Lawmakers propose bills to expand speed camera program
by Benjamin Fang
Apr 15, 2016 | 6979 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Senator Jose Peralta, center, and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, in the back, proposed a series of legislation that would expand the speed camera program.
State Senator Jose Peralta, center, and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, in the back, proposed a series of legislation that would expand the speed camera program.
In the aftermath of the hit-and-run death of 17-year-old Ovidio Jaramillo, who was struck and killed last December at the intersection of Junction and Northern boulevards, community leaders and elected officials are calling for additional safety measures.

State Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker proposed a package of bills that would expand the speed camera program in school zones and have them operational for the entire day, as well as suspend the registration for a car that racks up five camera violations in a year.

“Speed, as we know, is a leading cause of fatal crashes,” Peralta said. “These bills will be the basic tools for speed enforcement.”

The series of legislation come on the heels of two recent traffic-related deaths, one in the Bronx and one in Astoria. In Astoria, a 45-year-old man was also struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver.

The first bill, proposed by Peralta, would eliminate any time restrictions on speed cameras currently installed in school zones. Right now, those cameras only operate during school hours, including an hour before and after the school day. They also operate half an hour before and after school activities.

Peralta said he hopes to make the cameras operational during nights and weekends, too.

“It’s not logical to turn them off,” he said.

He said according to the Department of Transportation (DOT), 85 percent of serious injuries and fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

“That’s exactly what happened to Mr. Jaramillo,” Peralta said.

The legislation would also make the speed camera program at school zones permanent. The state legislature originally authorized the pilot program at 140 locations to run from 2013 until 2018.

Since the installation of the speed cameras in 2014, 945,000 speeding tickets were issued by September 2015, according to Peralta, averaging out to about 192 violations per day. Since September, the number has decreased to 69 violations a day.

Peralta cited these statistics as proof that the cameras are deterring people from speeding.

“Speed cameras deter most drivers from speeding, whether it’s because they’re afraid of points on their license or because they’re afraid of the fines,” Peralta said. “Our goal is to ensure that this legislation saves lives and makes streets safer for everyone.”

Last year, motorists killed 129 pedestrians out of 238 total traffic-related deaths. More than 10,000 pedestrians were also injured by traffic incidents. In 2014, there were 11,000 traffic-related injuries and 133 pedestrians killed.

The state senator also introduced a bill that would expand the program to all school zones citywide, removing the 140-location cap that was previously in place.

“Now imagine what we can do when we have speed cameras in all school zone areas,” he said. “We will protect over 1 million New York City students and all New Yorkers across the city.”

DenDekker also proposed legislation that would suspend the registration of a car for six months after it has been issued five or more speed camera violations in a year. Those include red light camera violations and bus lane violations.

The suspension would begin five days after the liability notice for the fifth violation has been mailed.

“One of the concerns I’ve always had about speed cameras is that we couldn’t hold a driver accountable,” DenDekker said. “We are still not holding anyone specifically responsible other than a $50 ticket that we’re putting in the mail.”

DenDekker said while the driver wouldn’t necessarily be held responsible, the owner of the car would.

“The owner of the car, if they’re allowing someone else to use it, will have to take more responsibility to make sure the people that are driving their registered car will drive it in a safe manner,” he said. “Or else they won’t have a car to let anyone use anymore because we’ll take it off the road.”

Peralta said he hopes the bills will be passed by the end of this year’s session, which finishes in mid-June.

“Allow this to be a warning that we are watching, we are pushing legislation forward and it will become a reality,” Peralta said. “You have been warned.”

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