New York nears five-year extension of ticket camera programs

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/18/2014

New York state lawmakers acted recently to authorize and extend red-light camera programs in certain areas.

In 2009, then-Gov. David Paterson signed bills into law authorizing various cities and counties around the state to post cameras to snap photos of the license plates of vehicles running red lights. A $50 ticket is mailed to vehicle owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

The five-year pilot program is set to expire this December. In an effort to continue the use of ticket cameras, multiple pieces of legislation were introduced at the statehouse this year to extend programs for another five years.

State lawmakers approved bills permitting the cities of Yonkers and Rochester, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island to continue their programs. The cities of Mount Vernon and New Rochelle were also given the green light to add programs.

New York City’s program, which includes 150 ticket cameras, was also extended for five more years.

The city of Yonkers has cameras posted at 25 intersections. The city of Rochester was authorized to post cameras at 50 intersections. However, cameras have been installed at about 30 locations.

Nassau and Suffolk counties have posted cameras at 76 and 50 intersections, respectively.

Mount Vernon and New Rochelle would be permitted to add cameras at as many as 20 intersections.

New York City has relied on Big Brother to help with ticketing for 20 years. Since then, state figures show more than eight million vehicles have been cited through the program.

In 2013 alone, 577,804 violations were issued to drivers running red lights at intersections posted with ticket cameras.

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, question the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe. They have cited statements made by county officials in Nassau and Suffolk counties that referred to the boost in revenue the red light cameras provide.

“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,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

The bills now move to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for his signature.

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