When I was in eighth grade, a driver killed my friend Sammy on his way home from school. A few months later, a hit-and-run driver killed my classmate Joie. Shortly after I started high school, another hit-and-run driver killed my classmate Mohammad.
Since then, New York City got permission from the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put up speed-safety cameras near schools, with the goal of reducing speeding and preventing deadly crashes.
The program, launched in 2014, is working. In the school zones where the city is allowed to place speed-safety cameras, injuries are down and speeding itself has dropped by 63 percent. But right now, only 140 schools are protected by speed-safety cameras, even though there are more than 2,000 schools in NYC. That’s only 7 percent of schools.
That’s not even the bad news. Very soon, zero percent of schools in NYC could be protected by speed-safety cameras. Lawmakers in Albany are deciding whether to extend the program, which expires at the end of this month. The pending legislation would double the number of cameras protecting schools.
Safeguarding kids near schools seems like something that would be hard to vote against. But strangely enough, some people think using cameras to enforce the speed limit is unfair. Unfair how? Motorists can get a summons only if they are caught driving at least 11 mph over the limit during school hours — that’s 36 mph and above. That’s way too fast to be driving near schools anyway.
It’s unfair that the cameras protecting kids like me today will be turned off unless lawmakers take action.
I say: Enough! I am not going to wait around for more of my friends to be killed. On Thursday, kids from across the city who are as angry as I am are piling into school buses and going to the governor’s office in Manhattan. We need his leadership. New York State leaders need to let us keep the speed cameras, and install more.
Our lives are at stake, and we simply cannot wait any longer.
Alison Collard de Beaufort is a senior at Brooklyn Technical
High School and is the founder of the Vision Zero Youth Council.