New York City voters overwhelmingly favor bringing speed safety cameras to more school zones, according to a new Penn Schoen Berland poll commissioned by Transportation Alternatives.
In the survey of nearly 900 likely voters, 64 percent of respondents across the five boroughs said they strongly support the City installing more of the cameras, which are currently capped at 140 by state law. The level of strong support is significantly higher among women (72 percent) and respondents who identified as Black (78 percent), Hispanic (79 percent), and lower-income (80 percent). Similar percentages of respondents also say speed safety cameras should be allowed to operate outside of school hours, when children continue to use playgrounds and other facilities near schools. Even 60 percent of car owners surveyed expressed strong support for the expansion of automated speed enforcement.
“These poll results send a powerful message that people across the five boroughs want greater protection from the reckless speeding that remains a leading killer of New Yorkers and is especially lethal for our children,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “In areas where these devices have been installed, we’ve seen a 50 percent drop in speeding on average. We know this Vision Zero tool works. We need to be able to use it to save lives and prevent injuries in every community, at all times.”
Amy Cohen, a founding member of Families for Safe Streets whose 12-year-old son Sammy was struck and killed by a speeding driver, said, “Speeding kills more New Yorkers than drunk driving and cell phone use at the wheel combined, and traffic crashes are the number one cause of injury-related death among our kids. But 93 percent of our schools are still unprotected, because current State law limits the cameras to 140 school zones. We need them 24/7 on the most dangerous streets that children cross coming to and from school. State lawmakers and the Governor must take action this session, so no more families will have to lose loved ones or suffer serious injury because of crashes that we can prevent, caused by reckless behavior we can deter.”
Members of Families for Safe Streets will be in Albany in the coming days to meet with members of Governor Cuomo’s staff to discuss the Every School Speed Safety Camera Act, legislation introduced last session by Assembly Member Deborah Glick and State Senator Jose Peralta. It would allow speed safety cameras at any school in the city, expand the radius to 1/4 of a mile from a school within which a camera can be positioned, and allow the cameras to operate all days at any time of the day. It will also prohibit placing a camera within 300 feet of a highway exit ramp and will require a sign to alert drivers in all photo-enforced school zones.
The cameras currently in operation issue tickets to motorists who are caught driving more than 10 mph above the posted speed limit, with a $50 fine. To ensure the cameras remain fair in every way, advocates are also asking to require signs by every speed safety camera.
The EverySchool campaign, which has strong support from major educational and health care organizations — including the United Federation of Teachers, Mount Sinai Hospital, AFSCME Local 372 representing school crossing guards, and the YMCA — now has the backing of more than 30 Assembly members, 25 City Council Members and elected officials from every New York City borough, including four of New York City’s five District Attorneys’ offices. The accompanying legislation was introduced in 2016 as Assembly Bill 9861 (Glick) and Senate Bill 7776 (Peralta).
“These poll results demonstrate what has been clear to many of us – New York City residents demand that speeding motorists are held accountable for putting our children in danger around our schools,” said Assembly Member Deborah Glick. “The time has come to pass this legislation and ensure that all of our children are safe from reckless drivers, no matter what school they attend.”
State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens) said, “The survey is proof of the overwhelming support the installation of more speed cameras in school zones has. We are not just talking about the safety of our children, but also protecting pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. In 2015, more than one thousand children under the age of 17 were injured in crashes in the City. Speed cameras are a crucial tool we have to protect over one million schoolchildren in the City. The safety of our children is, and continues to be, a top priority for me, and this is why I have introduced legislation in the New York State Senate calling for the installation of speed cameras in all school zones in New York City, eliminating the current cap of 140 cameras. Under my proposal, we will also be able to extend the hours of operation of these devices, and not just turn them on during school hours. I want to thank Transportation Alternatives for its work intended to bring more safety measures to our streets and roads.”
"Each time a speeding driver barrels through school zones, it is a threat to our children's lives,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. “Speed cameras are a common sense, cost-effective measure to reduce speeding and prevent crashes.The majority of New York City voters agree that we must add speed cameras to every school zone, and I urge the State to change the law so that every child can safely cross our streets."
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said: "New York City’s speed safety cameras have proven to successfully slow down drivers near schools, but the program's unnecessarily limited number leaves more than a million of our schoolchildren unprotected. I have long advocated for the expansion of this program to all our city’s schools and to operate at all hours so that we can better protect all students, reduce crashes, and deter dangerous driving in our neighborhoods.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “There is no sense in capping safety on our streets. I have fought for speed safety cameras dating back to my tenure in the State Senate, and I am heartened that New Yorkers are making their voices heard when it comes to controlling reckless speeding in school zones. This Vision Zero measure is critical to saving the lives of innocent children and families, and I hope Governor Cuomo will heed the cries of his constituents to take action.”
“Every child, at every school, should be protected from reckless drivers,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “It’s no surprise that New Yorkers agree — more than two-thirds of City Council members have signed on to my resolution calling for an end to the cap on speed cameras. It’s time for Albany to do the right thing, lift the cap, and save children’s lives.”
"Few measures have been as successful at curbing speeding on our local streets as speed cameras," said City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "Police officers cannot stop every speeding driver in the city, it would be a major strain on resources. But we know speed cameras are a proven commodity that can save lives and induce good behavior from drivers. When even drivers agree, it's crucial that Albany get this done. We must expand the use of speed cameras in the city, especially in areas where kids are walking to and from school."
Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, said, “We strongly support legislation for more speed cameras around schools. We are proud to be part of the #EverySchool campaign as it seeks to protect all pedestrians from avoidable, speed-related traffic crashes.”
“The survey results reflect what we have been hearing from Bronx residents, that safe zones near schools are very important," said Charmaine Ruddock, Project Director for Bronx Health REACH at the Institute for Family Health. "School playgrounds, for many children, are their only neighborhood place for physical activity, and having speed safety cameras on outside of school hours enables them to safely access playgrounds even when school is closed, giving more time for physical activity."
Penn Schoen Berland conducted live telephone interviews from November 16-28, 2016 among 880 New York City likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percent.
Transportation Alternatives has been releasing responses from the Penn Schoen Berland poll, which examines New Yorkers’ views on a wide range of transportation issues, including Vision Zero street redesign elements like protected bike lanes, Citi Bike expansion, and the proposed Move New York Toll Swap Plan.