Speed camera enforcement near city schools will go into effect on the first day of classes, officials announced Monday.
As part of a five-year program, the city's Department of Transportation will install cameras at 20 locations near high crash locations within a quarter mile of city schools. Enforcement will go into effect on the first day of school, Sept. 9, when motorists risk $50 fines for driving 10 miles or more over the speed limit.
While traffic fatalities have decreased in recent years, speeding was the contributing factor in 81 fatal traffic accidents last year. Fatal hit-and-run crashes still increased by 31 percent between 2010 and 2012.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that keeping streets safe for everyone is one of the "most important public safety challenges" faced by any government.
"Curbing speeding around schools will help us continue to make our city's streets safer for everyone," Bloomberg said in a statement.
Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives applauded the program, but lamented its small-scale.
"We look forward to the day when every school has the same protection against reckless drivers," Executive Director Paul Steely White said in a statement.
Officials said curbing speeding is particularly important to save the lives of children. If a child is hit by a car at 40 miles per hour, there is a 70 percent chance they will be killed. At the city's speed limit, 30 miles per hour, a child has an 80 percent chance of survival.
"Thanks to these new cameras, students across New York City will return to much safer school zones," Bronx state Sen. Jeffery Klein said in a statement.
The program results from legislation sponsored by Klein and State Assembly Member Deborah Glick that was passed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the beginning of the month.
The law allows the city to change the location of the cameras. Camera locations will be determined by crash and injury data, speeding rates and road geometry.
In the program's first weeks, motorists driving 10 or more miles above the speed limit will only get warnings — but the grace period won't last long.
Motorists need to learn a "critical lesson," Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement.
The city's speed limit, she said, is "literally the difference between life and death."
The city already operates red light cameras at 150 intersections in the five boroughs, all of which have led to reductions in motorists speeding past the red light, officials said.
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