Drivers of the world, unite.
In the good ol’ USA, local governments have turned to traffic cameras to make the streets safer…it says here. In beautiful downtown Nassau County on New York’s Isle of Long we’ve recently had installed school zone, speed cameras. These traffic cameras take a photo of traffic law violations and send the ticket to the vehicle’s owner.
Some think this program is in place to make the government coffers safer from drowning in the red ink of mismanagement. People can be so cynical. Others, like me think our local Nassau County government only has the safety of our children at heart…and I’m here to help them.
The school districts of Nassau County can choose their own speed limits so some are as low as 15 mph others 25 mph. Tickets are produced for anyone clocked by camera at ten miles per hour above the posted limit.
When this idea percolated in our local government’s pot of finance, it was determined that only posted signs would be necessary to warn of the impending violation ahead. But as a result of public uproar yellow warning blinkers augmenting the signs are on the way now at a cost to the county of over six million bucks. But in the meantime, yup, I got a school zone ticket very early in the school season.
Now I had made a conscious effort when schools opened to be alert as I drove towards the local school zone about a half mile ahead. But I had my radio on and I was listening to something interesting on Public Radio. I spoke a few words to Cheryl, in the car with me, about it. Then suddenly I realized I had passed the warning sign and I was in the dreaded ZONE! I looked down and I was going an outrageous 32 mph in the 20 mph zone. I slowed immediately but got a ticket in the mail for doing 32 mph in a 20 mph school zone. $50 for the fine $30 for the administrative fee.
Now I’m not one to be in favor of distracted driving of any kind: texting, hand held phone calls, eating sandwiches, etc. but listening to and commenting on the radio piece doesn’t seem egregious. It’s apparent to me that a distraction of any kind might cause one to creep up minutely in speed without realizing it. One might be slightly distracted even by things on one’s own mind: Ebola, ISIS, family health issues, jobs or…one’s stomach growling…maybe for that sandwich. And of course 32 mph is not drag racing especially when the road in question is three lanes in each direction, like a freakin’ highway, so you don’t feel you’re doing something wrong at that 32 mph. I have NEVER observed a child on the road there, EVER.
But I figured I needed a better warning. It would help me and more importantly help our local governments in their relentless struggle to protect our children.
I looked online for electronic warning devices. There are many for GPS devices and iphone apps so I read the reviews. I got one from the App store for my iPhone called Phantom Alert. It warns for speed zone cameras, red light cameras and much more if you want it too. All I need is a timely reminder for school zones but the red light camera warning is good sometimes too. If you don’t come to a complete stop before making a right on red at a red light camera, you get a ticket. Never had the “pleasure” though. Here’s the Phantom Alert in action. It warns verbally, “Speed zone camera, reduce speed.” repeatedly:
This app costs me $30 per year, (the same cost of the admin fee for one ticket) and they do have a free trial period. You can get a better deal, a 3 year plan, but I thought I’d try this one year option first.
GPS devices have the feature as well and the volume is much louder than an iPhone. But if you opt for the GPS make sure it’s compatible with the speed zone and red-light warning apps.
Cheryl spoke with someone who lives near our local school zone and he got six tickets. He said the cameras catch so many people there the constant camera flash looks like strobe lights in disco. He said school kids never cross there either. If there were kids crossing there, I think they’d be dancing to the disco beat of “Staying Alive” under the flashing camera lights. Funny, they seemed to be “staying alive” just fine for years without the pole mounted cash registers.
I have no financial or other interest in Phantom Alert, nor Garmin. There are many other apps and devices to choose from so go to it in your search. As I say, I’m just here to help, (Can you imagine in these horrible take-home-pay-times some desperate mom heading for a sale for kid’s shoes or school books and getting whacked with an $80 kick in the butt). But as I say it’s more important to help our local governments in their safety efforts.
So I’m suggesting our Nassau County government (and maybe all local governments across America, and perhaps the globe) use their administrative fee on each ticket to provide each violator and eventually all drivers, a school zone-camera-alert device as described above. We’d all have an interior speed zone warning device. This would make the school zone program more effective and our kids even safer than the signs, blinking yellow lights AND THE TICKETS! Of course there’d be less money in fines coming in but it’s not about money, it’s all about safety, right? And of course we’re here to help.
Now, if we could use my soon-to-be-patented X-ray cameras that see into the halls and back rooms and three martini lunches of ALL government…sans warning lights:
Below is a section of a cartoon drawn fifty years ago by my recently deceased brother in law, and NYC cop, Bob Bender.
I’d say he was the most prescient in his Precinct. But coins to pay a fine? COINS? HA! HA! HA! HA! But fines were probably only a few bucks.
Rest in Peace, Bad Bob.
Be well, all,