Albany, New York -- Seventy New York City schoolchildren joined safe streets advocates, crash victims’ families and elected officials at the New York State Capitol today to demonstrate the threat of speeding to their classmates.
Donning graduation caps and carrying signs that read “Speeding Drivers Are a Threat to My Future” and “I Walk to School and I Want to Graduate,” the students spoke of their fears of walking in dangerous traffic conditions, and urged lawmakers to support covering more school zones with speed safety cameras. Currently just 140 school zones -- which represents just seven percent of schools in the five boroughs -- benefit from this life-saving technology.
The students’ protest, which took place on the Capitol’s Million Dollar Staircase, is part of a sweeping wave of support for the extension and expansion of New York City’s current, limited speed safety camera program. That program has proven wildly successful in recent years, reducing speeding in school zones by 63 percent and reducing pedestrian injuries by 23 percent at the average camera location.
Earlier this year, the State Assembly, in its one-house budget bill, supported expanding the speed safety camera program. But the State Senate did not include such a provision in its budget. If legislation is not passed this session, the City’s current authorization will expire at the end of 2018.
The current legislation up for debate -- which would more than double the number of speed safety cameras the City would be allowed to deploy, broadens the definition of a school zone to included streets that are near schools (and not solely streets on which school entrances are located) and extend the speed safety camera program until 2022 -- is endorsed by Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, United Federation of Teachers, and AARP, and has a growing surge of support from state elected officials.
“The evidence is clear that speed cameras work and save lives. The city's school speed camera pilot program has been a success. In fact, at locations with operating speed cameras, pedestrian, cyclist and motorist-related crashes have gone down by about 15 percent. We have to work together to both expand and extend the program. We cannot let it expire this summer. This is about protecting the more than one million schoolchildren who go to and from school every day. Speed cameras are a crucial tool to protect New Yorkers, who, in a 2017 survey, overwhelmingly favored the installation of more cameras in school zones across the city,” said State Senator Jose Peralta. “I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass my proposal that will increase the number of speed cameras and extend the current pilot program that, unquestionably, protects us all.”
“In 2013, I was proud to sponsor legislation that allowed speed safety cameras to be installed in a small number of school zones in New York City. Based on the demonstrated success of the program over the past five years, it is now time to expand this life-saving measure to make the streets around more of our schools safer for children, parents and caretakers, staff, and the surrounding community. The Senate and Assembly must take action against speeding motorists who recklessly endanger our neighborhoods and pass this bill,” said Assembly Member Deborah Glick.
"When parents send their kids to school, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll get there safely. New York City’s school speed camera program is a proven success, saving lives and making our streets safer for everyone. Limiting the number of speed cameras the city can deploy is ridiculous. Albany should not be denying New York City the right to protect our kids” said State Senator Liz Krueger.
“Dangerous drivers continue to kill because our laws do not treat their offenses seriously enough,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “We need to improve the law before yet another life is lost at the hands of irresponsible drivers.”
"It is unacceptable that out of the 2,000 New York City schools, currently only 140 school zones have speed safety cameras. This means only 7 percent of kids attend a school with a speed safety camera nearby. I am proud to support this legislation in order to protect our children from the unnecessary danger of speeding motorists around our schools," said State Senator Jose Serrano.
“I am a proud parent of a second grader in NYC, which is why I am a strong supporter of school speed cameras. Speed cameras save lives and are proven to reduce speeding in New York City school zones by more than 60 percent. Speeding is the number one cause for traffic fatalities in New York City, and it is outrageous that we are not passing commonsense legislation to protect New Yorkers,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “I am proud to co-sponsor this necessary legislation that will save lives and keep children safe near their schools.”
“We have an obligation to protect our children in every way we can, particularly in school zones. I wholeheartedly support the addition of speed cameras as a method of accident prevention in these critical areas where large groups of youth gather. When used, these devices have proven to reduce traffic collisions. Under those conditions, I am proud to stand with the school safety advocates and my colleagues in government to support the installation of speed cameras in additional school zones across New York,” said State Senator James Sanders Jr.
"As I have previously stated in joining with Mayor de Blasio and a host of other city and state legislators, I support even more camera-enhanced speed zones around our city's schools to protect the almost three million New York children who travel to and from school daily, as well as other pedestrians,” said State Senator Luis Sepulveda. “Simply put, the number of injuries reduced and the reductions of speeding violations because of cameras already put in place speak for themselves."
"The first obligation of any elected official is to the safety and security of their constituency. I strongly support the movement to increase the number of speed safety cameras in school zones, to protect our most valuable resources--our children. With over 90 percent of schools lacking speed safety cameras, we can, and must, do more," said State Senator Marisol Alcantara.
