Steve Matteo and NY1: A Speed Camera Is Working, So Vision Zero Is a Scam
Speeding is the leading cause of fatal traffic crashes in New York City, and with unreliable police enforcement, cameras are essential to protecting New Yorkers from reckless drivers. Data released last summer showed that 20 speed cameras, covering a tiny fraction city streets, issued roughly as many speeding tickets in one month as NYPD did in six months.
Data also show that as drivers become accustomed to traffic cameras, law-breaking becomes less frequent. DOT says this happened after a camera was installed on Goethals Road in Staten Island, according to a report from NY1’s Amanda Farinacci. But the crux of Farinacci’s story isn’t a camera slowing drivers near an elementary school. It’s that speed cameras, and the Vision Zero initiative itself, are a money-making “scam.”
In just 15 minutes time, NY1 witnessed the speed camera flashing eight times. At that rate, it could go off more than 30 times an hour. And with a $50 fine that means it’s big bucks for the city.
Farinacci could have reported that NY1 witnessed eight drivers exceeding the speed limit by 11 or more miles per hour outside a school, and that, thanks to restrictions mandated by Albany, the penalty for those drivers would be a mere $50 each, with no license points. She could have pointed out that motorists killed at least five pedestrians in Staten Island in the last year, and noted that lower speeds save lives.
Instead, Farinacci threw in a couple of standard gripe on the street quotes from motorists who can’t imagine adhering to the new 25 miles per hour speed limit “when they’re used to driving a bit faster.” And she spoke with City Council Member Steve Matteo about the “notorious” speed camera on Goethals Road, where the posted speed is 30 mph — meaning drivers have to be traveling at least 41 mph to get a ticket. Said Matteo:
“It provides the second-most revenue of any camera in the city. And I truly believe that that’s the purpose of the speed cameras. If you want to reduce speed, there are other ways to do it.”
Since succeeding James Oddo on the council, Matteo has shown no interest in street safety. He has one of the worst records in the council on safe streets legislation, and he was one of four council members to vote against lowering the city speed limit. (Fellow Staten Island rep Vincent Ignizio was one of the other three dissenters.) Of the five pedestrian deaths in Staten Island in 2014, two victims were killed in Matteo’s district. To our knowledge he said nothing publicly about either crash.
Given the number of tickets issued by this single camera, it’s clear that speeding is a major problem in his district, at least. If Matteo has other ideas on reducing the incidence of deadly driving, Farinacci’s story would have been the perfect opportunity to tell the public what they are.