The World’s Largest Speed Trap—New York City

New York City is known for many things, good and bad, but now has the distinction of the speed camera capital of the world—basically, one giant speed trap. In September, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s Department of Transportation had achieved the goal of installing 950-speed cameras total in 750 school zones throughout the five boroughs. Two thousand speed cameras are expected by the end of 2021.


Credit: Another Believer

In July 2019, the number of school zones permitted to operate speed cameras increased from 140 to 750. Cameras operate year-round on weekdays from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

Due to the new law, cameras can now be placed within a quarter-mile radial distance from a school. The previous law required that cameras only be placed a quarter-mile of the school along an abutted street.

Motorists exceeding the speed limit of more than 10 mph will receive an automated ticket with a fine of $50.

As many readers of this blog now, where there are automated camera devices, there are problems.


Credit: Tdorante10

In mid-September, motorists driving on Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island were ticketed even if they were traveling within the legal limit. NYC Councilman Steven Matteo reported that he had received numerous complaints from residents who claimed to have this happen even though, as mentioned before, a ticket should not be even issued unless a motorist is traveling 10 mph over the posted speed limit. The Hyland Blvd. speed limit is 35 mph. According to the DOT, the speed camera installed on August 31st was mistakenly set by the contractor at 30 mph. The camera has since been turned off until recalibration occurs (might be turned on again, so beware), and drivers who received a ticket are advised to plead “Not Guilty” and should have their violation dismissed according to Councilman Matteo. He also added if you already paid the fine, you should get it back and if you don’t contact him directly at [email protected].

But as anyone who has ever tried to fight a traffic ticket in NYC, good luck with exercising your rights in traffic court or getting any money back for this obvious problem.

Tom Wrobleski recently wrote an opinion piece for the Staten Island Advance in which he said he feels like many of the speed cameras are close to intersections to nail drivers who are speeding to make it through the light before it turns red. He says that, of course, people shouldn’t speed because it is dangerous. He added:

“But here’s the thing: The city is lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 on nine streets in the city, including on Targee Street from West Fingerboard Road to Broad Street.

It’s getting to the point where you almost can’t help but speed in some areas because the limits are so low. It’s getting tougher to be a law-abiding motorist. And that’s just where they want you.

Here’s the pretzel logic of it all: City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says that the cameras have demonstrably reduced speeds. We, therefore, need more of them to maintain that success. And we also need to lower speed limits.

But the exact opposite would also be true in de Blasio and Trottenberg’s world: If the cameras had done nothing to improve road safety, we’d need more of them. And we’d need lower speed limits as well. We’d have to work even harder to meet Vision Zero goals.

If you really want to stick it to de Blasio, then don’t speed. Starve the city of the ticket revenue.

The cameras are there to generate free money for the city. Because speeding isn’t the top cause of crashes in the city. Distracted driving is. It isn’t even close.

Speed cameras don’t address the main cause of collisions. They’re just ATMs for the city treasury.

Don’t contribute.”

That’s one way of looking at the situation, perhaps. What do you think?  Write your comment below.

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