The process for getting a driver’s license takes time for a reason; driving is something people should take seriously, and an inexperienced or negligent driver can cause people to be hurt or even fatally injured. Driving exams exist to test our knowledge of operating a motor vehicle.
However, despite these measures, there are still people who obtain their licenses and then blatantly ignore the rules of the road. Officials continuously attempt to find and implement strategies that they hope will entice drivers to move with more caution on the roads and consider the safety of everyone around them before they get into a car.
The red light traffic program has a contentious history here in New York. Beginning in 2013 with a pilot program, automated ticketing began making its way across all five boroughs. Two major expansion programs, in 2019 and 2022, have contributed to a massive increase in fines for New Yorkers, with some sources claiming over $61 million in speed violation revenue in 2022 alone.
Red Light, Green Light, Go
Following the lead of other counties, Nassau County officials also proposed the installation of speed cameras for the Long Island Expressway as a way to prevent speeding and accidents. “Speed cameras should be explored for the Long Island Expressway,” said a Nassau County official in reaction to nine fatalities in road crashes in August 2016. Nassau Comptroller George Maragos tweeted, “Something has to be done to eliminate this weekly sorrow. Perhaps speed cameras on the LIE?”
If you are injured in a car crash on the LIE, speak with the skilled Nassau County car accident attorneys at Rosenberg & Gluck as soon as possible. Our lawyers can work with you to gather evidence of your damages and preserve evidence of the opposing driver’s fault. We will also coordinate medical care to ensure compliance with insurance companies, engage in pretrial negotiations with opposing counsel, and take the matter to court if an agreeable settlement cannot be reached.
Long Island Expressway Cameras
Currently, more than two dozen Long Island red light cameras are in operation on the LIE, with many more located throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Some of the most frequently trafficked stops include:
- I-495 at East Hampton Blvd Pedestrian Bridge
- SSP at Exit 38 (Belmont S.P.) to Exit 39 (Deer Park Ave)
- I-495 at South Oyster Bay Road
- I-495 at Washington Ave
- I-495 at Manetto Hill Rd (Exit 45)
- MSP between M5 and M4 (north of Charles Lindbergh Blvd)
- NSP at I.U. Willets Rd Exit 30
- SSP at Exit 37 (Belmont Ave)
- NY 25 at S. Oyster Bay Rd. and Jackson Ave.
Suffolk County’s Experiment in Red Light Cameras
Suffolk County has also extended its own traffic camera policies for the next five years. Like the LIE speed cameras, the program is not without controversy. According to some reports, accidents at intersections in which cameras are installed have risen by as much as 60%. The evidence seems to suggest that the influx of traffic cameras does not lower the rates of crashes and injuries, which can include lifelong consequences, such as loss of limb, disfigurement, paralysis, and permanent loss of mobility.
An Ongoing Discussion
There is no doubt about it; traffic cameras are a contentious issue. Some feel they are a money-making scheme rigged to trap drivers, while others say they are a safety device that changes behavior. A Facebook page, “New Yorkers Against Red Light Cameras,” will attest to the fervency of these viewpoints. Some claim the duration of yellow lights is shortened to trick cars into citations.
The bottom line is these programs need to be created for safety, not revenue. In fact, the issue of citations only being issued to generate revenue came up in arguments against the implementation of the Red Light Camera Program in Suffolk County. An investigation found that the program had cost taxpayers over 30,000,00 each year. Moreover, the authorities sent 30-40% of the profits to the Maryland-based camera manufacturer Xerox instead of the county of Suffolk.
The Programs Have Produced Unclear Results
In 2014, the Chicago Tribune recently commissioned a major study to investigate Chicago’s red light camera system. The study revealed that the system might be making Chicago intersections less safe. Rear-end collisions increased by 22 percent at intersections with red light cameras. Similarly, in Suffolk County’s situation, rear-end accidents had also increased by nearly 30% after the Red Light Camera Program began.
The National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, had statistics that differed from this Chicago study. It reports that total red-light running crash fatalities decreased by 22 percent from 2007 to 2011, as the number of communities with red-light safety cameras increased by 135 percent.
Considering the differences between crash statistics in areas with red-light cameras, it can be hard to say whether they are indeed helpful or if they hinder drivers on the road. However, it seems clear that traffic lights should not be tampered with to change the timing of yellow lights. Red-light camera programs should be geared towards promoting driver safety instead of simply increasing county revenue through traffic citations.
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In previous iterations of the red light camera program, the devices only recorded during weekdays. Later, expansion initiatives brought service to include limited hours on weekends. In 2022, Mayor Eric Adams voiced his support for 24/7 operation, stating: “New Yorkers deserve to be safe on our streets 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and keeping our cameras on is a critical step in that direction.” In August, round-the-clock traffic monitoring became the norm.
How are Tickets Issued?
New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1111(d) 1 states that “facing a steady red signal… (traffic) shall stop before entering intersection….and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown.” Red light cameras interpret the law so that if any part of the vehicle has not entered the intersection when the light turns red, a ticket will be issued.
Part of the problem here relates to a theory some people maintain that county officials have intentionally shortened the time of yellow lights to trap more drivers and therefore rake in more money via citations. Stephen Ruth, one of these believers who has since been dubbed the “Red Light Robin Hood,” has shared videos on his Facebook page comparing the yellow lights at intersections without cameras. He demonstrates that the latter last 5 seconds, while the yellow lights at intersections with cameras only allow 3 seconds.
So, in regard to how the red lights interpret the law, Ruth argues that the red-light camera system is flawed. He insists that in areas of 55 mph where drivers are expecting the usual amount of time to go through a yellow light, they are taken by surprise when it so quickly turns red. Therefore they must slam on their brakes. This behavior can cause a serious accident, generally in the form of a rear-end collision. The driver might be issued a citation if the nose of their vehicle sticks into the intersection because the light forced them to stop unexpectedly.
In Nassau County, drivers can receive a citation for making a left turn when the light is red; going straight through a red light; making a right on red but failing to make a complete stop; or blatantly disregarding a red light.
Call a Long Island Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have become a victim of an intersection accident involving red light cameras, consult with an attorney regarding your rights, as you may be entitled to compensation. At Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP, we have the knowledge and skills to defend you. We believe that people affected by red-light cameras should get the justice they deserve. With recent developments coming to the fore about the timing being decreased for yellow lights, we see that something must be done.
Contact our personal injury firm today to schedule your free initial consultation. We will use our expertise to guide you and help you decide what your next steps should be.