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Speed cameras near NYC schools approved

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Six schools sit within a quarter-mile radius of 66 Park Avenue in Brooklyn. Shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday, Fox 5 -- with the aid of a speed gun -- witnessed vehicles passing that address at speeds 15, 16 and 17 mph faster than the legal limit.

"In order to save lives we should be paying closer attention to our speedometers," said Juan Martinez, the general counsel for Transportation Alternatives, which has advocated for speed cameras on New York City streets for the past decade. That crusade is set to finally come to an end, thanks to new legislation later this year.

"It would be wonderful if we never ticketed anyone," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference Tuesday. "And in that sense, the speed cameras will have paid for themselves, maybe not in dollars but in lives saved."

The city plans to install 20 cameras, all near schools. Radar will track speed, lenses will capture license plates, and $50 tickets will punish offenders.

"Too many drivers try to pull a fast one on streets near New York City schools," Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.

According to the mayor's office, even driving 40 mph instead of the posted 30 mph lowers a child's chance of survival if struck by 50 percent.

The speed limit on Park Avenue in Brooklyn is 30 mph. But in just 10 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, Fox 5 recorded speeds of 43, 40 and 47 mph.

"You can't put speed bumps on this avenue," Martinez said. "You can't narrow this street."

But now the city can install those speed cameras and then move them around as it sees fit, in hopes of deterring would-be speeders no matter where they're driving.

"[Drivers] have to assume there's a camera there," Bloomberg said.

New York City traffic fatalities reached all-time lows in the last five years, but speeding still remains the single greatest factor in traffic deaths.

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State lawmakers have passed a bill allowing cameras near 20 city schools with documented speeding issues.

Speeding is cited as the single greatest contributing factor in city traffic fatalities.

The bill authorizes $50 fines for "dangerous"speeding along with existing red-light cameras and continuing aggressive enforcement of traffic laws, will help maintain the record traffic safety gains in the city.

"Over the past decade, traffic fatalities in New York City have fallen by more than 30 percent, reaching all-time record lows," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  "But speeding remains the single greatest contributing factor in traffic fatalities in New York City."

New York City has recorded historic low traffic fatalities in the last five years and has fatality rates less than one-third of the national average and half that of other big cities, but speeding remains the greatest single factor in traffic deaths, contributing to 81 fatal traffic crashes in 2012 -- approximately 30 percent of all traffic fatalities.

The city is currently authorized to use re-light cameras at 150 locations.

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