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Guest op-ed: Why we need speed safety cameras now

For the last two years, family members of those lost to traffic violence, as well as those who have suffered from life-altering injuries, have gone to Albany to plead for the expansion of New York City’s speed safety camera program, which today covers only seven percent of schools.

This year it has to pass.

I was elected to the New York City Council with the responsibility to represent my district, and protecting our most vulnerable people is my most important duty.

Traffic crashes are the number one cause of injury-related death for children in New York City. Data from the NYPD shows that speeding kills more New Yorkers than drunk driving and distracted driving combined.

An expanded speed safety camera program ought to be a bigger part of the solution: The cameras have reduced speeding violations by an average of 63 percent at the few locations where they have been installed.

Yet despite knowing the dangers of speeding, despite knowing how to stop it, 93 percent of our students don’t have speed safety cameras near their schools.

My district alone has over 20 schools, and some of the most dangerous streets in Brooklyn. We have three Vision Zero priority corridors and two Vision Zero priority intersections.

Go to any parent association meeting and you’ll learn that speeding is an epidemic throughout the district, from Colonial Road to Cropsey Avenue.   

The families of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst need to be able to walk or bike to school safely without cars and trucks roaring past them at excessive, dangerous speeds.

It seems silly that this even needs to be said. This should be common sense.

Sadly, though, common sense and Albany rarely meet. While the City Council passed home rule legislation last year calling for the expansion of speed safety cameras, it couldn’t survive in Albany because leaders in the State Senate put politics over saving lives.

The evidence is irrefutable: speed safety cameras make our school zones safer. So there is no excuse to let another year pass while the city is forced to choose which school in the 43rd District to protect, and which schools not to.

We need to expand speed safety cameras to of New York City’s 2,000-plus schools and keep them on throughout the day, not just during school hours.

Please call your local state senator and urge him or her to support this lifesaving legislation now!

Councilmember Justin Brannan represents the 43rd Council District and is a Lindsay Fellow at the City University of New York.

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