"New York City's school-based speed camera program has reduced speeding and injuries to all road users. This added protection must be expanded to more schools and neighborhoods in our city, far beyond the current limitation of just 140 school zones, said State Senator Tony Avella. I strongly support S6046-B, which will also require signage to alert drivers of all upcoming speed safety cameras - a common sense measure I fought for, which will help ensure drivers slow down anytime our children are at or near their school."
"I support adding more speed cameras in New York City,” said Assembly Member Felix Ortiz. “Speeding cars cause injuries, especially around schools. These cameras can make a tremendous difference, slowing drivers down from causing serious accidents. Drivers will take notice that they must obey the laws and slow down.”
"Areas that have speed cameras have been fortunate to see speeding drop by an average of 50 percent," said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal. "There is no reason that any school in New York City should be denied the opportunity to have safer surrounding streets and fewer risks for their children to face. It is way past time to pass legislation authorizing more speed cameras."
“It’s clear from the data that traffic-calming measures like installing more speed cameras in school zones, reduce injuries and fatalities for pedestrians, motorists, and passengers alike,” said Assembly Member Richard Gottfried. “I join Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives in urging my fellow legislators in Albany to allow New York City to increase public safety by installing more speed cameras in neighborhoods near schools.”
“The main responsibility of our leaders is the safety and well being of our children,” Assembly Member Carmen Arroyo.
“Every year, schools in my district see accidents because people are driving carelessly in school zones. Too many children have been hurt while trying to get an education, and we must take steps to ensure children’s safety. Speed cameras are once such method. I am a proud co-sponsor of A. 7798B, which increases the amount of speed cameras that can be placed in school zones. I voted for this bill last year, and I will continue to fight for this and other measures to make sure our children are safe at school,” said Assembly Member Walter Mosley.
“As a community, we strive to make the world a more inviting and friendlier place for our children. They deserve to have a world much better than what was once left to us. It is important that we achieve this in making our streets safer by calming traffic around our city schools,” said Assembly Member Inez Dickens. “I applaud the Every School Coalition and our city’s parents to ensuring our children’s future, I look forward to working with them in passing safe streets legislation.
"We must do more to ensure that kids are safe on city streets and throughout the state. This life-saving legislation would expand speed safety cameras near schools, which drastically reduces speeding and injuries in those locations. The recent tragedy in Park Slope that took the lives of two young children is another devastating reminder that we must act swiftly. Thanks to Families for Safe Streets and TransAlt for fighting for this common-sense street safety measure," said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.
“I commend my colleague Assembly Member Deborah Glick for fighting for the safety of our children in school zones by introducing a bill to reduce incidents of speeding, as well as Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets for their advocacy on this important issue,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. “Having 140 speed cameras around all New York City schools is not good enough. The safety of our children is a priority and not just when school is open. We need to do more to prevent road tragedies near schools, and that means making this bill a reality.”
"The effectiveness of the speed safety camera pilot program speaks for itself," said Assembly Member Amy Paulin. "The New York City Department of Transportation reports that speed infractions have dropped 63 percent where the cameras have been installed. It is common sense to expand programs like these that are so successful at keeping our schools and our kids safe from harm."
"Speed cameras are a proven, effective way to keep our neighborhoods and children safe," said Assembly Member Dan Quart. "I'm proud to support the EverySchool Coalition's goal of expanding speed safety cameras to every school zone in New York City to protect our students. Speeding kills more New Yorkers than any other driver behavior and we must do all we can to stop these preventable fatalities and injuries."
“It’s our duty as legislators to ensure students are safe both inside the classroom and on school grounds. To improve safety at schools across New York City, I join my Assembly colleagues in supporting legislation to increase the number of speed safety cameras in school zones and allow them to operate during the entire time reduced speed limits are in effect (A.7798-B). This commonsense measure will make the roads near our schools safer and help prevent tragedies because one life lost is one too many,” said Assembly Member Victor Pichardo.
“As a co-sponsor of A7798-B, I commend my fellow colleagues in the New York State Assembly for passing legislation that will bring life-saving speed safety cameras to more New York City schools and Communities,” said Assembly Member Michael DenDekker. “I ask that my colleagues in the New York State Senate support this vital piece of legislation. I implore all New Yorkers to call their State Senators and ask them to pass S-6046-B, otherwise known as the Speed Safety Camera Act.”
