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Keeping eyes on speeders

Camera to be installed at Woodmere Middle School


Motorists on Peninsula Boulevard, near Woodmere Middle School, will have to limit their speed to 20 mph or be ticketed for speeding through a school zone by a camera that will be installed by Nassau County by Sept. 2, the first day of school for the Hewlett-Woodmere district.

The camera will record drivers who exceed the 20 mph speed limit by more than 10 mph and issue tickets by mail. The fine will be $80 — $50 for the violation and $30 for administrative processing, county officials said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation approving the cameras in July.

“Success should not be measured by the amount of revenue generated for the county or towns, but whether drivers learn to slow down,” said Dr. Peter Weber, Hewlett-Woodmere’s assistant superintendent for business.

By the end of this year, each of Nassau County’s 56 school districts will have one camera, set up as either a permanent installation or a mobile unit, to catch speeders. The Lawrence School District is still deciding among three locations: Peninsula Boulevard/Rockaway Turnpike, near the high school in Cedarhurst; Burnside Avenue, by the Number Two School in Inwood; or Broadway in Lawrence, near the middle school.

The initiative is modeled after a similar speed program established in New York City last year. The cameras eliminate the need for a police officer to be on the scene, issuing tickets.

The use of enforcement cameras is all about safety, said Chris Mistron, traffic safety coordinator for Nassau County. “Revenue is a result of bad behavior,” he said. “Historically, where photo enforcement for speed has been implemented, revenue decreases 80 percent over the first year. A school zone safety report indicates 200 motorists per hour exceeded the posted limit by 25 mph in Nassau County.”

Cuomo said that the cameras would help local law enforcement encourage drivers to slow down as they pass through school zones, where speeding contributes to accidents, causing serious injury or death among both pedestrians and motorists. “Speeding through school zones puts children at risk, and this amendment is one way we can better protect our students and crack down on irresponsible drivers,” he said.

The cameras will detect vehicles’ presence and speed up to one hour before and one hour after a school day. They will also operate up to a half hour before and after activities on school campuses. If a vehicle commits a violation, the camera will take photos of its front and rear license plates.

Many visitors on the Nassau County Traffic Safety Facebook page say they oppose the use of the cameras, for several reasons. Some say they are an invasion of privacy. Others want the county to be more transparent about how it will spend the collected money.

Others say that the new legislation is too confusing when it comes to specifying when the cameras will operate. There has already been some controversy this summer, when tickets were issued before any public notification that they were operating during summer-school sessions.

“As a matter of fairness, County Executive Mangano has declared amnesty for all summer-school speed camera tickets,” spokeswoman Katie Grilli-Robles said. “If you paid your ticket, you will be issued a refund from the county treasurer. If you have not paid yet, have fun ripping up your ticket.”

Gloria Flores, a lifelong Lawrence resident who spoke with the Herald in Woodmere, support the legislation. “I think it’s a good thing,” she said. “I think it will stop speeders.”

Shawn Bayer, another Lawrence resident who had driven to Woodmere while running errands, also said he thought the cameras would be effective. “People drive too fast,” he said. “People shouldn’t speed. I got a speeding ticket a few years ago, and since that one, I haven’t gotten another one. This system saves on injuries.”

For updated information about the ticketing program, visit www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/tpva/speed.html.

Have an opinion about speed cameras? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.