Flashing lights to be installed near Buffalo school zone speed cameras; then, speeders will be fined

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The warning period for Buffalo school zone speed camera program ends on Thursday. But that doesn’t mean the city is ready to start issuing fines to drivers.

Mayor Byron Brown says he’s heard from drivers who have asked for more notice that they’re in school zones. And he’s listening. Brown says the city won’t start sending out fines until flashing beacon lights are installed near the city’s 14 speed cameras.

“We will not issue violations until beacons are installed,” Brown said at a Wednesday press conference.

Brown says the city obtained a $700,000 state grant to purchase and install the flashing beacons. The city’s public works department will begin doing that “immediately” and “incrementally” near the 14 cameras. It’s unclear how long it will be until they are all turned on.

“We’re going to prioritize (installment) based off of the same data that prioritized the (placement of the) cameras,” said public works commissioner Michael Finn. “That’s the risk data. Amount of crashes and amount of traffic volume at each school.”

Once the lights are installed, if you drive more than 26 mph through a 15 mph school zone, and your picture gets taken, you’ll be mailed a $50 fine.

City officials say on any given day over the course of the warning period, the cameras captured more than 10,000 images of drivers speeding. There were 22 school days during the warning period, which began on January 6th. The city keeps about $36 of the fine money after paying its vendor.

So, had the city been issuing fines over the course of the warning period, it would have generated about $8 million in revenue.

“Right now, the data is showing that the schools we have selected based on accident data and traffic volume are still the areas in which we need to have the cameras and beacons installed,” said the mayor.

On Tuesday, the Buffalo Common Council asked Brown to extend the warning period through the end of February. But Brown indicated that wouldn’t be appropriate.

“We think because of what we’re seeing, because of the number of people who are speeding past schools in the City of Buffalo, that it would not be responsible to extend the warning period beyond February 6th,” Brown said. “I cannot in good conscience do that.”

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