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Future of speed cameras in NYC rests in lawmakers’ hands

Speed cameras have had a big impact on drivers near New York City schools.

Since they were first installed in 2014, the number of drivers caught on camera while speeding has dropped more than 60 percent across the city, which means drivers are slowing down near schools. The number of fatal crashes near schools have dropped almost 25 percent.

"The speed safety cameras save lives. They prevent injuries," said Marco Conner, the legislative and legal director for Transportation Alternatives.

Based on the track record, the organization is urging lawmakers to expand the program from the 140 cameras currently allowed in New York City.

"Stop the current situation where the city is forced to ration this proven solution to an epidemic," Conner said.

While there's no denying the cameras have been effective, there is still some doubt about whether they'll continue to exist in the future due to politics in Albany.

"There's a lot of counties we have across this great state and they don't want anything to do with these cameras," State Sen. Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn) said.

If the speed camera program is going to continue, lawmakers must approve it by the end of session next month.

While supporters initially hoped to increased the number of cameras to 700, a new bill sponsored by Golden, with bipartisan support, would increase the number of cameras to just under 300.

"I think it's something that has come of age and I think we need it," Golden said. "I think it's something that people here in the city are looking forward to seeing passed."

Opponents have argued that speed cameras are nothing more than a trap for unsuspecting drivers. The cameras kick in when drivers are going 11 mph or more over the speed limit.

So far, the city has collected more than $122 million from the violation, which cost drivers $50 each time.

Conner said it's a small price to pay to keep our streets safe.

"Speeding is a leading cause of preventable injuries to New York City children," he said. "These cameras are about safety and protecting lives."