New York expands use of red light cameras
05/05/2009 - 1:22:01 pm
New laws allow Buffalo and Rochester, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, to install the cameras at 50 intersections to catch motorists who don’t stop in time. A new law allowing red light cameras in Yonkers permits use of the devices at 25 intersections.
As part of a five-year pilot program in the cities and counties across the state, cameras will snap photos of the license plates of vehicles running red lights. A $50 ticket will be mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time. Motorists with three or more outstanding violations would be prohibited from renewing their vehicle’s registration.
The governor also signed into law a bill allowing New York City to add 50 intersections to the 100 already under the watchful eye of camera surveillance. The enforcement tool has been in use in New York City since 1994.
Paterson advocated expanding the use of the cameras in his budget proposals for 2009-10. He estimated the devices would generate nearly $50 million annually for local governments that authorize their use, Newsday reported.
Supporters say the cameras are about safety and using technology in a helpful way. Others say the devices free up police to address bigger issues.
Opponents, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, have questioned the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe. They cite statements made by county officials in Nassau and Suffolk counties that refer to the boost in revenue the red light cameras will provide.
Others question the effectiveness of such intersection cameras, arguing they have the potential to distract drivers and cause more fender-bender accidents. In fact, multiple studies have found that crashes actually increased in cities with red-light cameras.
Critics also dispute claims that the cameras keep people safe because the tickets don’t end up on drivers’ records.
“The motivation of every player in this deal is economics. Whether it’s the local jurisdiction or the manufacturer, that’s not reasonable justification for doing that,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line.
By Keith Goble, state legislative editor Land Line Magazine