Speed-Tracking Cameras Can Make the City Money While Making It Safer

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Photo: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement yesterday that speed cameras around the city would start issuing tickets today could help make the streets safer. The change may also be very healthy for the city’s budget.

Mike Bloomberg battled for a decade to win the ability to install the cameras, and late last year the state legislature finally allowed a handful to be used; rule-making by the city’s Department of Finance then took longer than expected, limiting the program to issuing warnings for three months. The first twenty cameras — tracking a tiny fraction of city pavement — went live in early September and generated 12,000 violations by the end of December.

That’s a scary indication of the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit by at least ten miles per hour, but it’s also a possible cash cow: The new tickets are $50 each. Perhaps De Blasio can use the money to fulfill a campaign promise to trim fines on small businesses. But even if the revenue turns out to be underwhelming, that’s good news: It would mean more drivers are minding the speed limits. Now if De Blasio can just do something about car alarms.