School Zone Cameras Return to New York

School zone cameras have returned to New York City schools. After the program lapsed over the summer, the school camera program is now planning to expand its operations. Under the law just signed by Gov. Cuomo, the number of cameras in school zones will sharply increase from 140 to 750 schools across the city. In all, approximately 2,250 speed cameras will be installed in school zones across the five boroughs. The Department of Transportation says the program will roll-out over a three-year period. The Democratic Governor says school zones with the worst traffic accidents will be given priority.

The expanded program will largely operate under the same parameters – any driver going more than 10 m.p.h. over the speed limit will receive a $50 summons. The bill did stipulate two small changes to the program. First, the school zone cameras will now be “active” all day – from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Previously, the school zone cameras only operated from one hour before school starts to one hour after school ends. Second, signage must be posted alerting the driver of the school zone and warning the driver of the traffic cameras.

According to Gov. Cuomo, substantial changes to the program were unnecessary because “speed cameras work.” The New York Governor said that schools with traffic cameras in New York saw a 55 percent drop in traffic fatalities. Despite the effectiveness of this life-saving law, the program lapsed last summer after the Republican-controlled Legislature refused to reinstate the law. Under the new Democratic-controlled Legislature, the expanded version of the law was swiftly approved.

Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded the “Assembly and Senate” who he said, “deserve great credit in passing a dramatic expansion of our lifesaving speed camera program.” The Mayor did not credit Gov. Cuomo, his political ally but personal adversary, before shifting the focus to his Vision Zero initiative and his administration’s success on pedestrian safety. Unable to put the petty politics of New York behind, Mayor de Blasio then discussed the point of the new law, saying “Speed cameras are keeping our kids safe and saving lives. We needed to protect more kids at more schools, and now we have the power to do it.”

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