NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Drivers who speed in school zones better watch out.
Lawmakers have come up with a plan to restore speed cameras near New York City schools, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported Monday.
The state and city teamed up to take the emergency action to assure cameras are catching speeding drivers just in time for the first day of New York City public schools on Sept. 5.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo credited the strength of advocates who had been fighting to make it happen.
To some, the decision was the only one to make.
It has been nearly five years since 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein was hit and killed by a van while walking home from school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His mother, Amy Cohen, turned her pain into power with the group “Families For Safe Streets,” fighting to keep speed cameras in school zones.
“His friends just all graduated high school and left this week for college and he got left behind,” Amy Cohen said. “It’s still with us for the rest of our lives. We miss him every day.”
“We have an epidemic. This is a vaccine,” Amy Cohen added. “It saves lives and it’s about time people put politics aside.”
Speed enforcement cameras were put in 140 school zones in New York City to crack down on dangerous driving.
The cameras outside the Razi School in Woodside, Queens, were credited with a 60 percent reduction in speeding on the stretch of Queens Boulevard since they were installed.
But it has been about a month since speed cameras went dark, when legislators couldn’t agree on the cameras versus other enforcement methods such as stop signs and more police enforcement. Failing to renew the law by the end of their session, legislators went home.
“They are putting politics before public safety,” Gov. Cuomo said prior to the program being brought back. “I never believed they would be this irresponsible, this tone deaf where they would actually jeopardize young lives to this extent. School opens next week. That is gonna drastically increase the potential for loss of life if the speed cameras are not operational.”
Then on Monday the governor took emergency action with an executive order to reinstate the state law by the first day of school. In order for this to be possible, the city has to vote on its own bill this week, which Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to do. The governor credited collaborative work with de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to get the speed cameras back up and running.
But mostly, he thanked people like Amy Cohen for not giving up.
“Because of your actions and actions today lives may be saved,” the governor said.
“Today we are celebrating this life-saving step forward,” Cohen said.
This is not a replacement of the current law — more so a temporary fix. The state Senate still has to come back and renew the law in order for it to be permanent, DeAngelis reported.
The city council is planning to discuss reactivating ticketing this week, the day before school starts.