One new campaign aims to provide the solution needed to make sure every child is safe on New York City streets.
Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets — a group made up of New Yorkers who have lost loved ones or have been injured in traffic crashes — introduced Thursday morning the #EverySchool campaign.
Through the campaign, advocates and parents are calling for speed safety cameras to be installed for over 2,000 New York City schools.
“Unfortunately being struck by a speeding motor vehicle is still the leading cause of preventable injury and death for New York City kids and that’s a huge problem, but we know the solution,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Speed safety cameras are saving kids’ lives.”
Currently there are 140 speed cameras installed throughout the city, which issue $50 tickets to drivers who go more than 10 mph over the speed limit of 25 mph.
Since having the cameras installed, White added, speeding has been down 60 percent in the areas in which the cameras cover with over 1 million tickets issued by the cameras. However, speeding still continues to be the leading cause for children under 14.
According to Transportation Alternatives, 93 percent of city schools do not have speed safety cameras.
Along with calling for more cameras, the campaign also urged the need to have the cameras turned on 24 hours a day — currently the cameras only work 60 hours a week. The organization added that more than 50 percent of fatal crashes occurred between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. — when the cameras are prevented from operating.
New York State first approved the pilot program for 20 speed cameras in 2013 and last year the Assembly and Senate voted to expand the program to a total of 140 cameras.
Advocates called on Albany lawmakers to approve on Thursday morning less than an hour before traffic safety experts were about to gather for Transportation Alternatives’ Vision Zero Cities 2016 Conference.
“If this were a vaccine and we knew that administering this vaccine to all kids would lead to a 60 percent reduction in the cause of mortality for our children, there would be no debate, there would be no politics,” White said. “There would be an urgency to apply this life saving tool so that every kid in New York City is protected.”
For Amy Cohen, who lost her 12-year-old son Sammy over two years ago after he was struck by a vehicle on their Brooklyn street, speed cameras would a critical way to enforce the new speed limit — and actually make a difference.
“I know all too well the difference five miles per hour can make. It is the difference between life and death,” Cohen said while holding up a photo of her son. “My son Sammy and our family are in the horrible side of the equation.”
Cohen added that more than a year after her son was fatally struck, a five-year-old boy was hit by a vehicle in the exact location but because the driver was going at only 25 mph, the boy suffered only minor injuries even after being tossed a car lane’s length away.
“When New York City lowered its speed limit from 30 to 25 mph it doubled the chance of survival for pedestrians hit by a motor vehicle,” Cohen said. “A $50 fine is a minor quick price for New Yorkers to pay to change the culture of driving on our streets and protect every New York City school child.”
The groups will continue to work with elected officials and will once again take their campaign to Albany to stress the importance of the speed cameras.
And for those who say it is unfair to ticket motorists who are caught speeding near city schools, White had one message: “Then don’t speed near New York City schools.”