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Queens Chronicle

Speed cameras bill passes City Council

Lawmakers want state to start a pilot program of automatic tickets

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Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:30 am, Thu Mar 28, 2013.

The City Council Transportation Committee approved a nonbinding resolution on Tuesday calling on the state to allow the installation of up to 40 cameras at high-risk intersections citywide to regulate speeding for five years, and the full Council passed it Wednesday.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), the bill’s primary sponsor, met with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), transportation safety advocate groups and several other Council members at City Hall on Monday night to announce their support for the proposed legislation.

The bill has passed the Assembly and is awaiting approval from the state Senate.

“I think that we’ve seen a number of fatalities in my district and one is too many,” Van Bramer said. “Each one is a reminder that we have to do something about this problem of speeding and reckless driving.”

According to the city Department of Transportation, which released statistics on traffic accidents at Monday’s press conference, speeding was the greatest single factor in traffic deaths in 2012, contributing to 81 fatal traffic crashes — about 30 percent of all traffic fatalities — while fatal hit-and-run fatalities increased 31 percent since 2010 to 47 last year.

The department also released a map of 100 public schools across the city where 75 percent of vehicles were found speeding within a few blocks of the building.

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan spoke at Monday’s conference, citing the dangers of unregulated speeding in areas close to schools.

“One thousand New Yorkers are alive today who would not be if we simply sustained the city’s fatality rate just one decade ago,” Sadik-Khan said. “The streets around our city’s schools are the real speed traps, and we can’t play it safe when it comes to doing everything we can to protect New Yorkers on our streets — and especially seniors and school kids.”

Although many area officials support the legislation, some say the bill would be “ineffective” and is just “revenue-driven.”

“I don’t know whether these cameras are actually going to change people’s behaviors or if it is just going to take money out of people’s pockets,” said Assemblyman Bill Scarborough (D-Jamaica). “If you don’t have any other ways to change people’s behavior, I’m not sure how successful it’s going to be.”

Robert Sinclair, media relations manager for the New York branch of the American Automobile Association, said the bill is overly flawed because it does not directly target the issue of speeding.

“Installing speed cameras does nothing to remove a drunk, reckless driver from the road,” Sinclair said. “The concept that is laid down in the legislation is a bad one because it is overly broad and would allow the city to put cameras everywhere.”

If passed, the legislation would charge speeding drivers $25 and a penalty of $50 for speeding between 10 and 30 miles above the speed limit. Those driving over 30 miles above the speed limit would be charged $100.

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