“I am proud to stand with New York’s middle school students, Families for Safe Streets, AARP NY, NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and my colleagues in government to call for an expansion of speed safety cameras in New York City school zones. I was proud to vote for A.7798-B last year as it passed the Assembly, but we must have a comprehensive law enabling use of these cameras to protect our 1 million students in New York,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi.
"Expanding the speed safety cameras to the rest of the school zones in the City is a priority. Traffic fatalities across our schools continue to happen and this legislation aims to reduce if not end this rate as a result. Any investment to protect the quality of life of our children and in this case to increase their safety net is invaluable to our City and of course to our great State. I stand in solidarity with the advocates, students, and parents who have been affected by traffic violence and I extend my support for this piece of legislation and commit to push hard for its passage,” said Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa.
"I support the Every School Speed Safety Camera Act because it goes beyond police officer traffic enforcement to help our children travel to and from school more safely. Speed safety cameras are needed at every school and since we've implemented this program at a number of school zones, speeding violations and accidents were drastically reduced," said Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez.
“New York City has lost too many lives due to speeding,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “Speed cameras around school zones will prevent unnecessary deaths from occurring in areas where children should feel safe and will deter drivers from speeding. I urge Albany to pass this important piece of legislation and I want to thank the advocates for highlighting this critical issue.”
“We should never play politics when our children’s lives are at stake,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Millions of school children are left vulnerable every single day to speeding drivers and traffic crashes, even though we have common-sense intervention at our fingertips. We know that speed cameras have and will continue to save lives and it is imperative that the State act now to protect our children.”
“Since 2016, more than 2.5 million tickets have been issued to drivers caught by traffic cameras speeding through the less than 10 percent of school zones currently authorized to use speed cameras. That includes more than 82,000 repeat offenders who have racked up more than five speeding violations each, in the last 26 months alone. These numbers are outrageous, and too often they lead to heartbreaking tragedy in our communities. The Every School Speed Safety Camera Act is a critical measure that will keep our children safe, and we need it now. There should be no second thought. Our report should serve as a wake-up call for safer streets – and this legislation is one big part of the solution,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “As a father, I worry about my two boys every day. All parents in our city deserve to rest easy that our kids are safe at school, and that includes in the streets surrounding them. I thank TransAlt for taking the lead on this critical step forward for our city’s safety.”
“As Brooklyn’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to protecting pedestrians and holding drivers accountable for their reckless driving. Our children deserve every safeguard we can give them and so I urge the passage of The Every School Speed Safety Camera Act. It is a necessary and valuable tool in our efforts to combat reckless driving,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
“Speed safety cameras reduce traffic deaths and slow down drivers near schools. They provide equitable, consistent, and effective enforcement,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. “It’s time for Albany to let New York City protect our kids.”
"Last week, a nine-year-old boy was killed in a Queens crosswalk. His death is one of far too many. Crashes like these are preventable, yet they happen every day,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Speed safety cameras enforce the law absolutely and without bias, and they are a remarkably effective tool for preventing crashes. Unfortunately, Albany politics has stood in the way of protecting more of our children with this life-saving technology. We are here today to demand more, because saving kids’ lives should transcend politics.”
“Safe streets benefit residents of all ages. Older adults make up 17 percent of New York City’s population, but they account for 47 percent of traffic fatalities. Something needs to be done, and speed cameras are a proven deterrent to dangerous driving. AARP fully supports this legislation sponsored by Senator Jose Peralta and Assembly Member Deborah Glick to vastly expand the use of speed cameras around city schools and make New York City a safer place for residents of all ages,” said David McNally, Director of Government Affairs & Advocacy for AARP New York.
“How are we still debating this? Speed safety cameras around schools make a difference. They slow driver's down and we save children's lives. It is infuriating that we have to keep arguing why we need speed safety cameras," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.
"UJA-Federation of New York stands with students, parents, and elected officials and with the EverySchool coalition in urging New York's lawmakers to pass this critical speed safety legislation that will protect thousands of New York City children," said Louisa Chafee, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and External Relations at UJA Federation NY.
"For children in the Bronx, wanting to go outside and engage in physical activity should not be a matter of life or death," said Charmaine Ruddock, Project Director for Bronx Health REACH at the Institute for Family Health. "But with many schools lacking speed safety cameras it is a dangerous endeavor children undertake when they walk, run or bike near their school because of the very imminent threat reckless drivers pose. We urge all elected officials to pass the Every School Speed Safety Camera Bill so not only Bronx children, but all New York City children can safely get their daily amount of physical activity."
"Nothing is more important than the safety of our students and school staff. Speed cameras will slow drivers' down and help to reduce accidents and save lives,” said Andy Pallotta, NYSUT President. “We urge the adoption of this important legislation immediately.”