Speed cameras along the eastbound Long Island Expressway in April....

Speed cameras along the eastbound Long Island Expressway in April. The state has issued a limited number of tickets in the first month since the warning period ended. Credit: James Carbone

Cameras across the state have caught thousands of drivers speeding by work sites since fines commenced, but most of the tickets were issued on the New York State Thruway system that runs mainly north of New York City.

In other work zones, including those on Long Island, the state said it faced unspecified issues during the first month of operation and as a result did not ticket as many drivers.

"The New York State Department of Transportation issued a limited number [of] Notices of Liability during the initial weeks of the penalty period as our vendor continued to refine its quality control procedures," Stephen Canzoneri, state DOT spokesman said in an email.

State officials did not answer follow-up questions Friday.

A total of 8,896 speedsters statewide were ticketed near highway construction zones from May 17 through June 16, the first month that fines were issued under the pilot program.

Ten cameras maintained by the New York State Thruway Authority hit 8,043 drivers with $50 fines — a pace of roughly 27 tickets per camera daily during what's considered to be a busy travel period.

The other 853 tickets were issued by 20 cameras at state Department of Transportation-run highways — each camera issuing fewer than 1.5 tickets per day during the first month.

The state's first automated ticket enforcement program on highways deployed in April, kicking off with a 30-day grace period that saw more than 3,500 warnings distributed by the DOT for drivers going faster than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. It's unclear how many warnings the thruway issued.

Four cameras were stationed on Long Island from May 17 through June 16, according to Glenn Blain, a DOT spokesman.

Cameras mounted on SUVs move from one location to another, openly targeting those flouting the law, with road signs warning drivers to brake or face the camera's glare and a ticket.

On May 18, May 23 and June 1, the cameras were at sites on NY-27 westbound in Brookhaven, and on May 23 a camera was on the Northern State Parkway westbound in Lake Success.

State officials, contractors and unions said the enforcement is a vital tool that protects hard hats from too-fast or inattentive drivers. Seven fatal crashes occurred at work zones statewide, and there were 956 work zone fatalities across the country, according to a the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.

But some motorists and elected officials have criticized the program as just another means to generate revenue. Sixty percent of fines help pay for work zone safety projects, while the remaining 40% go to the system’s vendor, Arizona-based Verra Mobility, which has an office in Roslyn Heights. Company representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

As of the week of June 26, both agencies running the program collected more than $102,000 in payments and issued a total of 10,028 fines. The DOT has collected more than $12,000 in payments and the Thruway Authority about $90,000 in fines.

The state did not break down how many tickets had been issued on Long Island highways compared to the rest of the state. State officials, however, said early indicators show the program is effective, noting positive feedback from highway contractors and workers.

“We are encouraged by the results so far as they suggest that driver behavior is already changing,” Canzoneri said in an email, adding that drivers are slowing down.

Workers on the ground are also noticing a difference since the program launched, according to Mike Elmendorf, the president and CEO of the Association General Contractors of New York State. 

“They’re seeing a change in driver behavior and it’s not just in the work zones that have the cameras in place,” Elmendorf said. “This is exactly what you want to do. It’s about increasing awareness, it’s about making sure that drivers are more cognizant of their speed.”

Speeding plays a major role in fatal crashes, with 29% of all traffic fatalities at least partially caused by speeding, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“I don’t think you could find a highway worker that doesn’t have a story of people speeding or being inattentive. It’s a real serious problem: People have been killed or hurt, and there are too many close calls,” Elmendorf said.

Construction leaders who have complained about the dangers faced by vulnerable highway workers would like to see cameras cover more sites. 

“Ultimately, we would prefer it in every work zone, but that’s really not feasible,” said Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors' Association, who said the program was intended to be a deterrent and is not profit-geared.

"If you're going to sway off into a barricade into a safe area, you're going to damage your own vehicle and yourself, in addition to those who are working very hard," Herbst said. 

Still, Jay Beeber, director of policy and research at the National Motorists Association, a driver advocacy group, is not convinced the data shows the need for tough enforcement measures. While he didn’t have New York figures, he said in California, there was less than one fatality per year linked to a passing motorist.

“The fact of the matter is that workers being killed or injured due to a driver who's speeding in the work zone is incredibly rare,” Beeber said.

He does not believe roadside work zone crashes are a problem. “Then we're issuing tickets, but you're not going to make it any safer because [speeders] are not causing problems.”

Gerald Ullman, a senior research engineer at Texas A&M Transportation Institute, said that while it’s still too early to draw any conclusions about New York's program, other states, such as in Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania, have had success with similar initiatives. He said research shows that these programs improve safety.

The number of citations have decreased over time, indicating drivers are realizing, " 'Hey, I can't speed through this work zone, because I might get a citation,' " Ullman said.

