Written by Steve Mosco Wednesday, 02 July 2014 00:00
School zone speedsters face a new round of surviellance in the state’s effort to thwart their reckless ways.
Governor Andrew Cuomo traveled to Bethpage High School recently to sign legislation that authorizes the addition of school speed zone cameras in Nassau and Suffolk counties. According to proponents, the new law aims to enhance the safety of children, pedestrians and drivers in school areas by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents 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. “By empowering Nassau and Suffolk Counties to install dozens of speed cameras in school zones, we are helping to protect our students and ultimately save lives. This should send a message to all drivers — slow down and obey the speed limit, especially when passing by a school.”
The new law means more drivers will likely be nabbed for exceeding the speed limit, and while some residents believe it’s a necessary price to pay to save lives, some feel it is an unfair use of technology against otherwise law-abidding citizens.
Scott Grann has lived on Round Swamp Round in Old Bethpage for close to 20 years. In that time, he said he has seen and heard many drivers burning rubber in front of Old Bethpage Elementary School, just steps from his house.
“People drive like animals down this road,” he said, adding that he hopes cameras will deter high-speed driving. “It’s beyond people just going a touch over the speed limit. Trucks driving to the expressway from Farmingdale come barreling down the road, right past the school, going at least 50. They don’t care.”
But not all residents are happy about the timing of the governor’s new law. Camille Toma, a member of the Farmingdale PTA, said that residents have been complaining about people speeding down Conklin and Rt. 24 for years.
“If he really cared then he should have done something when people were complaining,” Toma said. “I think the Governor is capitalizing on our tragedy to try and garner some sort of favor... I think it’s disgusting.”
The new law, which will take effect in 30 days, authorizes Nassau and Suffolk counties to establish a pilot program with speed cameras in school speed zones — one per school district — to record speeding violations as they occur, without requiring a police officer to be present at the scene. The law enables speed cameras to be placed in up to 56 school speed zones in Nassau County.
According to data released by the governor’s office, there is a 70 percent chance that a child hit by a vehicle going 40 mph will be killed, but a child hit by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph has an 80 percent chance of surviving. Officials said implementing speed cameras in school speed zones will supplement police presence on the streets in catching speeding violations and preventing the accidents that arise from speeding.
Aside from catching drivers in the act, officials said the presence of speed enforcement cameras will also encourage drivers to proceed with caution through school speed zones, thus enhancing the safety of children, pedestrians and drivers alike.
“A school zone safety report indicates 200 motorists per hour exceeded the posted limit by 25mph,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. “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.”
— Additional Reporting By Daniel Offner