Long Island Pols Backtrack on Speed Cams, Play Politics With People’s Lives

With a presumed re-election bid coming in 2015, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has determined his political career is more important than people’s safety.

Suffolk County Exec Steve Bellone: pandering to motorists who insist on putting children's lives at risk. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/stevebellone##@StreveBellone##
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone: pandering to motorists who insist on putting children’s lives at risk. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/stevebellone##@StreveBellone##

Bowing to people who believe they should be able to do whatever they want behind the wheel, Bellone has joined other Suffolk and Nassau lawmakers in opposing school zone speed cameras, and says he will kill the Suffolk program ahead of a planned 2015 rollout.

County legislators, the majority of them Republican, will hold a hearing next week on a measure to repeal the Nassau program. However, Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who holds veto power, has spoken in favor of the cameras.

Newsday notes that the cameras passed earlier this year with near-unanimous support among Suffolk lawmakers, including Bellone, a Democrat who lobbied Albany for authorization. “Speed cameras are used in cities across the nation and have proved effective in reducing traffic accidents and saving lives,” he said at the time.

Reversing himself, Bellone tweeted Monday that his decision “comes after a year of research [and] analysis of programs throughout the nation.” But research overwhelmingly finds that speed cameras improve street safety. A 2010 review of dozens of studies concluded that speed cameras typically reduce fatality rates by 30 to 40 percent. Mangano says tickets issued by cameras declined 70 percent from September to November, indicating that the Nassau program is succeeding in slowing motorists near schools.

In large part because they are getting the job done, Long Island speed cameras have become a political football. After Nassau drivers griped about the $80 tickets, Democratic and Republican legislators in both counties backtracked, and are now racing to claim credit for spiking their respective programs. While Mangano, whose current term runs through 2017, acknowledged the cameras are working, last week he cut their hours of operation from 11 hours a day to just four.

Bellone’s move, meanwhile, is preemptive. Suffolk wasn’t scheduled to start using cameras until next fall, giving the county time to prepare in a way that Nassau didn’t, says Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

In New York City, Vanterpool points out, the Department of Transportation collected data on the prevalence of speeding near schools well in advance of camera implementation. The city held press conferences and conducted other public outreach explaining why cameras were necessary. In addition to driver education, Vanterpool says Suffolk could allocate a portion of revenues to safety improvements around schools. “If you tie it to that, people think it’s less of a money grab.”

Nassau County drivers, who are only ticketed when speeding by 11 or more miles per hour in school zones, complained that cameras were installed without warning signs or flashing lights. Nassau Democrat Judy Jacobs told Newsday the “whole program has been unfair.” Nassau would owe $3 million in vendor termination fees if electeds end the speed camera program.

“This is a mechanism to enforce the law,” says Vanterpool. “People know you shouldn’t be going 50 miles per hour in a school zone. They’re mad that they got caught.”

  • No, but the amount of lives these cameras are allegedly saving is way overstated. A analysis by Newsday found no such accidents between 2009 and 2013 in 57 of the 76 school zones the county has said it is monitoring with speed cameras, and a total of 23 crashes in the other 19 monitored locations over the five-year period Newsday analyzed.

    Further reading: Accident data doesn’t support school zone speed camera locations, Newsday analysis shows

  • Bolwerk
  • ahwr

    http://project.wnyc.org/traffic-deaths/

    Uddin was killed going home after school, wasn’t in his school’s school zone but was close to other schools.

    Ramos was killed just outside her school.

    Soto was going to his school bus.

    You’re right. Most children killed in car crashes in nyc die away from their schools, at night, or on weekends.

    I thought the reports were mixed as to who had the light in the second crash with tarlov, did nypd ever issue a report on the matter? In the first fatal bike/ped crash in CP this year were they near a traffic light?

  • There was a grand jury, and everything followed the due process of law. No rights were denied to anyone. People might be unhappy with the outcome, but that’s the decision the jury came to…

  • Bolwerk

    The executed guy might disagree, but I guess can’t on account of being dead.

  • Alicia

    Ocschwar does your Mother know your using her computer ? …I said nothing that in anyway was disrespectful,

    Do you bother reading your posts before posting?

  • Alicia

    And bicyclists running lights and smashing into pedestrians doesn’t kill anyone?

    It’s exceedingly rare. Happens a handful of times a year. Whereas, several people are killed in car crashes every single day. Notice, you have to go back three months to find a case of a biker killing a pedestrian.

    There are more cases than that of children killed in school zones, like this one from last week:
    http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/11049245-123/la-74-closed-in-both

  • It’s not about breaking the law or safety for you. You don’t like cars. You will not be happy until all cars are gone from New York. Admit it.

  • I am cool with that. If you don’t like my driving, stay off the sidewalk.

  • Maggie

    Again, for heavens sake. Long Island drivers are detouring, rather than slow to within 10 miles or less of the speed limit in front of an elementary school, and that suggests that the drivers are so safe that there’s no need for law enforcement, but so unable to obey the law that there should be big flashing signs to help them do it, but also there isn’t really any issue with crashes and injured people on Long Island, but also there have been three crashes at a recent side street?

  • Brad Aaron

    His lordship, whoever he was, has been banished from Streetsblog.

  • Maggie

    Good thing reckless driving in Suffolk County isn’t really a thing where anyone’s in danger.

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/08/05/sign-honoring-hit-run-victim-in-the-hamptons-to-be-taken-down-following-complaints/

  • Brad Aaron

    This thread is closed.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

So Far Suburban Opposition to Safety Cameras Isn’t Playing in NYC

|
Well, that was quick. Two nascent safety camera programs on Long Island have been shut down, despite demonstrable success in Nassau, after elected officials turned tail in response to complaints from law-breaking motorists. Meanwhile, red light cameras in New Jersey were turned off this week after that state’s five-year demonstration failed to secure renewal in the legislature. […]

Safety of NYC Streets Again Depends on State Senator Marty Golden

|
The Assembly yesterday passed legislation that would expand NYC’s speed camera program by 120 cameras, bringing the total to 140. The bill, which also allows speed cameras in Nassau and Suffolk counties, was referred to the Senate rules committee this morning, bypassing the transportation committee. Rules is the last stop before a bill moves to the floor […]