickets were issued by September 2015. Statistics from the New York City Department of Transportation point out that, at first, each school speed camera issued an average of 192 violations per day. However, by September of last year, the number decreased to an average of 69 summonses per day.

“Just by looking at the number of tickets issued, we can see that drivers are speeding less and less in areas where cameras are installed,” noted Peralta.

The registration bill establishes that if a vehicle has five traffic camera violations in one year, then that vehicle’s registration will be suspended for six months. The suspension will begin five days after the notice of liability for the fifth violation has been mailed. This law would exempt rental cars, however, it does not exempt cars owned by businesses. Under current law, a moving violation cannot be issued for a traffic camera violation, only a fine can be issued to the owner of the car.

“The most important work we do as legislators is to protect the safety and well-being of our citizens. One way that we can do that is to hold reckless drivers accountable, which is what these two bills do,” said DenDekker. “Schools are safe places that attract students during all hours, including evenings and weekends. Lifting the time on speed cameras in school zones will ensure that these areas stay safe for kids all of the time, not just during school hours. The second bill suspends a car’s registration for six months if that car has five traffic camera violations in one year. This penalizes habitually dangerous drivers who create unnecessary risks in our communities. These bills help keep Queens, and all of New York, a safe place for pedestrians.”

Cristina Furlong, co-founder of Make Queens Safer, said, “Speeding is the leading cause of traffic deaths in New York. Traffic safety cameras have reduced speeding by 60% in school zones where they have been installed, but 93% of schools in the city still lack them. Every child deserves the protection that these cameras provide for a safer trip to school. We are delighted that Senator Peralta is joining parents citywide who are pushing to authorize traffic safety cameras at every school in the City, expand their hours of operation, and making the safety camera program permanent.”

Peralta added, “Our children need and deserve safer streets. And we must ensure we put all the mechanisms in place to make sure people drive at safe speeds, at slower speeds. These bills would also go far toward countering the City’s epidemic of hit-and-run accidents.”

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