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School Zones Get Speed Cameras

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety 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.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation authorizing the addition of speed cameras in school speed zones in Nassau and Suffolk counties on June 25. The law allows one speed camera per 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.

A camera has already been installed at Hicksville High School and will begin operation in September. The traffic safety department had experimented with placing a unit at Dutch Lane for one day, but found there was nowhere to safely put it without it interfering with traffic.

Chris Mistron, Director of Nassau County Traffic Safety, says that the high school was chosen because it had quite a few violations, with a majority of drivers going 25 miles per hour over the posted limit, not just the school zone limit.

Francine DeAgresta is PTA president of Hicksville High School and says that she thinks the speed camera in front of the school on Jerusalem Avenue is a great idea.

“People speed down that street so I’m hoping this will make people think twice. Now people have to be on guard and make sure they’re not speeding,” says DeAgresta. “People should be more cautious around a school zone, but they just don’t care. I’ve seen it firsthand. There’s a stop sign there and if the crossing guards aren’t there, people won’t even stop. It’s scary.”

The county is installing cameras and a radar, but the device will not show drivers how fast they are going.

The camera will operate Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets will be $80, similar to red light cameras, and violators will not receive points on their licenses.

Mistron says there is no estimate as to what revenue will be generated by the cameras.

“What we’re trying to do is improve the safety around the school on a school day. We’re not trying to catch people on off hours,” Mistron said. “We just want to try and slow down the traffic.”

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, state 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.