In 2014, New York City launched Vision Zero, a citywide initiative to create safer streets for pedestrians. Annually, an estimated 3,000 New Yorkers are subject to serious traffic-related injuries, and about 200 pedestrians are killed. Vision Zero has used a variety of resources to reduce these figures, including the recent expansion of speed cameras across the five boroughs.
Speed cameras were installed in school zones to capture speeding vehicles and discourage dangerous driving. In 2014, 100 cameras were used during school hours, effectively reducing speeding in school zones by more than 60 percent.
Due to the initial success of the program, more speed cameras have been installed over the past 6 years. Mayor de Blasio announced last month that the Department of Transportation (DOT) reached its goal for the summer of 2020, implementing 950 cameras in 750 school zones. NYC now has the largest speed camera network in the world.
The city has reached the maximum number of zones where cameras can be implemented, according to state legislation that became effective in 2019. However, there is an opportunity to place multiple cameras within these zones. By the end of 2021, the city’s goal is to have 2,000 cameras within these areas. In addition to increasing the number of cameras, operating hours have expanded. Cameras are now even in use during holidays and summer vacation. This flexibility allows DOT to collect data to prioritize camera locations where high rates of speeding and pedestrian KSIs (killed or severely injured) occur.
Speed cameras, along with the other initiatives of Vision Zero, have contributed to a decrease in traffic fatalities over the years, reaching a new all-time low of 202 deaths in 2018. Now, with the most extensive speed camera system in the world, NYC has become an international leader in street safety.
Now more than ever, the presence of speed cameras is vital. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic NYC streets were empty, leaving an enticing opportunity for reckless drivers. “With traffic volume so much lower, people just unfortunately find themselves speeding”, stated DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. According to Commissioner Trottenberg, speed cameras this year have issued roughly one and a half times the number of tickets than anticipated.
The expanding speed camera network has reduced speeding and traffic fatalities dramatically in recent years. However, while the DOT’s plans for next year include quicker installation of cameras, it will unfortunately not be enough to reduce our traffic fatalities to zero. We look forward to seeing DOT and the Mayor’s plans to expand and invest further in Vision Zero to help reach that goal.