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Lawsuits & Litigation

City of Buffalo Hit with Lawsuit Over 15 MPH Speed Limit in School Zones

— March 22, 2021

Attorney Kevin Stocker is suing the city of Buffalo over a program that will lower the speed limit for school zones to 15 mph.

Attorney Kevin Stocker recently filed a lawsuit over complaints about the speed limit in Buffalo’s school zones. According to his suit, which was filed on behalf of himself and 53 other drivers who have received speeding tickets while driving through the school zone, the 15 mph being proposed by the city will make the school zones more dangerous. 

Children Crossing traffic sign
Children Crossing traffic sign; image courtesy of Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay,

The city’s program is known as the School Zone Safety Program and it would set a 15 mph speed limit “around 20 public, private and charter schools… Flashing beacons would warn drivers about the lower speed limit, and drivers captured on camera traveling at least 26 mph would receive a $50 citation mailed to the car’s registered owner.” Of that $50 citation, $36 would go to the city and $14 would go to the camera company issuing the citations.

When commenting on the lawsuit, Stocker said, “They’re saying this is necessary to protect children, when it does the opposite and makes the roads more dangerous.” His suit, which was filed in the State Supreme Court, “calls the drop to 15 mph in the school zone from 30 mph outside the zone a drastic sudden change that creates a dangerous condition, based on traffic engineering safety studies.” It adds, “The 15-mph speed zone is ridiculously slow to the point that one cannot press the gas pedal, and other pedestrians can run faster.” Stocker said, “We have crossing guards there to protect the kids. It’s just a cash grab…It’s wrong.”

As part of his suit, Stocker filed a petition that seeks the following:

  • An injunction against the city’s speed camera program;
  • The dismissal of all current outstanding tickets issued as part of the program;
  • And refunds for those tickets that have already been paid.

City officials view the situation differently, though. The program itself is part of Mayor Byron W. Brown’s strategy to improve pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist safety, and officials said they have “seen a drop in speeding near schools with the cameras.” The program and use of the cameras are designed to “catch motorists who endanger students and others by speeding on streets around schools.” 

However, Stocker’s suit notes that according to the state’s own manual on traffic control devices for streets around schools states that “school speed limit should be approximately 10 mph below the normally prevailing speed on the road.” Additionally, the lawsuit states the state safety regulations “on school speed limits are also in line with a federal Department of Transportation study, among other studies, which found that a speed change of more than 10 mph, without sufficient notice, increases the likelihood of accidents.”

Stocker is also concerned about privacy concerns because the cameras that “document speed violations produce digital photographs that will include children present on the sidewalks within the school zone.” According to the lawsuit, the cameras “rely on the same identifying technology that has been prohibited by state education law.” Because of that, Stocker believes the use of the cameras would “raise student privacy and possible civil rights and civil liberties issues.”


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