NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – As the school year approaches, New York City is stepping up efforts to catch drivers who go too fast near schools.
The city announced Monday that enforcement of 20 speed cameras will begin on Sept. 9, the same day as the start of the school year.
The state Legislature agreed in June to let the city set up 20 to 40 speed cameras in school zones to catch and deter speeders.
“Keeping streets safe for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians is one of the most important public safety challenges any government faces,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement. “Our streets are the safest they have ever been, due in large part to our enforcement efforts and innovative traffic engineering that have brought traffic fatalities to record lows. Curbing speeding around schools will help us continue to make our City’s streets safer for everyone.”
The cameras use radar to record the speed of passing vehicles and then snap a picture of the license plate of those determined to be breaking the speed limit. For the first few weeks, motorists caught on camera to be going 10 or more miles above the speed limit will get only warnings.
Eventually, speeders will be subject to a fine of $50.
The cameras are being set up in undisclosed chronic speeding spots within a quarter-mile of some schools. The city has identified 100 areas in school zones where speeding is an issue.
According to city statistics, traffic fatalities have decreased by 30 percent since 2001, but speeding remained the contributing factor in 81 fatal traffic crashes in 2012. Of those, speeding played a role in 30 percent of the crashes, the city said.
“The cameras are mobile, so we’ll be able to move them around and address high-speed locations that may change over time. And, again, expand the area that we’re able to cover,” City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in June. “Any school with excessive speeding is fair game.”
Some drivers have voiced their opposition to the speed cameras.
“I think it’s embarrassing the city is trying different ways to milk the citizens of this country,” one woman said in June.
The 20 cameras across all five boroughs will be the city’s first speed cameras. The city already has red light cameras installed at a number of intersections.
Bloomberg said in June that speeding is the biggest contributor to traffic deaths citywide.
According to the city, there is a 70 percent chance a child will be killed if hit by a car at 40 miles per hours, but an 80 percent chance that child survives if hit by a vehicle traveling 30 miles per hour, which is the city’s speed limit.
New York City will become one of more than 130 other jurisdictions in the nation to use speed cameras.
“In New Orleans, for example, speed cameras led to an 84 percent drop in speeding. And other research shows that speed cameras reduce injuries and fatalities by something like 40 or 45 percent,” said Mayor Bloomberg.
In late May, 4-year-old Ariel Russo was struck and killed by an SUV as she was being walked to pre-kindergarten at Holy Name School on the Upper West Side.
And in February, a 6-year-old boy was struck and killed as he crossed the street on the way to school in East Harlem.
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