Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
School speed cameras showed up before we were ready.
And that meant we didn't have many answers when readers began to ask questions after reporter Laura Figueroa's July 26 story, which revealed that three speed cameras are already at work in Nassau.
We did know this much: The state law that authorized the cameras allows one in each school district -- 56 in Nassau and 69 in Suffolk -- and permits cameras to operate on school days, from one hour before school until one hour after, as well as during other school events and for a half-hour before and after.
Last week we asked Nassau County for some specifics about how the program is going to work. (We'll catch up with Suffolk when its cameras begin operating, which is expected early next year.) Here's what Christopher Mistron, Nassau County's traffic safety coordinator, said in an email response:
Will signs advise drivers that speed cameras are being used?
Yes, signs stating "Speed Limit Enforced by Camera/Video" are in the school zones using the electronic enforcement.
How will drivers know what hours the cameras are in use?The posted school zone signs will announce the hours a camera is in effect.
Will flashing lights be used to inform drivers when the cameras are in use?
Will posted school speed limits be uniform in all school speed zones?
All school zone speeds are established by the towns or incorporated villages and will not be altered by the county program.
On a street with multiple lanes, can the camera differentiate between drivers in different lanes?
Yes, the technology is able to differentiate the vehicles and their speeds in the different lanes.
How are the cameras activated?
Fixed, or stationary, cameras are activated automatically; mobile units will be activated when they are deployed. Regardless of the activation time, violations will be issued only for allowable times.
Will humans review the photos before tickets are issued?
All images captured will be reviewed by humans.
Will all cameras be in operation by the beginning of the school year in September?
It is the goal of the program to have as many of the locations become operational by the first day of school.
Is a list of all speed camera locations available?
A list will be made available as the rollout begins and construction is complete.
And, as for the tickets: Each will carry a $50 fine, plus the $30 administrative fee added to all traffic violations.
Don't say we didn't warn you.