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Seen At 11: Drivers Question Motive Of Speed Camera Program

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City is using cameras to catch speeding drivers now more than ever. They're supposed to help keep pedestrians safe, but some drivers say the city is motivated by something entirely different.

As part of a city program, the speed cameras must be within a quarter-mile of a school to help slow down traffic and keep students safe. But now, some angry drivers are raising questions about what the city's real motivation may be.

"It's another opportunity for the city to stick it to the middle class," driver Jerry Iannece told CBS 2's Tracee Carrasco.

Iannece is mad after a speed camera caught him in Queens on the Francis Lewis Boulevard exit ramp of the Long Island Expressway. He claims there is just not enough time to slow down to 30 miles an hour once you see the speed limit sign.

"It's too short of a run to slow down quick enough to not get a ticket," he said.

And he's not alone.

"Anyone who knows anything about the LIE, you're going pretty fast to get off that exit," said motorist Achilles Katsanakis.

Drivers also complain about a similar situation in Brooklyn where a camera tracks drivers on an exit ramp of the fast-moving Belt Parkway in Gravesend. In just one day, the camera raised nearly $80,000 in fines, CBS 2's Carrasco reported.

"That to me is a gotcha location," said City Councilman Mark Treyger (D-47th.)

Treyger said he doesn't believe the cameras are there to protect students, since they don't even cross the highway.

"The purpose of the program is to protect life, so if they want to protect life, let's move it to where people are actually crossing," he said.

The head of the Department of Transportation, Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, insists safety -- not revenue -- is the priority.

"We think it's very important that, particularly there, motorists obey the speed limit. It's our children's lives at stake," she said.

Trottenberg says there is time for cars to slow and that while students don't cross the highway, the school is right next to it. She also says that as drivers get used to the cameras, the number of tickets will decline, along with fatalities.

"Speeding is the No. 1 cause of pedestrian fatalities on the streets of New York," she said. "So for us, these are really life-saving tools."

So far, the city has installed 25 speed cameras.

By the time the program is fully up and running, there will be 140 operating cameras.

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