How Much Research Does Marty Golden Need to Say Yes to Speed Cameras?

State Senator Marty Golden, a former police officer and prominent Brooklyn Republican, has joined forces with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and AAA New York to oppose speed cameras. Now that Golden has succeeded in keeping them out of the state budget, he says he might be open to the idea, after all.

Sen. Marty Golden says speed cams must be "proven" to reduce speeds and injuries for the bill to pass. Luckily for him, there's some research on that. Photo: NY Senate

“If the technology is proven, if speeding is reduced and fatalities are reduced, that would be a strong reason this bill should get done,” he told the Post.

It’s unclear what Golden means by “proven,” notes Dana Rubinstein in Capital New York. Maybe a 2012 peer-reviewed meta-analysis conducted by a non-profit health research organization would be enough to convince the senator from Bay Ridge. Rubinstein explains:

After reviewing 35 studies “to assess whether the use of speed cameras reduces the incidence of speeding, road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths,” the researchers concluded that “speed cameras are a worthwhile intervention for reducing the number of road traffic injuries and deaths.”

More precisely, of the 28 studies that investigated speed cameras’ effect on crashes, “all 28 studies found a lower number of crashes in the speed camera areas after implementation of the program.”

An analysis of the speed camera program in Montgomery County, Maryland, by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that speed cams had a “halo effect,” convincing drivers to ease off the gas everywhere, not just where the cameras were installed:

Relative to comparison sites in Virginia, the proportion of drivers traveling more than 10 mph above posted speed limits declined by about 70 percent at Montgomery County locations with both warning signs and speed camera enforcement, 39 percent at locations with warning signs but no speed cameras, and 16 percent on residential streets with neither warning signs nor speed cameras.

Streetsblog has asked Sen. Golden’s office what it would take for this life-saving technology to be sufficiently “proven.” We’ll let you know if we get a reply. Previous requests for comment on speed cameras have not been returned.

Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein told Gotham Gazette that, despite not being included in the budget, speed cams will come back for debate. ”This is an issue that will come up later in the year,” he said.