NYC officials promise historic crackdown on speeding drivers as school year kicks off

Originally published in NY Daily News

Slow down in school zones or expect a ticket blitz, city officials warned Wednesday.

Ahead of Thursday’s start of the new school at public schools, officials from the city Department of Transportation and NYPD announced an expanded network of cameras and new commitments to crack down on motorists who speed past schools.

State legislation passed over the summer allows the DOT to place speed enforcement cameras near 750 schools. The cameras were previously limited to 140 zones, and DOT has already expanded the technology for an additional 120 areas across the five boroughs.

“Speeding is an epidemic,” said State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn), who sponsored the camera expansion bill. “It is a huge problem in our streets. We have to engage in a massive culture change to get everyone to slow the heck down.”

Drivers who blow the citywide 25 mph speed limit by at least 10 mph near one of the cameras will be mailed a $50 ticket. The cameras are working seven days a week from 6 a.m. and 10 p.m..

According to the DOT, the speed cameras led to nearly 200,000 tickets in July alone, significantly more than the roughly 140,000 speeding tickets cops doled out in all of 2018.

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan highlighted a series of traffic enforcement initiatives launched this year, and said traffic cops will be in place at schools across the city.

“Throughout the month of September, the NYPD will be assigning officers for the enforcement of safety violations, including speeding, failure to yield to a pedestrian, texting while driving, and illegal cell phone use,” Chan said.

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DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray said the city will hit the limit of 750 school zones with speed cameras by next June. The money raked in by the cameras will help pay for street safety programs, like Mayor de Blasio’s plan to rapidly expand the city’s network of protected bike lanes.

Families for Safe Streets co-founder Amy Cohen said the point of the cameras isn’t to make money — it’s to keep children from being killed in car crashes.

“We have a culture of recklessness on our streets,” said Cohen. “Speed safety cameras are the antidote to that recklessness.”