AKRON -- Drivers are getting the message when it comes to local school zones: slow down.
The city's controversial speed cameras are making a difference, according to police.

"I've been to these school zones to retrieve some of these machines and the people are driving extremely slow which is what we want," said Lt. Tom Hanley.

More than 400 tickets were handed out during the first three days of school as drivers acclimated themselves to the cameras, which are set up in different school zones each morning and afternoon.

Last year, more than 3,000 tickets were handed out in the first month of the program. That sparked local debate over whether the cameras were being used properly and at the right times to protect school children.

Eventually city leaders approved an increased warning program to include signs, flashing lights, and devices called "smart machines" to further warn drivers who are driving too fast.

Akron Police cover 11 school zones per day via technology and traditional officer enforcement, Hanley said.