New York City looks to stop speeders with 24-hour operation of street cameras

File photo/Mark Hallum

The de Blasio administration is seeking approval from Albany legislators before session comes to an end for speed cameras to be in operation 24/7 to curb an epidemic of speeding.

The other pandemic — COVID-19 — being the primary cause of an uptick in speeding due to fewer cars on the road and drag racing in many parts of the city.

Ed Pincar, Manhattan borough commissioner for the Department of Transportation acknowledged Tuesday that the increase in speeding as a loophole in the current law allowing the city’s use of up 700 speed cameras particularly in school zones.

“To fix this loophole simply to address the disturbing trend of speeding, we need New York City’s speed cameras to be on at all times,” Pincar said. “We saw this year that overnight and weekends are the times when drivers are really driving recklessly, and we need a wall that will allow us to reach those drivers and protect us. We already know that speed cameras change dangerous behaviors.”

According to Pincar, up 75% of roadway fatalities occur in sections of the city where speed cameras are in place but not in operation at the time of the crash.

The speed camera program currently in place was hard won by Albany legislators representing the five boroughs in 2018 when Republicans, who held a firm majority in the senate, argued for more signage instead of funding camera equipment.

Currently, speed cameras are only in operation from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays.

In August, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state law enforcement would be cracking down on speeding while he instructed local police to do the same.

Unsafe speed was found to be a contributing factor in 34% of fatal crashes between January and May of 2020 compared to 30% during the same period the year before. This data came from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, part of the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College.

“Speed limits are not a suggestion, they are the law and they save lives,” Cuomo said at the time. “There is no excuse for driving at high speeds – it’s unnecessary and endangers everyone on the road — and I urge New Yorkers to be smart and slow down because it’s not worth risking lives to save a few seconds on your next commute or trip to the store.”