The New York Daily News published an op-ed this morning by Transportation Alternatives‘ Paul Steely White and Tri-State Transportation Campaign‘s Veronica Vanterpool. Here is the piece in its entirety:
The ticket to stopping city traffic deaths
Speed cameras on our streets will catch reckless drivers
By Paul Steely White and Veronica Vanterpool
We don’t yet know whether Julio Acevedo was drunk when he rammed his car into expectant parents Raizel and Nachman Glauber and ended their lives, or whether he was escaping gunfire, as he claims (cops are skeptical of that assertion). But what we do know is that he was driving at 60 mph — twice the legal speed limit — when he killed the Glaubers.
A simple innovation exists that could prevent similar tragedies in the future. All it needs to come to New York is a simple vote from Albany.
The fact is, many drivers at that time of night on Kent Ave. in Brooklyn also drive at illegal and dangerous speeds — even those who aren’t drunk or (maybe) being shot at. And while cops writing tickets will certainly help, it’s not a viable long-term solution. Nor are localized street improvements like speed bumps, stop signs and traffic lights.
Meanwhile, people keep dying. Speeding drivers are the No. 1 cause of fatal crashes. One in four people killed in traffic are killed by speeding drivers.
In just the past three months, the following deadly incidents have taken place around the city:
– In Gravesend, Brooklyn, a speeding driver killed Chenugor Dao while sending seven others to the hospital.
– In Parkchester, the Bronx, the driver who killed Amanda Garcia was driving so fast the crash ruptured the car’s gas tank.
– In Kips Bay, Manhattan, a speeding driver killed Mir Hossain while he stood next to his taxi, throwing his body down the block.
– In Jamaica, Queens, a driver threw Maria Beria’s body the length of three cars, killing her.
– In Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, Jonathan Sade sped through a traffic light, killing Andre Capers-Jones, Leonora Lavaud and himself.
– In East Tremont, the Bronx, a driver killed a 55-year-old man, throwing him 20 feet.
What can be done to prevent the next tragedy?
Many major cities around the U.S. — Washington, Chicago, Phoenix — use speed cameras to supplement police enforcement. These cameras measure the speed of cars, just like a cop with a radar gun would. If a person is speeding, his or her license plate number is recorded by the camera and a speeding ticket is automatically sent to the violator.
Signs announcing that a speed camera is at work on a street would act as a deterrent — just as a parked police cruiser might.
When speed cameras are in place, drivers speed less frequently and fewer people are killed. Analysis indicates that speed cameras can reduce a city’s traffic death and serious-injury rate by 30% to 40% — and some do much better. In New York City, that would translate to hundreds of lives saved and broken bones averted every year.
There is a bill in the state Legislature that, if passed, will allow New York City to test a version of the speed camera program that has proven successful in other cities.
The fines would be mild — a fraction of a typical speeding ticket, with no points or insurance consequences.
The cameras would be placed near schools and senior centers, on roads with bad crash histories — not on highways or in isolated areas. Tickets would only be issued if the driver violates the speed limit by more than 10 mph. And the privacy of lawful drivers would be protected.
Unfortunately, the speed camera bill has not been approved in Albany, because everything in Albany takes too much time. Critics claim that the city is just trying to raise revenue off drivers, but this is not a matter of dollars and cents — this is a matter of life and death.
The fact is, we know how to prevent more accidents like the one that killed the Glauber family. Albany must vote to allow New York City to test a speed camera program now. Politics cannot trump safety.
White is executive director of Transportation Alternatives. Vanterpool is executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.