More tickets being issued by school zone speed cameras; changes shrouded by City Hall
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Drivers know to slow down in a school zone and now tickets are going out for those going even slightly over the speed limit. This change comes after over two-thirds of the city’s traffic cameras were removed in January.
According to our partners at NOLA.com, drivers have been getting ticketed more frequently in school zones for driving as little as four miles per hour over the 20 mile per hour speed limit during school hours.
Resident Christopher Moore said he does not typically get surprised when he gets a ticket.
“I get these often. That’s the unfortunate part of driving in this city,” Moore said. “There used to be a 26 miles per hour threshold and they’ve move it unannounced to everyone in the city.”
Mayor Latoya Cantrell ran her campaign partly on the promise to get rid of traffic cameras that were ineffective and more of a burden on residents.
Recently, Cantrell kept part of that promise by deactivating over 20 cameras across the city and the ones located in school zones will now only operate during the hours between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
New Orleans City Councilman Jay banks said he was told the mayor’s office lowered the threshold in February for safety concerns. Cantrell’s communication director Beau Tidwell also said the decision was made in the interest of safety.
“The administration is working to tighten enforcement around school zones during school hours. The speed limit has not been changed, but the threshold for triggering an automatic ticket has been lowered. We believe encouraging drivers to strictly observe the posted 20 mph limit helps protect children and their families," Tidwell said.
NOLA.com was able to get a draft of a press release referring to the removal of some of the traffic cameras. A paragraph was taken out before it was distributed, according to their report.
“Starting Feb. 4, 2019, the enforcement limits used by these cameras will be adjusted by two miles per hour,” the omitted paragraph read. It also said other speed cameras would be adjusted from 10 miles per hour to eight miles per hour above the speed limit.
The mayor’s office did not respond to a question from NOLA.com about why the administration kept the change shrouded from the public.
City leaders said the loss in revenue from the cameras will be hard to make up and some residents say they’re fine with making up the difference if they can see where the money is going.
“What are all the places that we have in place the revenue side of the bucket? Twenty-one. If we can’t do much on the revenue side, then what do we need to do on the expense side to make this happen?” City Council member Joe Giarrusso said,
“It’s going somewhere. You can see the changes being made. I think it makes a lot of sense. But if it’s just going to some general fund where we’re not seeing any concrete changes, I don’t really see how it’s helping anybody,” resident Mariah Branyan said.
Drivers like Evlin Lake said she got her first speeding ticket on Magazine Street for going six miles over the speed limit.
“Whatever is happening right now, where they’re trying to catch people at 22 to 26 miles per hour is in the ballpark of scandalous,” she said.
According to the City’s website, there are still 11 cameras operating in New Orleans that are not in school zones and only 16 percent of schools in the city are covered by traffic cameras.
For a map of where all of the school zone cameras are located, click here.
Note: This story was updated to include a comment from Beau Tidwell.
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