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Hold your horses NYC — it’s time to adopt a better speed radar service

DDP Law | Flickr

The implementation of speed cameras in New York City was a great success. The original program, a pilot program under New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, was set to expire over the summer. When it did expire, causing the cameras to “go dark,” drivers were able to speed freely in school zones, The New York Times reports.

The New York state legislature immediately worked on a bill to renew the speed camera program and improve it to add additional coverage. Under the new program, which passed and went into effect during July 2019, every elementary, junior high school and high school in the city will have speed cameras around it, The Times also stated.

Speed cameras are an excellent way to prevent drivers from driving down a street at great speeds, especially near a school where children can be oblivious to the road and street signs, but there are some flaws in the implementation of speed cameras. 

At the end of the day, the purpose of speed cameras is to force drivers to slow down, something one might still not do if they are not aware that a camera is present. 

Throughout New York City, there are signs placed to inform people about the enforcement of these cameras. These signs, however, are very general, only informing someone driving throughout the city that speed cameras are present somewhere, rather than telling them the specific areas where cameras are present. 

In school zones, there are simply signs that indicate a decrease in the speed limit, but there is no information about a camera being present. If someone really does not care about traffic safety, they will continue to speed down the road, school zone or not. 

Seattle has a system in place in which a light, when flashing, signals to drivers that they are in a school zone with a speed camera, and that they need to slow down. 

This is a much more efficient system, as drivers will have the additional monetary incentive to slow down, on top of being within a school zone. A sign reading “speed radar ahead” would also be enough to make people slow down, which is the ultimate goal the New York government aims to accomplish. 

This signage would also extend to cameras not within school zones. There are cameras all around  the city, and navigation apps like Google Maps or Waze are able to warn drivers of their existence in addition to giving directions. 

However, if someone is driving without a navigation app present, they might not know a camera is up ahead and will end up paying the fine. 

This fine is more than all right, as the driver was breaking the law; however, they will continue breaking the law because they do not know that they received a speeding ticket until a week later, when it comes in the mail. 

At the end of the day, the reckless driver will be punished, but they will continue to speed down the road afterward. Implementing signs or lights warning drivers to slow down would achieve that goal exactly. 

A driver would know that there is a camera ahead and slow down to avoid paying the fine. 

Even if the slowdown is temporary, it is still better than no slowdown at all. If the purpose of speed cameras, rather than driving dollars into the city, is to actually help with pedestrian safety and have drivers be more cautious on the road, signs should be placed indicating that drivers slow down in the presence of a speed camera. 

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