New York City is now able to operate its speed cameras 24 hours a day after Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill extending the program into law Friday morning.
Hochul, a Democrat, signed the measure extending the city’s speed-limit camera program – which had been set to expire in a week – for an additional three years, through July 1, 2025.
But under the prior state law, the city was only allowed to turn the cameras on from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays. Now, the city can turn them on 24/7.
“We know they work,” Hochul said during a bill-signing ceremony at The Clinton School in Chelsea. “We know they slow cars down, and we want that to happen. So we’re going to continue this protection all year round.”
New York City is home to some 2,000 speed cameras in up to 750 school zones throughout the five boroughs. They track a vehicle’s speed and automatically ticket the owner $50 if they exceed the speed limit by at least 10 miles per hour.
The program is authorized by a state law, meaning the state Legislature had to approve an extension by July 1 to keep it from lapsing. Lawmakers did so just before ending their annual legislative session earlier this month.
Earlier versions of the bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, would have included tougher penalties for repeat violators, including a license suspension for those hit with a sixth ticket.
Supporters of the measure, including safe streets advocates, say the cameras improve pedestrian safety by ensuring vehicles slow down in areas trafficked by students. Opponents of speed cameras and red-light cameras write them off as a way to raise revenue for the city.
Glick said the cash-grab criticism is nonsense.
“The city isn’t in the car with you,” she said. “The city isn’t controlling your foot on the accelerator. If you don’t want to get a ticket, don’t speed. It’s pretty simple.”
The bill was a priority of Mayor Eric Adams, who – like mayors before him – often has to turn to Albany for approval of major initiatives.
“Some people thought cameras were a way of being punitive, when it was not,” Adams said. “It was a deterrent. Because once you get that one ticket, you’re not going to do it again.”
Among those who spoke at the bill-signing was Amy Cohen, co-founder of Families for Safe Streets and an advocate for the speed-camera program. She lost her 12-year-old son, Sammy Cohen Eckstein, when he was struck by a commercial van while playing outside their Park Slope apartment in 2013.
“We will change the culture of reckless driving by changing laws and policies,” Cohen said. “We need to end the pain and suffering.”
She continued: “Today, we celebrate. But we will always demand more.”