A speed camera mounted on an sport ulility vehicle along...

A speed camera mounted on an sport ulility vehicle along the eastbound LIE between exits 49-50 in Melville on April 19, 2023. Credit: James Carbone

The Long Island region had the highest number of work-zone speed-camera violations in the state during the program’s first six months of operation, according to state data.

Out of 133,640 tickets statewide, Nassau and Suffolk counties had 41,709 violations issued from May 17 through Nov. 22, more than 30% of the total, officials announced.

Only the Rochester-Finger Lakes area came close to meeting Long Island’s count, with 32,578 tickets issued. New York City had 12,330 violations, while the Albany region had 4,616.

“The numbers are pretty staggering. It seems that so many people are speeding at construction zones,” said Robert Sinclair Jr., spokesman  for AAA Northeast. The automobile club advocated for the program in 2021 to reduce construction-zone crashes.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Long Island  is seeing the highest number of work-zone speed-camera tickets in the state.
  • From mid-April to the end of October, 263 worksites on Long Island were monitored.
  • Some speeders were repeat offenders, prompting one call for further repercussions.

The state deployed cameras at 263 locations throughout Long Island from mid-April, when a 30-day warning period kicked in, through the end of October, according to state Department of Transportation spokesman Joseph Morrissey.

Under the state's speed-camera program, mobile cameras on SUVs target different spots, ticketing vehicles traveling more than 10 mph over the speed limit. Road signs near construction zones  warn drivers to brake or face a ticket. The New York State Thruway maintains 10 cameras, while the state Department of Transportation maintains 20.

The New York State Thruway, north of New York City, saw 37,779 tickets issued.

The program saw some hiccups during the first few weeks of fines, which resulted in  fewer tickets. 

More than 7,500 tickets, or 9% of all tickets issued on roads managed by the Department of Transportation, were repeat offenders, according to a state news release.

On the New York State Thruway network, repeat offenders accounted for more than 1,500 violations, or 4% of all tickets issued there. 

Fines start at $50, escalate to $75 for the second violation, $100 for the third ticket and $100  each for additional tickets within 18 months of the first violation.

Tickets are issued to the car's owner, and no points are issued on driver's licenses. Unpaid fines may result in a hold on registration until fines are paid. Fines can be contested within 30 days after citations are received.

Marc Herbst, executive director  of the Long Island Contractors' Association, said there should be more repercussions for drivers who repeatedly speed in work zones.

“There needs to be consequences for those repeat offenders. They’re intentionally ignoring the safety of the workers,” Herbst said.

On Long Island, where other automated enforcement programs have come under scrutiny and a speed-camera program near schools in 2014 in Nassau was repealed, some residents believe the latest effort is just another way to drum up money for the state.

Paul Haggerty of Bellmore started a petition on social media to do away with the program because he believes police officers should  enforce the speed limits at construction zones. He also criticized 40% of funds being directed to the system’s vendor, Arizona-based Verra Mobility, which has an office in Roslyn Heights. Sixty percent of fines help pay for work-zone safety projects, the state has said.

“It’s just a way to generate revenue. It’s fine if it was really protecting people or helping our roads get fixed or paying teachers or offsetting our housing costs, but it’s not. It’s policing without a police officer, for gain,” Haggerty said.

Rob Cracchiolo of Levittown also doesn’t believe the program’s true aim is safety.

“I think it’s more about money. If they’re worried about workers, they would have more people in work zones telling people to slow down with flags,” Cracchiolo said.

Officials also announced that state and local police officers issued 2,919 tickets statewide this year for various violations during 84 deployments under Operation Hardhat. This is when police officers disguised as highway maintenance workers at active state and Thruway work zones issue tickets on violations such as speeding, cellphone use and failure to use seat belts.

On Long Island, there were 378 violations issued.

In 2021, more than 50 injuries occurred after 378 work-zone intrusions on state- and Thruway-operated roadways, according to the DOT.

“Work zone speed limits and other restrictions protect highway workers making our roads safer for everyone, and the actions we have taken this year are proving to be effective,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement.

Frank Hoare, Thruway Authority acting executive director,  said in a release that the program has led to a noticeable decrease in average speeds at work zones on the Thruway, combined with a drop in average violations issued per month.

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