If Nassau’s Speed Camera Program Is Working, Let It Keep Working

Since Nassau County’s school zone speed camera program went into effect, there has been a 70 percent decline in violations. County Executive Ed Mangano’s spokesman Brian Nevins acknowledged that this decline in violations is indicative of a “dramatic change in driving habits”, saying “This program has increased student safety and potentially saved lives.”

Yet rather than showcasing the program’s success, Mangano is planning to drastically reduce the hours of operation for speed cameras in school zones. At the same time, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams and other Minority Democrats are calling for the county legislature to “give the residents of Nassau the holiday gift they truly deserve and would appreciate: an immediate termination of the speed camera program,” while Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves says that the county Republicans “have been looking into the possibility of a repeal for weeks,” but want to cease more gradually.

Opponents of the program have complained about the lack of adequate signage, or that it is unclear when school hours are in effect, or that it is simply too difficult to slow down so quickly in some instances. However, there is no need to repeal the program in order to improve education. School zone speed limits are not new. The cameras may be a new means of increasing enforcement in areas with particularly vulnerable populations (i.e. children), but the laws regarding speeding in these zones were already in place, and a previous lack of enforcement does not necessarily mean that the speed camera program is unfair or unjust. In fact, the penalties issued by school zone speed cameras are significantly lower than State law requires, and thus could be considered warnings for drivers in and of themselves.

Opponents have also argued that “No one reported an epidemic of serious accidents in school zones recently.” Tri-State analyzed crash data in Nassau County in 2012 and found that nearly 40 percent of total pedestrian fatalities countywide occurred within a school zone. The analysis was based on the New York State Department of Transportation’s maximum school zone length regulations, which is .025 miles. Regardless of how one chooses to interpret these findings, the simple fact is this: suggesting that lawmakers wait until a child is killed within a school zone to justify the program’s existence is abhorrent. Safety programs, by definition, should be put into place to prevent injury, not to react to injury. Why wait until a life is lost to change behavior?

“Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s decision to cut back on the hours of school speed cameras sanctions the illegal and dangerous behavior of a few drivers at the expense of the safety and quality-of-life for Nassau County residents, workers, visitors and students,” stated Veronica Vanterpool, executive director for Tri-State. “Requesting the speed cameras around schools is not a mistake to be rectified. It is a measure to be applauded. However, the County went wrong in tying the revenue to County budget holes instead of dedicating the revenue to capital, aesthetic, and livability improvements countywide that would increase traffic safety. If the County wants the public to believe in the benefits of speed cameras, the County must do better to link the problem to the solution, and it did not.”

Tri-State is a non-profit advocacy group that does not receive donations or contributions from companies manufacturing camera technology. Our opinions and advocacy are based on saving lives.

30 Comments on "If Nassau’s Speed Camera Program Is Working, Let It Keep Working"

  1. Dana Morrissey | December 5, 2014 at 9:08 pm |

    This camera program has never been about the children, it was always about revenue for the county. They added projected revenues ($30 million!) to their budgets. If I can’t pay my bills, I don’t extort money from my neighbors to do it. This is a cash grab, plain and simple. Mangano got it almost right- the cameras should be removed entirely.

  2. Speed Cameras are a scam!It causes distractive driving and all about the money Nassau County makes from them.

  3. 70% of a decline ?? Based on what? The program has only been in effect for 3 months Where are they coming up with that number? 1 week before they said they gave out 600,000 tickets & only 1% pled not guilty. They are just making up numbers. But the public can not tell because illegally they have refused FOIL request .These are administrative agencies set up to administer parking programs.The information is public under FOIL.Even if the counties were correct in recasting agencies as part of a court, information still would be public — under a different statute. Also look at the 40% statistic you are using.WE DID. Adults hit at night on Sunrise Hwy ? 1/4 mile is considered a school zone?? What a joke How about using the REAL stats . If you had them you would publish the School. Time Date of a child hit by a car in front of a school. Your agenda of sucking up as much federal ad money is sad & We might be looking into every penny that come to your group & how it is being spent next !!

