Four years ago, speed cameras were installed in Nassau County school zones that caused massive chaos for parents and residents. In the three short months they were active, the school zone cameras issued over $24 million in revenue for the county in traffic violations, a move that gained the program a reputation as a ‘cash grab’ rather than a safety method.
Now, the topic of reinstalling the controversial speed cameras is back on the table with some school districts making specific requests for the program. As the new school year begins on Long Island, school officials are claiming there could be a significant value in utilizing the speed cameras to help reduce serious and fatal speeding accidents in school zones. However, residents who remember the issues these speed cameras caused in the past are not on board with taking another chance with the pesky program, igniting a popular debate as officials determine the next best move for the county.
Tainted History of Nassau Speed Cameras
When the speed camera program was first initiated back in June 2014, county and school officials hoped the program would increase safety for students by reducing the number of speeding cars using the threat of hefty violations. Unfortunately, the cameras did not live up to the hype, displaying major malfunctions such as:
- Ticketing drivers without notifying them of the speed limit change.
- Ticketing drivers before and after school hours were in session.
- Ticketing drivers during non-school hours (weekends and summer break).
A number of residents received tickets without even knowing the speed cameras were installed and active, causing a backlash of angry parents and local drivers who saw the program only as a way to get extra revenue. Yet, despite the outrageous disapproval of the speed cameras in the past, there are still plenty of supporters, particularly ones who have noticed New York City neighborhoods reaping the benefits of a properly running program.
Speed Camera Support in NYC
Not all cities in New York oppose speed cameras as strongly as Long Island residents. Back in July of this year, New York City residents were panicking at the notion that their school speed zone cameras were going to be turned off for good when the New York Senate failed to pass the legislation to keep the program alive. However, in response to an outpour of concerns, the bill was expanded and renewed quickly to get the school speed zone cameras in NYC up and running again. The new bill was signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on September 4th, easing hundreds of concerned parents involved in 140 affected communities across the city.
Pros of Speed Cameras
The massive amount of supporters for school speed zone cameras in NYC begs the impending question- are there true benefits of these speed camera programs for our student’s safety?
A study out of PubMed Health shows that cities who install speed cameras reduce their fatal and serious crash outcomes by 30 to 40% in the areas they are placed. The study concluded speed cameras appeared to be a worthwhile investment to help cities reduce their fatality rates in areas known for speeding accidents, or high-risk areas such as school zones with greater numbers of pedestrians.
Elite Driving School based in Maryland highlights two additional benefits when it comes to installing speed cameras that could make them successful in increasing safety:
- Situational Compliance: If drivers are well aware that speed cameras are located in a school zone, they are much more likely to slow down to avoid a fine. They tend to behave themselves more when it comes to avoiding spending unnecessary money and in turn, will reduce the number of speeding accidents where the cameras are placed.
- Random Uncertainty: When drivers encounter enough speed cameras, they may start to assume that speed cameras are everywhere, adjusting their speed more often to reduce the risk of getting unknowingly fined.
Cons of Speed Cameras
Several national organizations oppose speed cameras, reporting the positive benefits of these programs are purely anecdotal and unreliable.
The National Motorists Association defines these results as the most negative outcomes of speed cameras, even when installed in school zones:
- False Readings: Speed camera radars are not as accurate as they claim to be. These imperfect devices can easily result in wrongful fines, costing unsuspecting residents hundreds or even thousands of dollars if they are unaware of how to fight the charge.
- Traffic Congestion: Speed cameras cause some drivers to overreact and go too slow. This can not only create a safety hazard for cars going the speed limit but can create unnecessary traffic congestion, which poses its own risk of accidents.
- No Accuser: When someone is issued an unfair ticket by an officer, you can confront your accuser in court. But how do you confront a faulty camera?
- ‘Kangaroo Effect’: Drivers are who are aware of where the speed cameras are might fall into the dangerous ‘kangaroo effect’: the process by which cars often slow down and speed right back up as soon as they are out of the ticket zone. This effect can cause unnecessary accidents for other motorists and pedestrians outside of the school zones where the cameras are placed.
The Endless Debate
The debate as to whether or not speed cameras actually protect students and pedestrians within school zones is still up in the air. In extremely congested and fast moving parts of New York City, these cameras seem to be favored as a safety measure for reducing harm to students as evidence of the multiple rallies and petitions enacted to get them turned back on. But many Nassau County residents are still on the fence about these devices remembering the complications they brought in the past. County officials may need to offer more evidence that the safety benefits for our students are worth the investment in speed cameras before the majority of the public gets on board with the proposed measures.
Our personal injury attorneys at Siler & Ingber are dedicated to supporting Long Island families in the case of unfortunate injuries due to negligent drivers. If you or a loved one was injured in a reckless vehicle accident, our expert team is here to fight back for you. Contact us for a free confidential legal consultation to learn more about your options by calling 1-877-LAW-4343 or entering your information into the online contact form at the bottom of the page.
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