Council Passes Resolution Asking Albany for Speed Cams; Will Senate Say Yes?

This afternoon, the City Council passed a resolution asking Albany to move forward with legislation allowing New York City to install a speed camera demonstration program.

The driver who killed the Glauber family in Williamsburg was traveling at nearly 70 mph -- more than double the speed limit. Photo: Shimon Gifter via AP

Speed cameras are supported by the City Council, Mayor Bloomberg, NYC DOT, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and a majority of the city’s Assembly delegation.

The program is opposed by State Senator Marty Golden and the Police Benevolent Association, who say that speed cameras are not a substitute for officers with radar guns. Other elected officials have pointed out that cameras and officers are not mutually exclusive.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has included speed cameras in the Assembly budget. The program could be enacted through budget legislation, if it survives ongoing negotiations with Governor Cuomo and Senate leadership.

If not, separate legislation enabling the speed camera program must pass the Assembly and Senate before going to Cuomo.

More than 125 jurisdictions across the country use speed cameras, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. New York City’s program would be limited to no more than 20 cameras in operation at any given time, with a cap of 40 cameras deployed citywide. Fines would not exceed $50 for driving 10-30 mph over the speed limit, and not more than $100 for speeding more than 30 mph over the limit.

Before today’s vote, Council Member Dan Halloran said that automated enforcement is motivated by a thirst for money. “Believe me, this mayor will make it all about revenue and we’ll all pay the price,” he said, adding that he does not trust the existing red light camera program.

Council Members Gale Brewer, Robert Jackson, Stephen Levin, and Jimmy Van Bramer spoke in support of speed cameras before the resolution passed. “This is not about money,” Jackson said, noting the danger of speeding drivers in his district.

“The fact of the matter is that speeding in New York City kills people,” Levin said, referencing the speeding driver who killed the Glauber family in his district. ”We have a problem in this city in the amount of enforcement that we do on speeding.”

The council also passed on voice vote a resolution asking Albany to close a loophole in Hayley and Diego’s Law, encouraging NYPD to enforce the state’s careless driving law even if an officer does not personally witness a violation but has reasonable cause to issue a citation.