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Summer vacation is an institution of life in New York, when school is out and parents must think of ways to look after their children during the day. But as some Long Island drivers have been discovering to their dismay, traffic cameras that have been placed in school zones to enforce the 25-miles-per-hour speed limit do not recognize this time-honored tradition.

In fact, thousands of drivers who thought that summer vacation meant that the school zone speed limit has taken a hiatus have received unpleasant surprises in the mail, in the form of camera-generated traffic tickets, and many of them are complaining about it.

Traffic fines for going too fast in a school zone -- more than 10 miles per hour over the school speed limit will activate a traffic camera -- can add up quickly for drivers who are unaware that they are being photographed. Some drivers have received multiple tickets, which can each cost about $80.

So far, the response by local governments to complaints about traffic cameras ignoring summer vacation has largely been variations of, “too bad.” They have pointed out that summer school, or community activities, can keep schools open even outside of the regular school year. Plans remain in place to significantly increase the number of traffic cameras in school zones in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Accordingly, it appears that the best way to avoid a nasty summer surprise in the mail -- or at any time during the year -- is for drivers to understand that traffic cameras in school zones continue to operate during school days, during school hours and for an hour before and after those hours, and during school activities, and to pay attention to their speed accordingly.

However, in this case, reports indicate that the cameras were issuing tickets even outside of school hours, which is further indication that the system is far from perfect. Drivers who wish to fight their traffic tickets in court may wish to consult with an attorney before paying the fine.

Source: CBS New York, “Nassau Residents Complain About School-Zone Speeding Tickets In Summer,” Aug. 19, 2014

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