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School safety cameras hit roadblocks

The New York State legislature is considering a bill that would increase the number and scope of speed safety cameras placed in school zones in New York City to prevent tragedies. However, this proposal is facing significant opposition.

Car accidents are the leading cause of injury-related fatalities for children in the city. Speeding causes more deadly accidents than drunk or distracted drivers combined. A pedestrian's chances of being killed by a car going 30 miles an hour is eight times greater than a vehicle traveling 20 miles an hour. Up to 85 percent of pedestrians die after being struck by a car that is traveling 40 miles an hour.

Lawmakers, nonetheless, have complained that automated enforcement devices are an unfair and covert method for gaining revenue from motorists. However, drivers caught speeding by a safety camera face a $50 ticket, while motorists cited by police pay a $688 fine.

These devices are very effective at stopping repeated violations and 80 percent of cited drivers do not violate speed limits in the same area within one year. Violations have fallen, on average, 63 percent in areas where these cameras were installed.

This legislation would require signs warning drivers of these cameras within 300 feet of a school zone. These cameras are sophisticated and carefully adjusted devices that are not activated unless a vehicle is going more than 10 miles over the speed limit.

Speed cameras cannot profile certain groups of people or measurably violate privacy. The cameras only record images of the rear of the vehicle and its license plate. These devices, unlike the police, cannot record the driver's race, age, sex, socioeconomic status or behavior.

The area impacted by the cameras is also limited. New York City would be permitted to increase the number of school zones equipped with these cameras from 140 to 290. This would protect about one-third of the city's schools and only a small part of the general area of the city.

Despite objections, these cameras have been successful. Pedestrian injuries fell by 23.3 percent in school zones protected by these devices. However, these cameras are only installed at seven percent of schools in the city.

Victims of these pedestrian accidents and their families should seek prompt legal representation to assure the they can obtain evidence to support a lawsuit. A lawyer can help ensure that their rights are protected.

Source: The New York Times, "Speed Safety Cameras Near Schools Make Sense," Hope Reeves, June 14, 2017

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