  4. Stefano Giudici | December 5, 2014 at 9:36 pm |

    Nice try, this has always been about the money AND to use children’s safety as an excuse makes it all the more despicable and completely unethical!
    Its Extortion plain and simple
    There are two crossing guards at my sons school and a speed camera, as I walk with him I see older folks slowly driving by BY NO MEANS are they speeding getting flashed with tickets,
    As a responsible father of two schoolchildren I can tell you its not about safety, they have a tight grip on your wallets and don’t want to give up on some easy money.Those responsible for lowering the quality of life in Nassau county with these sucker punch “Gotcha” scam cams should be punished.

  5. Totally bogus – these cameras are a scam and all about greed. Nothing short of getting rid of these cameras is acceptable to the people of Nassau County!!

  6. This article is a farce. The point of the camera’s are clearly to extort money from Nassau residents. The remedy is to vote out every elected official that voted for it. Balance the budget without ripping us off and using our children safety as an excuse

  7. I would like to see sidewalks, crossing guards and painted crosswalks . Why has nassau county not maintained these but puts cameras instead? This is not about safety but all about money.

  8. Ed

    If you were remotely competent in doing your job then you would eradicate wastage, and save money vs. taxing hard working people

    Shame on you Sir – try living on an average salary

  9. You asked for replies correct?

    Why didn’t you adopt the report that Nassau County PAID for from 2008 titled Pedestrian Accident Study that found the following:

    40% of accidents were results of pedestrian actions such as crossing against walk signals, crossing outside of crosswalks, failure to look when crossing, pedestrian alcohol use?

    That the age group 30-39 years old had the highest incidence of involvement.

    That only 2% (TWO PERCENT) was attributed to speed.

    These facts do not support your conclusions that school zones are safer due to photo enforcement. Proper safety measures would not just be effective but also not bring revenue to fund your goal of subsidizing mass transit which you’ve clearly stated is the core mission of TSTC.

    Try your nonsense somewhere else.

  10. This program is a complete money grab and that is based on the FACT that children were never getting injured in school zones to begin with. If this program were even remotely about safety then the county would have SPENT money on proper sinage and education prior to instuiting a program to ticket drivers. A camera does absolutely nothing to stop a speeding or distracted driver.

    Placing these cameras on busy roads with that have schools that are fenced in with 100% bussed students is one example of greed. Placing said cameras hidden behind trees on the inside of a curved street in front of the very same school even further proves this is about dollars and makes ZERO safety sense. If this were about safety the cameras would be extremely visible directly in front of the schools and marked with lights.

    The traffic studies claiming .25 miles within a school are completely biased to attempt to prove a point and fail miserably. The density of schools in an urban area like Nassau County assures that almost all accidents occur relatively near A school. Many accidents occur within .25 miles of a Starbucks too but does that warrant cameras in front of Starbucks?

    This program is a sad attempt to grab money from local residents and nothing else. School zone safety costs money and the sad fact is the county won’t spend money for the safety of the students. This is clearly the case as there was zero effort put forth to clearly mark these zones with signs and lights prior to putting up cameras.

    Want to slow down drivers in front of schools? Put stop signs at all the entrances. Cars will absolutely slow down but that’s not very profitable, is it?

  11. Sorry. Your group has zero credibility. Let’s see, first, you don’t disclose all of your donors as a 501c3. So there’s no way to verify who you get all of your funding from.

    Second, your group has appeared before lawmakers alongside speed and red light camera industry representatives,as was done in Connecticut, when your group, along with Redflex pushed for the Complete Streets package.

    Third, without being able to look over the methodology and raw data, your study is meaningless. Release the data and let it be independently reviewed if you want it to be taken seriously.

    Fourth, your group has an agenda of reducing the number of cars on the road in order to promote mass transit, walking, biking. It’s the primary reason the group was founded. So when you talk about safety, it’s hard to take you seriously.

