If Marty Golden Had a Conscience, He’d Support the Speed Cams That Propelled NYC Traffic Deaths to Record Lows

You can't talk about NYC's success in mitigating traffic carnage without talking about speed cameras. We can't go back.

Sammy Cohen Eckstein. Photo: Families for Safe Streets
Sammy Cohen Eckstein. Photo: Families for Safe Streets

Right now, members of Families for Safe Streets are staging a 24-hour vigil outside the Bay Ridge office of State Senator Marty Golden. They don’t want any more New Yorkers to feel the pain of losing someone to traffic violence, and they know that unless Golden helps get a speed camera bill through Albany soon, more people will die.

Golden has a few personal incentives not to act. The cameras have issued several hundred dollars in fines directly to him, and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the police union that constitutes the only organized opposition to speed cameras, helps keep his campaign account flush.

Does Golden’s conscience trouble him? It should.

According to NYPD data, NYC is on pace for fewer than 200 annual traffic fatalities for the first time ever, if current trends hold. As of June 24, traffic deaths were down nearly 16 percent compared to this time last year.

Speed cameras are a big reason New York has been able to sustain this type of improvement for several years running while traffic fatalities soar in the rest of the nation.

Speeding is the leading cause of fatal crashes in the city. But since the first speed cameras went live in 2013, pedestrian deaths have declined by 45 percent. While factors like DOT street redesigns also contribute to this improvement, the speed camera program is undeniably effective. In areas with cameras, speeding drops 63 percent, and pedestrian injuries fall 23 percent.

If the cameras go dark, NYPD isn’t going to pick up that slack. During the program’s first full year of operation, a paltry 20 cameras outpaced the entire department in policing deadly speeding.

The very effectiveness of traffic cameras explains why someone like Marty Golden, literally one of the most dangerous drivers in NYC, wants to get rid of them. He can’t get out of a camera fine with a flash of his parking placard and a fist bump.

Governor Cuomo’s staff said he’d do whatever he could to advance legislation to extend and expand the program this year. After Golden and Senate Republicans failed to pass the bill, however, the other side of Cuomo’s face spoke up and said New Yorkers should rely on stop signs to keep their children alive instead.

But NYC didn’t reduce traffic deaths with stop signs. We can’t go back.

To keep the pressure on, call Golden at 718-238-6044. Cuomo’s number is 518-474-8390.