Photo Courtesy of Sen. Peralta’s Office
“The school zone speed camera program saved countless of lives, so there is no logical reason to let it expire,” Sen. Peralta said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
New York pols recently ramped up calls demanding that the State Senate reconvene for a special session and vote for the renewal and expansion of the school-zone speed camera program.
The Upper Chamber, in the legislative session that just ended last month, failed to renew a pilot program that put 140 cameras around city schools across the five boroughs. As of July 25, the devices will be shut off.
Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) on Thursday led a small rally at the intersection of Northern and Junction boulevards urging his Republican colleagues to return to Albany and pass his bill that would add 150 speed-monitoring devices to the current 140 cameras operating under the pilot that was approved by the Legislature in 2013.
Under Peralta’s measure, 290 speed cameras will operate within a quarter-mile from a designated school. The devices would initiate recording one hour before the start of each school day, and cease recording one hour after it ends. Additionally, the cameras will be operational during students’ activities, and up to 30 minutes prior to and 30 minutes after the activities, Peralta noted.
“Are Republicans against protecting children? The school zone speed camera program saved countless lives, so there is no logical reason to let it expire. We cannot play politics with schoolchildren and New Yorker’s lives, and this is why we must ensure we renew and expand the program,” Peralta said. “If the Republicans let this initiative expire, kids in summer school will travel to and from school on more dangerous streets. The same will occur when more than one million schoolchildren return to school after the summer vacation.”
Last month, two GOP State senators proposed legislation that would require the City to install stop signs and traffic lights—instead of cameras—in more than 1,000 school zones in the five boroughs.
Peralta did not appreciate the effort.
“Playing political games with the lives of more than one million schoolchildren is intolerable. The Republican proposal to replace speed cameras with stop signs and lights is nothing but a massive distraction. The senators behind this political trick don’t fool me and they don’t fool any New Yorker,” Peralta said in June. “The City’s school-zone speed camera program works and it has saved and continues to save lives. Let’s stop with these senseless calculated maneuvers, and extend and expand the program.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who supports the expansion of the pilot program, called it “unconscionable that the Senate put politics over protecting our children” and bolted the capital without approving Peralta’s proposal.
“The lives and safety of our children are not partisan issues, and I call on the Senate to return to Albany and pass this common sense bill to prevent tragedies and heartbreak,” Cuomo said on Friday. “The clock is ticking for the Senate Republicans to do the right thing—and New York families will remember how they act.”
According to Peralta, the program has been “extremely successful.” He noted on Thursday that at locations with cameras, there has been a 63-percent decline in speeding violations; the vast majority of drivers ticketed—more than 80 percent—have not receive a second violation; and injuries to pedestrians have decreased by 23 percent at locations where cameras are posted.