July 8, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
A robust citywide expansion of the school zone speed camera network is underway, with the Department of Transportation aiming to add thousands of cameras across all five boroughs in an attempt to curb dangerous driving near the city’s schools.
Starting later this week, the new cameras, as well as the existing ones, will be switched on for roughly twice as long each day.
The DOT has declined to disclose where the new cameras are going up. However, the agency has said that it is prioritizing those school zones with the highest crash rates and areas known for speeding.
Beginning on July 11, all installed cameras will be in operation every weekday from 6 am to 10 pm, all year-round. Previously, the school zone cameras were operated at variable hours, only being able to issue summonses to drivers during the hours that a given school was open. DOT has estimated that the extension will double the overall number of hours the cameras are active.
The launch of the lengthened hours comes as the DOT begins its rapid build out of the camera network, dramatically expanding on its five-year pilot program that covered 140 of the most dangerous school zones throughout the city.
The $62 million expansion will ensure that all 750 school zones citywide are covered by speed cameras.
Drivers caught on camera going more than 10 miles per hour above the speed limit in a school zone will be hit with a $50 ticket, mailed to the registered owner of the car. DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg has said that she expects the speed camera program to pay for itself through these fines. From the existing 140 speed cameras alone, $44 million in revenue was brought in last year.
DOT began the wave of installations earlier this year with a camera near P.S. 199 on the Upper West Side. Another covering P.S 234, P.S, 89, I.S. 289, and Stuyvesant High School in Tribeca was installed late last month. Each month for the rest of the year, 40 cameras will be installed in various school zones across the city. In 2020, the number will increase to a whopping 60 per month.
The city expects every school zone to have at least one camera by June 2020, but many zones will eventually have two or three.
“We need to make sure our roads are safe for all New Yorkers, especially for those that are the most vulnerable,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Transportation Committee. “I thank all the work that DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and the State legislature has done to ensure that our children are kept out of harms way with this massive increase in speed cameras around schools. I will continue to work alongside Speaker Corey Johnson, my colleagues, and advocates to ensure we continue to bring road security to all of New York City.”
The pilot program, launched in 2013, proved successful in saving lives, according to the DOT. During the five year run, the DOT reported a 60 percent drop in speeding infractions in school zones where the cameras had been installed, as well as a 21 percent decline in the number of people killed or severely injured in crashes in the zones.
Cash machine. Not safety.