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CBS 2 Exclusive: An Inside Look At New York City’s Speed Camera Cars

DOT Commissioner Says This Is Not 'Gotcha' And This Is Not A Money Grab

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The words “smile, you’re on candid camera” have taken on new meaning in the city’s crackdown on speeding motorists.

CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer got an exclusive peek Wednesday at the new way drivers get to say “cheese” – and not by choice.

Flashbulbs pop as the city’s new fleet of mobile cameras catches motorists speeding. After photographing the offending vehicles, the drivers are issued summonses.

“We are really not trying to engage in ‘gotcha,’ and we’re really not trying to do this as a revenue-raising exercise,” said city Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “And one thing that I say is if the drivers of New York slow down, obey the speed limit, and stop running red lights — and the city collects no revenue – I’ll consider it a victory.”

CBS 2 got an exclusive inside look at the cameras, which nab drivers who go 11 or more mph over the speed limit. Trottenberg explained why 11 mph is the limit.

“We’re allowed to start ticketing at 10 miles over the posted speed limit, and we put that extra mile in just to be sure,” she said.

Officials are careful to make sure the radar is absolutely accurate. They have to go through a 26-point checklist.

First, a speeding car passes the “speed camera car” parked on the side of the street. Then, a beep goes off inside the speed camera car, and the speed is posted on a monitor watched by a DOT employee inside. A picture of the car then pops up, and that picture — along with a ticket for $50 — is sent to the motorist.

Motorists are divided about the speed camera vehicles, which they might not notice if they don’t see the radar bar on the top.

Ivy London of East Flatbush and Sergey Gusakov of Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn both thought the enforcement effort was a great idea.

“That’s excellent. That’s good, because we’re not supposed to speed,” London said.

“Great idea — there’s a school over there,” Gusakov added.

But Robert Tanner of Midwood said the cameras are going too far.

“I’m very upset about it,” he said, “because I think they’re invading my privacy.”

In fact, Tanner was so upset that he parked his car and went to the speed camera car on Kings Highway in Brooklyn to complain in person.

“This is just to raise money for the government,” Tanner said.

When Kramer said the stated goal is to try to get people to slow down, Tanner added, “OK, fine, but people — they’re not going to slow down.”

Believe it or not, being caught on candid speed camera is a whole lot better for the offending motorists than being caught by a police officer. A ticket from an officer costs a lot more and gives a motorist points on his or her license.

The city now has six speed camera cars, which have given out nearly 70,000 tickets.

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