Hundreds of new traffic speed cameras would be authorized for school zones in New York City and Long Island, N.Y., under legislation passed by the state Assembly on Monday.
Speeding drivers caught by the cameras would be mailed $50 tickets, but the infraction would not impact their auto insurance rates. The cameras would be activated during and immediately before and after school days and events.
The measure would allow up to 69 cameras near schools in Suffolk County and 56 in Nassau County. New York City already has 20 of the cameras and could get up to 120 more if the bill is approved.
The Senate is expected to take up the legislation soon. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports the bill.
Speed cameras would raise millions of dollars in revenue for local governments, but supporters argue safety is the primary objective.
“It’s an attempt to reduce injuries and accidents,” said Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a New York City Democrat. “… I do believe people’s behavior is modified when money is involved.”
Opponents, however, questioned the value of cameras as an alternative to uniformed police officers and suggested revenue was the true motivation.
“It’s government attempting to entrap its citizens,” said Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, a Suffolk County Republican. “This is a ruse. It’s all about raising money.”
The cameras are expected to raise as much as $50 million or more for cash-strapped Nassau County, which declared a fiscal emergency in 2011 and has been under a state-imposed financial authority for more than a decade. Officials plan to use the money to help lift a wage freeze on county workers.
Suffolk County officials estimated this year that 20 speed cameras would raise $2 million a year.
In New York City, the cameras are a key part of Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign to reduce traffic fatalities.
Monday’s Assembly vote was 103-24 in favor of the bill.