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How effective is the city's school zone speed camera program?

As New York City school children return to classes this week, many will walk to and from school. The streets near primary and secondary schools are often teaming with kids who are biking and walking, many of whom are distracted and more focused on the conversation they're having with friends or their cellphones than the motor vehicles around them.

In an effort to keep students safe and prevent pedestrian and motor vehicle accidents, signs posted on the streets around the city's more than 2,500 schools warn drivers they are driving in a school zone and must therefore reduce their speed. Unfortunately far too many drivers fail to heed school zone speed limits and speed through areas where children may dart across a street or fail to see a motor vehicle until it's too late.

Last year, the state’s Department of Transportation sanctioned the installation of 140 speed cameras on streets that run directly in front, back or along the side of a school. Since being turned on, the cameras have already issued speeding tickets to some 940,000 drivers throughout the city to the tune of nearly $30 million. However, many argue that these numbers would likely be much higher if it weren't for the restrictions attached to the use of the cameras.

Currently, the cameras are only allowed on streets that abut a school. This rule means that the speed violations of drivers on other nearby major streets and intersections won't be caught on tape. Additionally, rules dictate that the cameras can only be turned on one hour before and after official school hours. The cameras also remain shut off on weekends and during the summer months when school isn't in session.

City officials are already backing the expansion of the school zone speed camera program and the issue is likely to garner much debate from both proponents and opponents. We'll continue to provide updates as state and city politicians decide the fate of this life-saving program. 

Source: Streetsblog.org, "NYC Has Installed All 140 School Zone Speed Cameras Allowed by Albany," Sept. 8, 2015

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