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Letter: Focus speed-camera debate on safety

Traffic moves past the sign for the red-light

Traffic moves past the sign for the red-light camera on Old Country Road in Westbury on Aug. 18, 2011. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

AAA is always delighted when politicians focus on traffic safety. The ongoing debate over speed cameras ought to provoke public discussion about the importance of safe driving. Unfortunately, it's been all about the money ["Nassau numbers don't add up," Editorial, April 6].

The dollars must be allocated in some fashion, of course. But that doesn't mean Nassau should spend money it doesn't have to plug a systemic hole in its budget. Local officials should remember that a successful program would not generate revenue, because nobody would speed in school zones. Politicians should support speed cameras because they have the potential to reduce crashes and protect our children, with a mere side effect of increasing revenue -- not the other way around.

This misplaced attention is doubly harmful. First, it feeds public suspicion that speed cameras are designed to rake in the cash, diminishing respect for government, law enforcement and a general traffic safety culture. Second, it's a giant missed opportunity: Rather than reminding Long Islanders of the fiscal problems of their municipalities, the discussion should focus the public on the dangers of speeding and actually effect a positive change on the roads.

Alec Slatky, Massapequa Park

Editor's note: The writer is a legislative analyst at AAA New York, a motorist advocacy group.