Slowing Down, In Time for School

| 08 Sep 2015 | 05:11

As students fight off the growing nerves of the first day of school, parents and staff at 140 New York City schools can celebrate the Department of Transportation’s efforts to pass legislation that has allowed for the installation of speed cameras within a quarter mile of any school.

“We are thrilled that these cameras are going in,” said George Davison, head of Grace Church School, a private school near NYU that will be covered by the new cameras. “The only thing that we can do that will really make a difference in safety is slow everybody down.”

Davison spoke during a news conference touting the cameras that was attended by DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Thomas Chan, chief of transportation for the NYPD.

The cameras are one component of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s broader Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic fatalities in the city. Other measures already underway include reducing the speed limit citywide to 25 m.p.h and banning cars from much of Central Park.

The speed cameras work like this; cameras are installed within a quarter mile of a school’s doors and only operate on school days, and work within the time frame of one hour before class starts until one hour following the end of the day. When a vehicle is caught speeding, a $50 ticket is issued to the car’s owner, but the traffic offense will not result in penalties on a driver licenses or their insurance.

“Speed cameras located near schools around the five boroughs will deter speeding and protect children as they travel to and from school everyday,” said Trottenberg.

To date there are 140 speed camera locations in the greater New York City area, 40 being mobile units that can be moved and deployed throughout the city. According to the DOT, last September, the cameras resulted in an average of 192 violations per day for each camera; by this August, that number had dropped to 69 violations per camera per day -- proof, the department says, that the initiative is working.

Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, encouraged community members to be, “looking at these cameras as really vaccinations for our kids, that will prevent needless loss of life, needless injury” and not cause for more revenue.