TODAY'S PAPER
Broken Clouds 41° Good Afternoon
Broken Clouds 41° Good Afternoon
OpinionCommentary

Speed cameras: Enough is enough. Check out ticket total.

About half the population of the Staten Island have gotten those $50 tickets in the mail.

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

The state said NO, and we couldn’t agree more.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials called for increasing the 140 school zones that the state law currently allows, with a total of 240 speed cameras — 200 fixed, 40 mobile — all you have to do is look at the number of tickets issued to know we have plenty.

To support the increase, the city cited a decrease in pedestrian and bicycle deaths since the cameras were installed in 2014 .

While that might be the case, the fixed cameras have issued 152,475 violations as of June 1 and mobile cameras have issued 96,206. That amounts to a total of 248,681 on Staten Island since they were first deployed, according to DOT.

Translation: About half the population of the borough have gotten those $50 tickets in the mail.

If they’ve all been paid, that’s $12,434,050 for the city and goes a long way in supporting those who view the devices as revenue enhancers in disguise.

If the city thinks there are particular school zones that aren’t adequately covered, then move some from other areas.

STATE MAKES THE CALL

The Department of Transportation is only allowed to operate speed cameras in 140 school zones now during school hours.

State lawmakers created and regulate the city program placing the cameras in school speed zones and the bill that failed to pass in Albany would have expanded the program to 290 by 2019.

So the number of ticket machines, for now, remains the same.

Across the borough, the city has 40 mobile cameras and another 200 in fixed locations.

And the locations of some are no secret.

There are currently six school zones on Staten Island with 11 fixed cameras, according to DOT. Each of the zones can have more than one camera on several approaches.

The DOT said that mobile cameras have also been deployed at 77 different locations across the borough.

Supporters say they discourage speeding, save lives and expanding use of the cameras is part of de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” plan to completely eliminate traffic fatalities.

We hope that happens somewhere down the road, but the real key to making “Vision Zero” a reality is twofold:

Enforcement of moving violations by the NYPD, and the very unlikely transformation of driving culture on Staten Island.

While the number of actual moving violations — for speeding, failure to yield and other offenses — fluctuates from month to month, there’s no sign of a precipitous decline.

And there are other issues with the program that deserve a closer look.

When Staten Islander Christopher Altieri fought two speed camera tickets in court for friends, he initially lost. But appealing the administrative law judge’s decision to a three-judge panel, he won.

He pointed out that the state Vehicle and Traffic Law, section 1180-b, which establishes the speed camera program, specifies that a “certificate charging the liability” — a sworn statement from a city technician verifying the videotape/photographs — be included in the “notice of liability” (the ticket) sent to the driver.

The DOT doesn’t send the certificate but makes it “available upon request.” The city agency hasn’t acknowledged that doing so violates the requirements in the state law, and has not said it will begin sending certificates or overturning past violations.

While the DOT stated that “administrative law judges and vehicle owners in court have access to the certifications,” Altieri said he was shown the certificate only when he asked for it. It was presented on a computer screen in the courtroom that was for court staff and too far away to read, he said.

Not all who get these violations have to time or motivation to mount a legal challenge, but if the program is not being run properly — fix it.

And fix it before another attempt is made to add more cameras.

Columns