BY NAAFUA AKUMAH
Two local politicians on Thursday proposed legislation in Albany to toughen the penalty for drivers who speed in school zones that would cause them lose their licenses for 60 days after three or more violations during school days within an 18-month period.
During the announcement, which was held in front of PS 41 in Manhattan, Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick were joined by members of Transportation Alternatives and Make Queens Safer, two advocacy organization.
“We have a speeding problem in one of every three schools in the city,” said Peralta. “If passed, this legislation will punish offenders by taking away their driver’s licenses for 60 days. We have a responsibility to hold reckless drivers accountable for their actions. Schools zones are now slow zones. Period.”
When asked if there was a specific incident that motived the introduction of the bill, Peralta replied, “It’s just the fact there’s been an increase in accidents in school zones.”
In 2013, according to New York City’s Department of Transportation, at least three in every four drivers exceed limits within a quarter mile of 100 school buildings surveyed. In addition, at another 306 school zones, between 25 and 75 percent of the drivers exceeded the speed limit.
“Let me tell you if I don’t have my license with me for one day because I left it in my wallet somewhere, I go crazy looking for it so not being able to actually have your license for two months, especially in the city of New York, trying to get around if you have a car. I think that a send a message that I need to slow down next time,” Peralta said.
Glick said every day one million children travel to and from school in New York City. When a parent or guardian sends their children to school, they deserve the peace of mind to know that speeding motorists will not put their children in danger.
Cristina Furlong, Co-founder of Makes Queens Safer, also said that speed camera enforcement has changed behavior and reduced traffic dangers around the schools where they are located.
“When drivers persist in disregarding the safety of our children, the result could be tragic,” Furlong said. “We believe that it is fair and just to have this new legislation to act as a deterrent to the dangerous behaviors and rampant speeding that put our children in harm’s way.”