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Bill would establish pilot program on speed cameras

Those who speed through construction zones may find themselves on the receiving end of a ticket even if there are no police cruisers nearby.

Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, recently sponsored A.8832 to amend the state Vehicle and Traffic Law and the Public Officers’ Law to establish a demonstration program implementing speed cameras in work zones.

Magnarelli said state Transportation Department statistics showed there were 3,450 accidents in work zones on state highways from 2010-16, 50 of them fatal and more than 1,100 of them injuring motorists or workers.

He also pointed to a similar program that began in Maryland in 2010 that reportedly resulted in a 10% reduction in driver speeds, a 59% reduction in the chance of a driver going more than 10 miles an hour over the speed limit, a 39% reduction in the chances of an accident resulting in incapacitating injury and a 45% reduction in the number of fatalities from accidents that happened in work zones.

“This bill establishes a pilot program with a narrow enough scope to record strong data regarding the efficacy of using speed cameras in work zones to influence driver behavior,” Magnarelli wrote in his legislative justification. “Worker safety is of paramount importance, especially as the State continues to invest in repaving our roads and highways. The program will determine whether automatic enforcement mechanisms work in the context of work zones, whether stronger enforcement produces better outcomes for injury and fatalities, and whether money can be saved be reducing the labor costs associated with manual enforcement.”

The legislation stipulates that work zones in the demonstration program be chosen based on speed data, crash history and the way the road is built. Any county, city, town or village would be authorized to establish its own demonstration program in cooperation with the New York State Police superintendent, state transportation commissioner, state Motor Vehicles commissioner and chairman of the state Thruway Authority. The speed cameras would have to pass a self-test of its functions on the day it is to be used, has undergone an annual calibration check and signs would have to be mounted notifying drivers that speed cameras are in use.

Technologies would not be allowed to produce images identifying the driver, passengers or contents of a vehicle, and any photographs, videos or other recorded imagery is only or the use of the State Police superintendent or the authorizing municipality, and once a ticket has been written the photos, videos or other recorded images are to be deleted within a year or whenever the case is resolved. The photos or video would not be open to the public, subject to civil or criminal discovery rules or used by any court or administrative body other than adjudication of traffic tickets originating from the work zone. The motor vehicle owner or operator can see the evidence as long as they records have been maintained.

Drivers would be notified by first class mail of a ticket.

Companion legislation, S.5223, has been introduced in the state Senate.

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