  12. Please remove the cameras! People are looking at their speedometers instead of looking for children as they pass a school. It’s only a matter of time before someone, or someone’s child, gets run over because the driver was watching their speedometer to make sure they don’t get a ticket instead of watching for children! Remove the cameras now!

  13. “Since Nassau County’s school zone speed camera program went into effect, there has been a 70 percent decline in violations. ”

    The “Decline” of what violations exactly? From what I understand our village police is not allowed to issue tickets in the vicinity of these cameras. Does that account for the decline of Violation?

    If they have a 70% decline in violations from the first month of the ticket
    blitz maybe that is do to the FACT that there were no signs and people didn’t know about the cameras. Or perhaps it’s due the the fact THAT THE RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC HAS MOVED ONTO OUR RESIDENTIAL SIDE STREETS as a result. They never factored in GPS re-routing of daily commutes. No the actually residential streets ours walk and cross to actually get to school have become a danger because all the traffic trying to avoid the cameras is flooding them!

    “Safety programs, by definition, should be put into place to prevent injury, not to react to injury. ” Give me a break.

    *****You are using our child for political defense of a veiled commuters TAX.*****

    SHAME ON YOU!

    If they really cared about school safety and our kids they would installed speed bumps in front of ALL Schools and with flashing yellow lights. Not just the select few that would raise the most revenue from tickets because they are on main roads and commuters are unaware of the cameras because the signage is so small.

  14. Scott Gaines | December 5, 2014 at 10:59 pm |

    These cameras are nothing more than money machines. If Mr. Mangano was serious about child safety, he wouldn’t have taken the Motorcycle Platoon officers OFF THE STREETS and put them onto the Long Island Expressway to do HOV lane enforcement.

    Those Motorcycle officers were very visible, and had an excellent effect on drivers. You saw them out there enforcing the vehicle laws, and if you got stopped by one, you knew immediately what the violation was. None of this idiotic waiting for two weeks for a letter in the mail.

    The problem was the Motorcycle officers just didn’t generate enough revenue on the streets, so they had to go.

    If Mangano, and you people, were serious, you’d push for speed bumps around the schools. New York City uses these, to great effect. They work, but they generate zero dollars.

    As far as your assertions about pedestrian fatalities, that is a specious argument at best. With the amount of schools of all types in Nassau County, almost everywhere is within a quarter mile of a school.

    What you should be asking is why the cameras weren’t placed where accidents DID occur.

    One such accident was a hit and run years back, right by the Bethpage High School, on Stewart Avenue, near the intersection with Sycamore Avenue. A high school student was struck and seriously injured there. Now anyone who drives on Stewart Avenue knows it is a speed zone. Cars fly their.

    In fact, a few years back, three Bethpage High School students were killed in a car accident just about 500 feet South of the intersection of Stewart and Sycamore. There is still a little memorial on one of the poles there.

    Why wasn’t the speed camera put there? You have dozens, if not hundreds, of school students using the crosswalk there to get to the school. That would have been an obvious choice for a location.

    Instead, they will place the camera by the Charles Campagne School on Plainview Rd. Where there have been exactly ZERO accidents.

    And let’s talk about the legality of these tickets. The radar is mounted on poles or those vans, and they must shoot the radar across oncoming traffic to pick up the traffic heading away. And the radar CAN NOT differentiate oncoming and receding traffic.

    I worked as an NYPD Highway Patrol officer for 18 years. I actually used radar. I KNOW what they are doing is faulty. If a cop tried to testify to this setup in court, the judge would toss the case as soon as the cop mentioned shooting across oncoming traffic.

    But hey, keep kidding yourself that it’s about safety. Keep shilling for Mangano. It’s a tax, it’s faulty, and it is time for this poor idea to go the way of the Edsel.

  15. Voley Martin | December 5, 2014 at 11:36 pm |

    Simply remove these cameras. They are an abomination. That is all.

