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Statement from Assemblymember Reilly on announcement that the City of New York would seek authorization to further expand their egregious and illegal speed camera program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 22, 2020
CONTACT: Peter Giunta, 347.621.8031

The following statement is from Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) on today’s announcement from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that the City of New York would seek authorization from the New York State Legislature to further expand the New York City Speed Camera Program…

“I have long argued that the New York City Speed Camera Program was an egregious attempt by New York City politicians to cover the cost of wasteful government spending hidden within the city budget, but today’s announcement from Mayor de Blasio is purely the definition of a money grab.  I don’t know how anyone, Republican or Democrat, could support a supposed “safety” program like this one when it has become so blatantly obvious that revenue generation is a more important objective than saving lives.

Traffic fatalities reached a record high this year, even with fewer vehicles on the road as a result of the COVID-19 related lockdown, yet the Mayor claims that this is a result of the state’s current authorization for the program being too restrictive.  It is important to remember that the State Legislature just voted in 2019 to expand the speed camera program, authorizing the placement of as many as 750 cameras throughout New York City — which is part of the law that we have already confirmed that the City of New York is in violation of. (https://bit.ly/3rkVfTy)

We routinely hear from the Mayor and Department of Transportation flaks who recite arbitrary statistics in an attempt to prove the effectiveness of the city’s speed camera program — but are those numbers being taken out of context?  One claim is that two-thirds of drivers who received a speed camera violation in 2019 did not receive a second one.  I wonder whether the Department of Transportation is being honest about this — are they making this claim based on the overall number of license plates that received a violation in 2019, or is it the average of each individual camera?

I have proposed legislation since last year to make the speed camera program more transparent and fairer to motorists, as well as to hold city officials accountable.  A. 08569, which I introduced last year (https://bit.ly/2M12HTL), would require the Department of Transportation to provide enhanced notice that a speed camera is being used for enforcement by placing a yellow and white sign no more than 50 feet from the speed camera unit.  Despite meeting with then-Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to discuss this legislation, it was clear that the agency had no intention of reconsidering the placement of their signage, future or present.

I question how any elected representative in the City of New York could think of expanding this program without first asking themselves how they can make it fairer for all New Yorkers —  which is why I will vehemently lobby my colleagues in Albany this session to oppose any legislative effort that aims to expand the city’s speed camera program.  In the coming weeks I plan on introducing legislation that will make the city’s operation of the speed camera program more transparent.  This legislation will require the New York City Department of Finance’s Notice of Violation to the registered owner to include the location that the speed camera is covering as well as its distance from the school; the location of the “photo enforced” signage and its distance from the speed camera; and, finally, the date and time of both the annual manual-test and self-test calibrations.

The bottom line is that these reforms do not require legislative action to be implemented.  Mayor de Blasio and city agencies such as the Department of Transportation can take action right now to make the speed camera program fairer for city residents — but clearly they lack the will to be accountable.”

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