Red Light Cameras

4 Feb

Since local governments are strapped for cash nowadays, there’s a big push – in Buffalo, among other places – to amend state law to permit the installation of red light cameras.

Red light cameras take away police discretion and are susceptible to mischief, as this story out of Italy demonstrates.

But this is New York State, right? So, naturally the decision as to whether you have a red light camera law, and what it looks like (i.e., what the specifications are), comes down to whom you know.

For instance, the same lobbying firm that Collins retained to represent the County in Albany is pushing for red light cameras for the NYS cities that want them.

Last year, Assemblyman David Gantt, Democrat from Rochester, (and chair of the Transportation Committee) switched his longstanding opposition to a red light camera bill. Why? It was later revealed that a former aide of his was lobbying on behalf of a camera company that wanted the contracts. It wanted the contracts so badly that it wanted the bill to be drafted in such a way to guarantee that it would get them all.

So, aside from the possibility of malicious hacking and the allegations of favoritism and patronage, what could possibly be wrong with this?

13 Responses to “Red Light Cameras”

  1. Terry February 4, 2009 at 7:00 am #

    Unless the powers that be lower the status of these types of infractions to something tantamount to a penalty assessed to the vehicle as opposed to the driver, my concern is that while a camera may capture a vehicle’s plate number, it will not adequately identify the driver of same. Who then should receive the ticket ? The driver? The owner of the vehicle? If I wasn’t driving the car, why should I be penalized for running a red light? Should I be responsible for the traffic infraction of someone driving my car? If someone borrows my golf club and whacks in a windshield of a neighbor, should I be responsible? And, after the Mayor Brown Canisius College security camera fiasco, haven’t we had enough of this type of crap?

  2. Bill Altreuter February 4, 2009 at 8:48 am #

    I hope they get “Darth” Volker to write the statute. If it works like his death penalty law nobody will ever pay a ticket again.

  3. Derek J. Punaro February 4, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    There are so many problems with traffic light cameras, that the only reason that politicians consider them is that it’s yet another easy money grab. Numerous studies have shown red light cameras to increase accidents at intersections they’re installed at because they cause drivers to slam on the brakes when the light turns yellow. Further, many jurisdictions have been caught decreasing the yellow time below state minimums to catch more people.

    The National Motorists Association chronicles the many issues with traffic light cameras.

  4. STEEL February 4, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    The real question is why is it any business of the state if a municipality wants one?

  5. Mike February 4, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    Don’t run red lights and you don’t have to worry about it. For the people who think they are too important to obey the traffic laws let them get the ticket. If it’s stops people from running lights maybe it will save a life or two.
    But then it is Buffalo so we’ll probably get tickets even if we do stop.

  6. Ward February 4, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

    Derek — actually the standard contract between the city and the company that leases the camera generally forbids the city from increasing the yellow light duration to enhance safety, as this would reduce the number of tickets issued, and thus reduce the company’s cut. Think Tony Soprano leaning on his Capos to improve “production”.

    So much for enhanced safety as a motive.

    It appears that Arizona, who led the charge to speed cams, may abandon them–per a bill just voted out of committee.

  7. dave-in-rocha February 4, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    “Numerous studies have shown red light cameras to increase accidents at intersections they’re installed at because they cause drivers to slam on the brakes when the light turns yellow.”

    Well, then the drivers behind the lead car should learn to slow down at a yellow light too. Either that or they’re following too closely. Plus, most fender benders between two cars going in the same direction are better than having a car (or worse, a pedestrian) get t-boned as it goes through a green light.

  8. hank February 5, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    Buffalo South has had Red Light Cameras since 1998.
    They were installed in the 17 intersections where the most accidents occured.

    It’s been a long time since I had a NY license, but I can remember BPD officers chew me out about driving through on the yellow—(no ticket because I took their cards to my great uncle who ran the now closed Nye Park Hotel on Elmwood and they would get a free lunch for letting me go. That’s BPD integrity for ya).

    In NC the law says “proceed with caution” on a yellow light. The Buffalo cops told me “Yellow means step on the brake, not the gas”. So I’m not sure how the NY law reads.

    But I can tell you about how the cameras have worked in Charlotte.
    1. The ticket is written to the registered owner of the vehicle. The cameras take 2 pictures. One where you can see the driver of the vehicle, and one that shows the back of the vehicle going through the intersection with the light red—it will NOT take the picture until the light is red—and a close up of the license plate is also sent with the ticket. (no Front license plate in NC)

    There is also a date and time stamp—hour minute and second that the picture is taken. This is done because of company/fleet vehicles that are driven by more than one person over the course of a day.

    Accidents in these 17 intersections are down over 50% since the cameras were installed. Dave in Rocha has it down. As you drive around the city, you know where the cameras are… learn to react to the light changes earlier. There has been no lengthening of the yellow on the signal cycle–they’re not real short like in some cities.

    The downside of this is that now the cops have “MOBILE” speeding cameras that they set up under the guise of a city van that looks like they’re doing road repairs.
    These cameras get pictures of your license, the driver and the speed your car is traveling at, with a time stamp. Because radar is fallible, I think these are just a cash cow for the city.

    But at the end of the day, the Red Light cameras DO work. Even after pissed off rednecks have shot them with deer slugs and various calibers of handguns. At any given time you can find multiple bullet holes in the camera boxes. Guess they take the lickin’ and keep on snappin’.

  9. Army Vet, February 5, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    They tried that here in Minnesota and the majority (I don’t know the exact number) of people that received tickets in the mail fought them and one as there was no was to prove who was driving the car. The lights lasted about 6 months and were taken down. Forgive me if my numbers and timeframe are off but these lights did not last long.

  10. Jay February 7, 2009 at 8:28 pm #

    The mayor says that he will place these cameras in places that have high volume traffic and pedestrians. He has also said that their will not be that many but in the same interviews he estimates revenue at $8.5 million to $10 million a year. I would suggest that the mayor is being less than honest in how many cameras he is going to install. The type of revenue that he is hoping for indicates that he is planning to blanket the city with these cameras unless he is going to raise the traffic fine to $1000 per ticket. You fo the math. Finally I don’t think that there are that many places of high volume pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
    As a bike rider, I have a better suggestion, place the cameras surreptitiously, aimed at the drivers to catch those who are using cell phones.

  11. Derek J. Punaro February 11, 2009 at 1:23 pm #

    Don’t fall for the scam!

    “Every independent study of red light ticket cameras has found that they increase intersection accidents. Every study by an institution or government with a vested interest in promoting ticket cameras has been rife with inconsistencies, untenable assumptions, and/or outright manipulation to generate pre-ordained results. And, in the latter case they have almost always been caught in the act! Never-the-less the ruse continues.”

  12. Mike February 19, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    The red light cams are nothing short of a menace. The nanny state expands. I live in Chicago, where there are tons (not literally, of course) of these cameras. The ticket is $100. It’s a legalized shakedown, in my opinion.


  1. Red Light Cameras Coming to Buffalo? | New York Driving Law - March 24, 2009

    […] post by the Buffalo Pundit blog on the issue of installing Red Light cameras at key intersections in the Buffalo, NY area.  Researchers at the University of South Florida […]

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