  16. Kristin Gornell | December 6, 2014 at 7:46 am |

    If it was truly about safety, the approach would have been much different. Flashing yellow lights get people’s attention SAFELY, without requiring them to read the small print on signs. It would let drivers know they are in a school zone (similar to the warnings at railroad crossings and firehouses)and that children are arriving or leaving school. Speed bumps in addition would also serve as a safe notification. I have lived in Nassau County my entire life and there has NEVER been any clear indication as to if or when the limit applies so I have ALWAYS felt the need the obey the signs even though it might have been 10 PM on a summer night. I think the public deserves to have this law clarified and to post appropriate warning zones so that even those who are not familiar with the area can recognize a slower driving zone. The way this whole thing was approached and if anyone read the papers, it was clear that the county had not budgeted for the increase in pay for the county workers and that this was how they were paying for it because anyone who knows Ed Mangano knows his claim to fame is that he does not raise taxes! This action shows Ed’s true colors!

  17. Paul Simmons | December 6, 2014 at 8:16 am |

    If this speed camera program is about “THE CHILDREN” why haven’t towns with out them begging to have them installed to “SAVE THEIR CHILDREN”? A total cash grab from the start. Mangano and his party are history unless they remove these things ASAP!

  18. Christopher Wrigley | December 6, 2014 at 9:03 am |

    The only way these cameras could be considered ‘Working’, is if there were less school children hit by vehicles in school zones since their installation. Being there were none previously, no they are not working.

  19. cynthia kouril | December 6, 2014 at 9:11 am |

    If you want traffic calming near schools, put in speed bumps or speed tables. Everybody slows down, nobody is starting at the flashing lights instead of looking out for pedestrians. No need for tickets. Low tech, less expensive and more effective.

  20. Clear as day this is a simple plan to extort money from Nassau residents while playing on our emotions to “protect our children”.
    You want to keep the cameras since you already spent a boat load to have them installed – put rumble strips before the school zones to warn motorists and make the summons threshold for EXCESSIVE speed (say a 40 in a 20). But that won’t happen because you’re company and the county gov’t won’t meet their “revenue goals” that way.

  21. Federal DOT suggests traffic calming measures none of them being speed camera enforcement. Why doesn’t this advocacy group accept the word of experts?

  22. Since receiving 2 of those stupid SCAMera tickets, I look more at my speedometer, than to see if there are any kids crossing. These are going to cause accidents!

  23. Susan Naftol | December 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm |

    I think this whole program is so obviously a ‘cash grab’ from a County with a serious cash flow problem. It is deplorable to use a program as a veiled tax to help balance a budget and then say it is about the children! My district busses 100% of the children in all grades yet has TWO cameras! How is this about ‘safety for the children’? The only school where children actually cross a street is the high school where students park in the public pool parking lot and then cross the the school but of course, there is no camera there. The legislators picked well trafficked roads, like the service road of the LIE by Great Neck South HS where NO students walk or cross and then try to say this is about safety and not a ‘money grab’. Do they really think we are that stupid? When many of us have tried to ask for information under FOIL, we have been denied- this is illegal. This entire program needs to go! And the statistics that are quoted in the blog post?? How about more information like: day of the week, time. If these accidents were on the weekend or after school hours- guess what, the should not be counted in your presumption of fact. How about that infamous 1/4 of a mile of school statement? How many kids walk that far in elementary school or other schools in Nassau? I think if we had a chance to look into these cases of pedestrian accidents, most of them would not be children, walking to or from school, and certainly not during school hours but wait– we don’t have that information.

  24. As mentioned by other posters, TSTC has such an obvious agenda its comical

    According to one study, 40% of Pedestrians (not children) get hit within .25 miles of a school (no mention of the time, date, whether or not school is in session, alcohol involvement, speed involvement, etc etc is ever given) Nassau County uses this study to “show” that kids are dropping like flies as they walk to school. Nassau County ignores all requests for the complete data for this study and continually rams it down everyone’s throat instead of answering peoples questions.

