- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York’s state Assembly authorized hundreds of new speed cameras for school zones in New York City and Long Island Monday, endorsing a key part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to reduce traffic fatalities.

The legislation, which now awaits Senate consideration, would allow up to 69 cameras near schools in Suffolk County and 56 in Nassau County. New York City already has 20 of the cameras and could get up to 120 more.

Speeding drivers caught by the cameras would be mailed $50 tickets, but the infraction would not impact their auto insurance rates. The cameras would be activated during and immediately before and after school days and events.

Speed cameras would raise millions of dollars in revenue for local governments, but supporters argue safety is the primary objective.

“This bill will truly save lives,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement after the Assembly vote. “Speeding is one of the primary causes of pedestrian fatalities, and addressing this epidemic has been a priority for my administration from the beginning. We can no longer accept these fatalities as inevitable.

Critics question the value of cameras as an alternative to uniformed police officers and suggested revenue was the true motivation.

“It’s government attempting to entrap its citizens,” said Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, a Suffolk County Republican. “This is a ruse. It’s all about raising money.”

The Senate is expected to take up the legislation soon. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports the bill.

The devices are expected to raise as much as $50 million or more for cash-strapped Nassau County, which declared a fiscal emergency in 2011 and has been under a state-imposed financial authority for more than a decade. Officials plan to use the money to help lift a wage freeze on county workers.

Suffolk County officials estimated this year that 20 speed cameras would raise $2 million a year.

Monday’s Assembly vote was 103-24 in favor of the bill.

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