With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Hochul on Friday cleared the way for New York City’s traffic cameras to operate around the clock, marking a major victory for safe street advocates who have long pressed for 24/7 enforcement against reckless drivers.
The cameras, which operate in school zones, were previously only permitted to be kept on between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on school days, but a bill signed into law by Hochul on Friday morning gives the green light for them to stay on at all hours.
“New Yorkers don’t just deserve safe streets at certain hours of the day,” Hochul said after signing the bill at the Clinton School in Manhattan. “We need to use every tool at our disposal, and far too many of our children have been killed by cars to not reauthorize and expand this life-saving program.”
Mayor Adams, who attended the signing ceremony and has long advocated for expanding the city’s traffic camera program, also argued that 24/7 enforcement will save lives and pointed to data showing that rates of speeding is significantly lower in monitored areas.
“People thought that cameras were a way of being punitive. It was not. It was a way of deterrence,” he said.
Around-the-clock camera enforcement is expected to officially roll out in the coming months, said a city Department of Transportation spokesman. First, the department needs to expand staff and build up a structure for effectively carrying out the program, the spokesman added.
Fines will remain at $50 for camera violations, including running red lights and speeding.
The bill signed by Hochul extends the expanded traffic camera program for three years.
Adams’ team had initially pushed the state Legislature to permanently hand over control of the cameras to the city, but that effort failed, in part because the mayor’s transportation secretary bungled a meeting with lawmakers on the matter last month, as first reported by the Daily News.
According to data from City Hall, the speeding rate in areas with camera monitoring was 72% lower during hours of operation in December 2020. The data also shows that speeding rates increased during the overnight hours when the cameras were turned off.
The city has seen a rash of horrific traffic deaths in recent months, with Department of Transportation data showing fatalities spiked by 44% in the first three months of 2022 as compared to the same period last year.
Amy Cohen, co-founder of the advocacy group Families for Safe Streets, lost her 12-year-old son to traffic violence in 2013. She praised Hochul for enacting the 24/7 camera enforcement bill.
“Losing a loved one to horrific traffic violence is something no other New York family should go through. The pain is indescribable,” Cohen said. “That is why we work tirelessly to enact policies that will end traffic violence. 24/7 speed cameras will prevent more innocent lives lost on our street.”
With Clayton Guse