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Deactivated school zone cameras catch 132,000 speeders since July 25

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The number accounts for drivers going 10 MPH or more above the speed limit through school zones from July 25 through August 10

Max Touhey

Traffic cameras have recorded more than 132,000 motorists speeding through city school zones since July 25, but the state’s failure to extend the school district speed camera program has rendered it powerless to impose fines on the offending drivers.

Mayor De Blasio responded to the newly released statistic on Monday on his weekly NY1 spot (h/t NYDN). “It’s astounding how many people speed when they think they can get away with it,” De Blasio said. The figure represents drivers who traveled through school zones 10 miles or more above the speed limit between July 25, the day the program lapsed, and August 10.

The speed cameras are the byproduct of a pilot program, enacted by New York City’s Department of Transportation in 2013 and implemented in 2014, that brought the traffic-calming measure to school zones across the city. Under the pilot program, the speed cameras were only activated on weekdays during the school year (with a one-hour buffer on either side of the school day), and during a similar window for “school activities.”

A DOT report from June 2017 noted that between 2014 and 2016, “injury crashes have dropped over 14 percent after the camera is activated, during all hours of the day, despite the fact that the cameras are deactivated during most of the year.” That same report also found that the use of traffic cameras cut speeding by 63 percent and crashes by 15 percent in school zones that use them.

Transit advocates have been pushing for the state legislature to pass a bill that would not only double the amount of school zones covered by cameras, but extend their use until 2022. The legislature failed to come to an agreement by July 25 owing to a small group of state senators that kept the legislation from being renewed.

The bill had picked up Republican support to go along with every Democrat in the Senate, which would have ensured its passage on a floor vote. However Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who conferences with Republicans, didn’t allow the bill to move beyond the Cities committee in an attempt to use it as a bargaining chip to advance his own legislation that would have put an armed police officer in front of every New York City school.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has blamed Cuomo and Democrats in the state legislature for their “unwillingness to engage senators with a larger vision for street safety to protect children.” Republican state Sen. Andrew Lanza has proposed a bill that would have ended the use of the cameras after six months and replaced them with speed bumps and red lights in every school zone; Felder and state Sen. Marty Golden, who has flip-flopped on his support for speed cameras, are co-sponsors.

Safe street activists staged a protest at the Brooklyn office of state senator Marty Golden on August 3, in an effort to pressure the state senator into getting New York state Senate President John Flanagan back in Albany to vote on a bill to expand the amount of school zones covered by speed cameras from 140 to 290.

Marco Conner, the legislative and legal director for Transportation Alternatives said that the 140 cameras in school zones led to the issuance of about 1.4 million speeding tickets in 2017 alone.