Are New York’s Speed Cameras Reducing Crashes?

School Zone Speed Limit Sign
New York’s installation of speed cameras in school zones has caused controversy as citizens argue that they are a cash grab for the City. (Photo Source: Wikipedia)

Cameras used to enforce traffic laws have drawn a lot of attention in the press recently. Both red light and speed cameras are being justified by politicians as safety measures, but these cameras have stirred up controversy. New York’s traffic camera program is drawing much scrutiny and New Jersey’s has actually hit a dead end when the program was not renewed in 2014.

Speed cameras in New York City were initially introduced as part of the Vision Zero program, a program created with a primary goal of eliminating pedestrian and traffic deaths.  The city was authorized by Governor Cuomo and the State Assembly to place up to 140 cameras within the city. These cameras must meet certain requirements: they must be posted within a quarter mile of a school zone, and must operate only on school days and during school hours.

While well intentioned, motorists have argued that the tickets are merely a ploy to generate revenue for the City. And they have – traffic cameras generated approximately $23 million in fines last year alone. Opponents of these cameras also draw attention to the location of the cameras – stating that some have been placed in locations that are not frequented by children. Proponents of the program, however, remind us that since it takes a while for drivers to slow down, cameras are often placed some distance away from the areas frequented by pedestrians.

Irrespective of any underlying financial motives, new data appears to show that cameras appeared to have actually increases traffic safety. The I-Team in collaboration with NBC 4 New York partner WNYC, after diligently going through tickets issued last year, assessed the impact of this program.  They found that the average monthly number of tickets (at fixed camera locations) declined between September and December – this, the team reported, indicated that fewer people were breaking the law.

Additionally, cameras also appear to be reducing crashes – citing a 3.9% decline. (This goes against a previous study in Chicago, where red light cameras actually increased rear end collisions.) As speeding is often cited as a primary cause in traffic accidents, assuring all drivers are following the posted speed limits will improve the overall safety. A driver ticketed for speeding by a fixed camera at a certain location will likely use more caution while traversing that road again. Taking this data further, it appears as if placing cameras in additional locations will prevent drivers from committing traffic offenses. Consider this – would you run a red light if you knew for certain that you would get a ticket for doing so?

If you have been issued a ticket, you need experienced legal representation. Call us for a free consultation at 888-434-0406.

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