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NYC installs maximum amount of speed cameras near schools

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NEW YORK — It's about that time again, when more than 1-million public school students return to class.

With so many kids filling busy city streets accidents can happen in a flash.

Which is why the Department of Transportation wanted to install speed cameras near schools throughout the city.

"Speed cameras located near schools around the five boroughs will deter speeding and protect children as they travel to and from school everyday," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

For the start of the school year there will be 140 cameras, the maximum allowed by the state, catching speeders in the act.

100 will sit in fixed locations, 40 will sit in cars that move around as needed.

But Commissioner Trottenberg says the effect will be felt throughout the city.

"Speed cameras encourage drivers to slow down all over the city and so there's a benefit for all of us," she said.

Last September, on average, cameras caught 192 speeders per day. Last month, that number fell to just 69, a drop of more than 60%. Assemblywoman Deborah Glick says she hopes the reduction isn't just caused by drivers remembering the camera locations, but rather, modifying their driving habits.

"Because people sometimes get stuck in traffic, they get frustrated, and as soon as they have an opportunity they floor it," said Glick.

"If this stops that, it's going to make my life much easier because I will have fewer and fewer moments where I gasp at the close calls," said George Davison, Head of Grace Church School on the Lower East Side.

Speed camera opponents argue the cameras are traps used to raise revenue for the city.

So far this year, the cameras caught more than 500,000 speeders generating $21-million.

But advocates say the issue isn't about money, it's about safety.

"We'd be all to happy with zero revenue from these cameras because that means our kids are safe and people aren't speeding around schools," said Paul Steely White, Director of Transportation Alternatives.

The DOT says will take more time to collect data on injuries and fatalities around these speed cameras.  But if the cameras are shown to prevent deaths, elected officials said they'll push Albany to expand the program throughout the city.