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New York City Transportation Officials Propose 24/7 Camera Operations To Combat Apparent Speeding Epidemic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is launching new initiatives to get drivers to slow down. Among them, proposed changes to speed camera laws.

The Department of Transportation on Tuesday morning announced proposed amendments and more enforcement in New York City.

Officials said traffic fatalities among drivers and motorcyclists are way up this year, and that's why new enforcement measures to deter speeding are necessary now, CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported.

The city said a look at fatal crashes in 2020 shows 36% of all traffic deaths that were not on highways occurred where cameras are located, but happened during hours when they were not operating. Meanwhile, speeding was reduced by more than 70% at locations that have cameras.

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DOT and NYPD officials said that data has spurred a new push to combat what they call a deadly speeding epidemic.

Right now, cameras can only be in effect on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., but the DOT wants them in operation 24/7, including on weekends, adding there is strong evidence speed cameras reduce speeding and casualties.

"The administration will be seeking a legislative change in Albany to fix this loophole. Simply, to address the disturbing trend of speeding, we need New York City's speed cameras to be on at all times. We saw this year that overnight and weekends are the time when drivers are really driving recklessly," DOT Senior Borough Commissioner Edward Pincar Jr. said.

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"We do not need any more tragedies this year, especially during the holiday season, and, as always, the NYPD will be deployed throughout our entire city to make sure that everyone is safe on our highways and local streets," NYPD Transportation Chief Kim Royster added.

"They change behavior. They work," Mayor de Blasio said of speed cameras.

Drivers had mixed reactions to the proposal.

"It's more of a money grab and I feel like if there's not a lot of traffic in the nighttime it should be OK for drivers to go a little faster," one person said.

"It'll be less accidents and less drama on the streets, so it'll definitely be a good thing," another person said.

Amy Cohen lost her 12-year-old son, Sammy, to a reckless driver in 2013. She said the change would help, but more can be done now.

"Making the roads narrower, making protected bike lanes, so the roads are a little narrower for the drivers that it's telling them to go slowly," Cohen said.

Officials said they will be lobbying state lawmakers to bring about these changes. State Sen. Brad Hoylman is sponsoring the changes for round-the-clock camera operation.

"There are more people using vehicles than taking the subway and more cyclists and pedestrians in general, so we are living on our streets during this pandemic. So, we have to make them safer for New Yorkers," Hoylman said.

The DOT said hundreds of speed cameras were installed across the city in 2020. The department hopes by the end of next year there will be more than 2,000 citywide.

CBS2's Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report

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