Critics call it a cash grab, backers say it’ll protect children and since New York State lawmakers approved Long Island school-zone speed cameras, drivers can call it a reason to slow down.

The state Senate voted Wednesday to authorize 69 speed cameras in Suffolk County, 56 in Nassau and 120 more in New York City, where 20 were installed last year. The state Assembly passed the same measure two days prior and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law.

“Speed cameras will help keep drivers accountable for the safety of our children,” said Assembly Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), adding that they “will save lives and prevent families from suffering as a result of a tragic traffic-related fatality.”

Speed cameras are also in use in Utah, California, Arizona and parts of Canada.

When the cameras catch drivers speeding, the registered owner of the vehicle will be mailed a $50 fine—same as the red-light cameras deployed in recent years on LI—and will increase by $25 for failure to pay.

The law passed days before the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, that county’s fiscal control board, is scheduled to meet Friday to decide whether to approve Nassau’s agreement with its unions to end its three-year wage freeze, which the speed-camera revenue is supposed to help fund.

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Critics have said that the revenue projections have been overly optimistic and will decrease over time as drivers correct their behavior, as has happened with the red-light cameras. Questions have also arisen on whether the speed cameras will be set to operate during summer school, during after-school activities when the school speed restrictions run beyond the traditional 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and how much money the counties will actually get after the companies that operate the cameras take their cut.

The state Legislature made the speed cameras a pilot program that will require reauthorization in four years. It was not immediately clear when each county will hire a company to install the new cameras.



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Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.