De Blasio expands speed cameras near schools

A speed camera clocks vehicles traveling southbound on A speed camera clocks vehicles traveling southbound on Utopia Parkway near 56th Avenue towards Francis Lewis High School in Queens on Sept. 2, 2014. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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A total of 140 speed-enforcement cameras will be installed near city schools over the next two years, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday, as part of his Vision Zero initiative to end pedestrian deaths.

Twenty-three cameras are already in place, and an expansion was authorized by the state, officials said.

They are especially necessary near schools being struck by a car is the leading cause of "injury-related death" for children under 14, de Blasio said. He spoke outside Public School 95 in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx at an intersection that saw 42 traffic incidents in four years, including seven pedestrian injuries.

"Speed cameras fundamentally change reckless behavior," he said. "Speed cameras are a wake-up call."

Vehicles that speed are captured by the cameras and their owners are ticketed if they are 11 or more miles per hour above the limit. The fine is $50.

Existing cameras have brought in $9 million in fines since January, the Department of Transportation said.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the new cameras will include both stationary and mobile ones. They cost between $90,000 and $115,000 each, she said.

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Unmarked cars outfitted with speed-enforcement cameras installed were parked at the news conference site. Between 40 and 50 of the roving cameras are expected to be deployed by the end of the school year, Trottenberg said.

Many school safety zones have a 15 mph limit, Trottenberg said. State officials approved lowering the citywide default speed limit to 25 mph, and enforcement begins in November, said NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan.

During the summer, the Department of Transportation deployed cameras only near schools with summer activities, conforming with state restrictions, officials said. With the school year starting Thursday, the agency can place cameras near schools, using them only on school days, officials said.

"This is going to send a message that if you're going to hit the accelerator, you're going to pay the price with a ticket," said state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), who advocated for traffic safety legislation in Albany.

Red-light cameras at 150 intersections is another prong of Vision Zero, de Blasio said. Their use was extended with Albany's permission through 2019.

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