School chiefs favor speed camera plan

By Jeff Bessen and Vikas Girdhar


Based on data presented by state officials, if a vehicle traveling 40 mph hits a child, there is a 70 percent chance that a fatality will occur, but if the vehicle’s speed is reduced by just 10 mph, there is an 80 percent chance of survival.

Those figures prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation into law at Bethpage High School on June 25 that allows Nassau and Suffolk counties to establish a pilot program to install cameras in school speed zones.

One camera can be installed per district — 56 in Nassau, 69 in Suffolk — in
an effort to curb speeding in school zones. The law will take effect later this month.

Al Harper, Patrick Manley and Dr. Ralph Ferrie — the superintendents of the Elmont, Franklin Square and Sewanhaka school districts, respectively — all said they believed the program would yield positive results and help make school zones safer. “Any type of device or safety measure that will help to protect our children is a good idea,” Harper said. “The Elmont school district always places a strong emphasis on the safety of our children and staff. We are thankful for the new cameras.”

“We’re always appreciative of any assistance we receive regarding school security,” Manley said. “Many of us already have video networks, and additional cameras will be linked to those networks to enhance our coverage.”

“Any efforts to improve safety around schools is welcomed,” said Ferrie.

Officials said that using speed cameras in school zones supplements the police presence on the streets in the effort to catch violators and prevent accidents that could be caused by speeding.

“New York state will not tolerate drivers who exercise reckless behavior and put other people at risk — especially around our schools,” Cuomo said. “This should send a message to all drivers: Slow down and obey the speed limit, especially when passing a school.”

The new law was needed to amend current state vehicle and traffic law to create a provision for speed cameras, state officials said. Nassau and Suffolk counties will be responsible for the purchase and the installation of the cameras.

“A school safety report indicates 200 motorists per hour exceeded the posted speed limit by 25 miles per hour,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said at a press conference after Cuomo signed the legislation. “I thank Governor Cuomo for approving this pilot program, as it protects our children and serves as an important message to motorists to exercise care in our school zones.”

Local violations will be adjudicated by the Nassau County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency. The penalty may not exceed $50 per violation, though an additional $25 may be assessed for the failure to respond to a violation within a specific time period. Speed camera violations are equivalent to a parking ticket, and are assessed against the vehicle’s owner, not the driver. A registrant’s failure to pay three or more speed camera violations in an 18-month period could result in suspension or nonrenewal of the vehicle registration.