April 6, 2009

Assembly Authorizes Red Light Cameras In
Nassau And Suffolk Counties,
Buffalo, Rochester And Yonkers
Measure Builds On New York City's Use Of Cameras At Intersections

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced the passage of a legislative package that would allow designated localities to install red light cameras at selected intersections. The cameras would allow municipalities to establish demonstration programs to identify vehicles which violate state law by running through red lights.

The legislative package would expand the current program in New York City (A.7328/Silver) and authorize local laws for the installation of cameras in Rochester (A.7332/Gantt), Buffalo (A.7331/Hoyt), Yonkers (A.7330/Spano), Nassau County (A.7329/Lavine) and Suffolk County (A.7333/Eddington).

Under the Assembly package, municipalities would be authorized to institute a five-year trial program to enforce the red light law with cameras. Additionally, each bill requires participating municipalities to issue an annual report to the governor and legislative leaders detailing the effectiveness of this technology.

When a car drives through a red light, the cameras photograph the rear of the vehicle, including its license plate as a means of showing the violation and identifying the owner. The owner of the car is then sent a notice of liability and can be fined up to $50 for each violation.

Currently, New York City is the only municipality in the state that is permitted to use red light cameras. Statistics provided by the city's Department of Transportation indicate that the devices have helped reduce red light violations by 40 to 60 percent.

"Red light cameras will make roadways in these five municipalities safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians as they have in New York City," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "With this technology we send the clear message that running red lights, whether purposefully or not, is unacceptable. The legislation passed today will aid law enforcement in these communities and provide municipalities additional tools to protect public safety."

The red light camera legislation includes provisions protecting car owners from penalties if the operator is convicted of a red light violation, if their vehicle was reported stolen and not recovered before the violation or if the traffic signal was malfunctioning. To safeguard privacy, the legislation exempts recorded images from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and requires municipalities to exclude images of drivers, passengers or the content inside vehicles from photographs.

"For nine years I have fought for the approval of red light cameras at intersections throughout Buffalo," said Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo) "These technologies have a proven track record of creating safer streets and are an important tool for law enforcement. With this bill, Buffalo will finally have an important mechanism to ensure traffic safety and reduce fatalities on its roads."

"Local roads in Nassau County are among the most traveled in the state," said Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine (D-Glen Cove) "The implementation of red light cameras will assist in protecting drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians at busy intersections and make it clear that running red lights will not be tolerated. We must use the efficient technologies at our disposal to improve traffic safety. Red light cameras benefit our communities and law enforcement agencies."

"Drivers that run red lights put themselves, as well as innocent passengers, drivers and pedestrians at risk," said Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington (D/I/WF-Medford). "This legislation will finally allow Suffolk County to implement a program that will make the roads safer by ticketing violators and/or deterring would-be offenders simply by having the cameras at our intersections."