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Buffalo to install 'beacons' to warn drivers about school speed zones

Drivers beware: When flashing yellow lights are put up in coming days in Buffalo's school speed zones, the city will begin mailing speeding tickets to violators caught on camera.

Mayor Byron W. Brown said Wednesday that his administration will not extend the monthlong grace period in the camera zones, as requested by city lawmakers.

But the city will install flashing lights — which city officials described as "beacons" — to provide an additional warning to drivers approaching a 15 mph school zone.

Once the beacons are installed, drivers who speed through the school zones will be sent violations without a police officer pulling them over.

Cameras will not be used to enforce the speed limits until the beacons are functioning, Brown said.

City lawmakers asked the Brown administration to extend a grace period on camera enforcement through the end of the month. Some have raised concerns about the visibility of signs alerting motorists about the camera-enforced speed zones.

The city has already been collecting data through the cameras and found an average of about 10,000 drivers sped through the school zones each morning, the mayor said.

"Delaying implementation will only increase the chances of a child being injured — or worse — by a motorist speeding around their school," Brown said.

Fourteen cameras have been active since Jan. 6 near 10 schools.

The 15 mph speed zones near schools are in effect, but until now those caught on camera were only sent warnings. Drivers caught speeding by cameras will be cited if they are caught traveling 26 mph or faster.

Police officers who catch someone driving faster than 15 mph can issue tickets on the spot.

The city will pay for the beacons with $700,000 in state funding.

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