    IF they really wanted to keep kids safe, they would install flashing lights to alert drivers of school zones so they do not have to constantly look on the side of the road for hidden school speed signs. They would put speed bumps on the road, they would notify speeders quickly so they can change their driving habits before hey get 5 violations in the mail

    Another TSTC study shows that bus stops are far more dangerous than school zones for pedestrians. Why not put up speed cameras there? Why not put up jay walking cameras all over the place. Nothing says I love you more than cameras spying on the good people of Nassau County going about their every day business.
    http://blog.tstc.org/2013/05/20/increased-focus-on-pedestrian-safety-around-transit-needed-in-connecticut-and-nassau-county/

  25. Brian Albert | December 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm |

    These cameras violate our constitutional right to due process. You get accused of a crime by a machine, you get the notice in the mail weeks later, and you can’t challenge the validity of the data. It is assumed to be 100% accurate. I got a ticket for a “violation” on a time and date in which a) no kids were anywhere near the school, and b) I’m almost 100% certain that I was not there. Police officers take an oath to defend the constitution, these cameras don’t. A police officer will show up in court if you plead not guilty, the camera company does not. The cameras are run by an out-of-state for-profit company that gets a substantial cut of every ticket. Big conflict of interest! If school safety is the issue, put flashing lights and large signs up. No, this is a money-making racket, so we get small and obscure signs to maximize revenue. Don’t be fooled. It’s not about the kids. It’s about the case.

  26. Anessa Cohen | December 7, 2014 at 10:54 am |

    Although it is commendable that you applaud a “70% decline” in speeding in school zones, the 70% that you post is based on the number of tickets that were given out for the school camera program as opposed to the total number of cars passing by those areas – aka it translates into 70% of the cars driving in those areas were ticketed therefore this will mean a 70% decline in speeders – definitely a false claim put out there by politicians trying to cover for greed and a gross error in judgment which caused grievous harm to the public they are claiming to protect as well as presenting a flawed program to that same public in the name of protecting school children which really was meant to raise monies for the coffers by setting up the public.

    There is nothing wrong with setting up a program geared to protect our school children’s safety when it is done in a properly presented fashion. This includes setting up large signs that drivers can see, not just signs that are half hidden behind trees on large busy trees that drivers unaware that there are schools nearby will not see. If they want to set up cameras – yes this can be done after setting up the parameters together with the signs and times posted when slowing down in necessary. When all of this is done and the public is notified of the commencement of this program then yes this is commendable – not done on the sneak with small signs posted where only people who have walked by them by chance can see them so that huge amounts of money can be netted quickly. There is no question by anyone that this program was begun in this manner in order to realize fast money by those politicians who should know better – and that is the same as fraud. All tickets prior to the posting of proper signs and notification should be waived immediately with the program set up properly with all flaws corrected and put into effect properly before even considering ticketing speeders. Only then should tickets be given – this is the right way of doing things!

  27. My fellow Nassau County residents, December 15th will be a hearing on these cameras. let us be there and voice our objections rather than just posting here.
    This issue is the Republican’s “Obamacare,” which I will remind them of on election day 2016.

  28. Very typical of those breaking the law to call the speed cameras a “cash grab”. They want law-abiding citizens to pay for the crashes they cause with higher insurance premiums, and with personal harm. Pathetic!

  29. I’m just glad I live in NYC where we know how to run camera programs, and politicians don’t blatently pander to anti safety types when elections loom.

    Nassau and Suffolk County (and for that matter, New Jersey, too) fumbled this thing terribly. What they did serves as a primer on how not to run a safety camera program.

  30. I received TWO tickets within a span of a week. I had no idea about the cameras. There was no “speed cameras” sign until a month later. I requested a hearing date. NEVER got a hearing date, just a notice saying I failed to appear in court and I’m guilty!?? S-C-A-M.

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