By Anessa V. Cohen
There is an old expression that is used when someone believes a convoluted story that is obviously fake—“If you buy that, I have a bridge I can sell you!”
This is what our political officials—I will leave names out and just say the guys at the top and our legislature—have been trying to sell us when they tell us that they instituted the School Zone Camera Program to catch “speeders.”
If this program were instituted properly and with the altruistic intent of providing the best in safety options for our children and for the public, I would be the first to say “kol ha’kavod—hurray for safety!” But this was not the case. What was done here should shame every public official who agreed to this underhanded scheme in the name of public safety.
What actually transpired with this School Zone Camera Program was that our officials realized that the treasuries were financially in the red, and they needed a quick fix to fill the coffers. They conspired to put these cameras near schools, but with no signs or just small or hidden signs as notification, which were virtually unseen by motorists driving by. If a street had a 30- or 35-mph speed limit and a motorist was driving straight, he would suddenly—unknowingly—be photographed by a camera hidden in a small area where it was determined that a school zone exists. Then these motorists, who were driving 30–35 miles per hour, would receive tickets in the mail stating that they were caught by camera speeding in a school zone, and therefore they should pay $80 per ticket for speeding.
Officials never announced the start of this program, nor did they post in advance large signs visible to motorists, which would give drivers a chance to slow down prior to reaching these school zones. They did not install blinking lights as a warning that the drivers would be entering a school zone. These failures were intentional—all with the idea of being able to net enough cars through these school-zone cameras before anyone knew of the program’s existence, so they could raise monies quickly to dump in the treasury coffers.
To add insult to injury, after netting all these drivers, they thought that all of these people would just quietly pay the tickets and go away; after they raised enough money from gouging the hundreds of drivers they caught, they would then install what they should have in the first place—large signs and blinking lights, warning drivers that they were entering a school zone and must slow down to 20 mph, and that there were cameras there as well.
If this were not enough, when public outrage started to swell, officials circulated a new story to try and soften the public anger being waged against them—“70% Reduction in Speeders due to New School Camera Program” was the next headline they presented. Again, I wonder, do they think we all fell off the turnip truck yesterday? Sure, there was a 70% reduction since they netted and ticketed 70% of the motorists driving those streets and made off like bandits robbing a bank!
There is nothing wrong with setting up a program geared to protecting our schoolchildren’s safety. This includes putting up large signs that motorists can easily see, not signs that are half-hidden behind trees on large, busy streets. When presented in a proper fashion, and the public is notified of its commencement, then such an initiative is commendable.
There is no question that this program was instigated in this underhanded manner in order to realize fast money by taking advantage of a situation where motorists typically were unaware of approaching school zones and the need to slow down; that is the same as fraud, and those politicians should know better. If our politicians were so concerned with our children’s safety, they would have implemented this on all roads surrounding the schools as well, not just on busy thoroughfares where motorists were typically unaware of schools in the area. This was just another gimmick for netting money quickly without informing the public of their need to raise monies for the county.
All tickets issued prior to the posting of proper signs and notification should be waived immediately until the program is set up properly—with all flaws corrected, and signs and blinking lights installed where motorists will see them and have the time to slow down before approaching any school zones on those thoroughfares. All this should be put into effect properly before even considering ticketing speeders. Only then should tickets be given. That would be the right way of doing things! v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.