Cameras across the state have caught thousands of drivers speeding by work sites since fines commenced, but most of the tickets were issued on the New York State Thruway system that runs mainly north of New York City.

In other work zones, including those on Long Island, the state said it faced unspecified issues during the first month of operation and as a result did not ticket as many drivers.

"The New York State Department of Transportation issued a limited number [of] Notices of Liability during the initial weeks of the penalty period as our vendor continued to refine its quality control procedures," Stephen Canzoneri, state DOT spokesman said in an email.

State officials did not answer follow-up questions Friday.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Speed cameras at work zones issued 8,895 tickets during the first month of penalties.
  • Most of the drivers were caught on the New York State Thruway network.
  • The state DOT said vendor issues limited its ticketing enforcement action.

A total of 8,896 speedsters statewide were ticketed near highway construction zones from May 17 through June 16, the first month that fines were issued under the pilot program.

Ten cameras maintained by the New York State Thruway Authority hit 8,043 drivers with $50 fines — a pace of roughly 27 tickets per camera daily during what's considered to be a busy travel period.

The other 853 tickets were issued by 20 cameras at state Department of Transportation-run highways — each camera issuing fewer than 1.5 tickets per day during the first month.

The state's first automated ticket enforcement program on highways deployed in April, kicking off with a 30-day grace period that saw more than 3,500 warnings distributed by the DOT for drivers going faster than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. It's unclear how many warnings the thruway issued.

Four cameras were stationed on Long Island from May 17 through June 16, according to Glenn Blain, a DOT spokesman.

Cameras mounted on SUVs move from one location to another, openly targeting those flouting the law, with road signs warning drivers to brake or face the camera's glare and a ticket.

On May 18, May 23 and June 1, the cameras were at sites on NY-27 westbound in Brookhaven, and on May 23 a camera was on the Northern State Parkway westbound in Lake Success.

State officials, contractors and unions said the enforcement is a vital tool that protects hard hats from too-fast or inattentive drivers. Seven fatal crashes occurred at work zones statewide, and there were 956 work zone fatalities across the country, according to a the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.

But some motorists and elected officials have criticized the program as just another means to generate revenue. Sixty percent of fines help pay for work zone safety projects, while the remaining 40% go to the system’s vendor, Arizona-based Verra Mobility, which has an office in Roslyn Heights. Company representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

As of the week of June 26, both agencies running the program collected more than $102,000 in payments and issued a total of 10,028 fines. The DOT has collected more than $12,000 in payments and the Thruway Authority about $90,000 in fines.

The state did not break down how many tickets had been issued on Long Island highways compared to the rest of the state. State officials, however, said early indicators show the program is effective, noting positive feedback from highway contractors and workers.

“We are encouraged by the results so far as they suggest that driver behavior is already changing,” Canzoneri said in an email, adding that drivers are slowing down.

Workers on the ground are also noticing a difference since the program launched, according to Mike Elmendorf, the president and CEO of the Association General Contractors of New York State. 

“They’re seeing a change in driver behavior and it’s not just in the work zones that have the cameras in place,” Elmendorf said. “This is exactly what you want to do. It’s about increasing awareness, it’s about making sure that drivers are more cognizant of their speed.”

Speeding plays a major role in fatal crashes, with 29% of all traffic fatalities at least partially caused by speeding, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“I don’t think you could find a highway worker that doesn’t have a story of people speeding or being inattentive. It’s a real serious problem: People have been killed or hurt, and there are too many close calls,” Elmendorf said.

Construction leaders who have complained about the dangers faced by vulnerable highway workers would like to see cameras cover more sites. 

“Ultimately, we would prefer it in every work zone, but that’s really not feasible,” said Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors' Association, who said the program was intended to be a deterrent and is not profit-geared.

"If you're going to sway off into a barricade into a safe area, you're going to damage your own vehicle and yourself, in addition to those who are working very hard," Herbst said. 

Still, Jay Beeber, director of policy and research at the National Motorists Association, a driver advocacy group, is not convinced the data shows the need for tough enforcement measures. While he didn’t have New York figures, he said in California, there was less than one fatality per year linked to a passing motorist.

“The fact of the matter is that workers being killed or injured due to a driver who's speeding in the work zone is incredibly rare,” Beeber said.

He does not believe roadside work zone crashes are a problem. “Then we're issuing tickets, but you're not going to make it any safer because [speeders] are not causing problems.”

Gerald Ullman, a senior research engineer at Texas A&M Transportation Institute, said that while it’s still too early to draw any conclusions about New York's program, other states, such as in Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania, have had success with similar initiatives. He said research shows that these programs improve safety.

The number of citations have decreased over time, indicating drivers are realizing, " 'Hey, I can't speed through this work zone, because I might get a citation,' " Ullman said.

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