New York governor extends ticket camera programs

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/12/2014

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently put his signature on multiple bills to extend and authorize red-light camera programs in certain areas of the state.

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 was 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. Other bills called for new programs to be set up.

The governor signed 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 Albany, 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 57 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.

The cities of Albany and Mount Vernon now have permission to add cameras to as many as 20 intersections. New Rochelle can add the ticketing system at up to 12 intersections.

New York City has relied on Big Brother to help with ticketing for 20 years. Since then, state figures show more than 8 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 said the cameras are about safety and using technology in a helpful way. Others said the devices free up police to address bigger issues.

Opponents, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, question the claim that cameras are intended solely 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.

In 2011 alone, the ticketing machines allowed Nassau County and Suffolk County to generate $26 million and $13 million in revenue, respectively.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer has said, “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.”

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