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Why are some speed cams shut off before schools open?

A sign in front of the Unqua Elementary

A sign in front of the Unqua Elementary School on Unqua Road in Massapequa warns motorists of a speed traffic camera in use. The posted speed limit in front of the school is 20 mph. Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Why are school cameras being shut off at 9 a.m. near schools that don't open until later?

That inquiry was prompted by Wednesday's announcement that Nassau County's school-zone speed cameras would operate on a reduced schedule -- 7 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m., starting Monday.

"There seems to be something missed by the 'deciders,' " Marc Kubit of Massapequa wrote in an email, specifically that not every school in the county is underway by 9 a.m.

"My family has lived in Massapequa for almost 40 years so I am familiar with the hours that our public schools operate," Kubit wrote, noting that Unqua Elementary School opens at 9:15 a.m. "Ending camera enforcement at 9 a.m. is, in the minds of some of the driving public, equivalent to the expression, 'Drivers, start your engines,' as they will now be able to race to their destinations without fear of being ticketed."

The school is just south of Sunrise Highway on Unqua Road, a popular half-mile route to retail businesses, among them Westfield Sunrise Mall.

When we spoke, Kubit said the cutback in speed camera hours sends a signal that "it's OK to speed after 9, though school doesn't start until 9:15. So if you're a walker, you're still in the way of traffic on a main road."

Will the county consider extending camera enforcement past 9 a.m. at schools that have later starting times?

"We left it open for the schools to request different hours," County Executive Edward Mangano said in an emailed statement.

If that leads to varying camera hours among schools, will signs specifying the hours be posted? No, said spokesman Brian Nevin: "Signs specify school zone hours -- never speed camera hours."

The county says drivers should not expect to speed after 9 a.m. Nevin pointed out that, even though camera enforcement hours have been cut, the school speed zone remains in effect from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. "and those breaking the law are subject to tickets from police officers."

Don't say you weren't warned.

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