From the Desk of Legislator Bosworth: Red Light Cameras
In response to constituent questions and concerns about the County’s relatively new “Red Light Camera Program,” I am reprinting from the Nassau County website some frequently asked questions and answers about the program. In particular, I have been asked about the law concerning right turns at a red light. Please note that the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law states that at many intersections in New York State, governed by traffic lights, you may make a right turn when the light is red. However, you must come to a complete stop (not a rolling stop), check the intersection for vehicles and pedestrians, and proceed to make a right turn when it is safe to do so. It also goes without saying that turning right on red is prohibited if a sign at the intersection prohibits it. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or at 516-571-6210 if you have further questions or concerns about this or any other issue.
Why does Nassau County need red-light cameras?
Traffic studies show that red-light running is a problem at intersections in Nassau County. The goal of the red-light camera program is to change driver behavior. Studies across the country prove that red-light camera programs are successful at reducing the number of red-light runners and increasing compliance with traffic laws, thus making roadways safer for all drivers and pedestrians.
What is considered running the red light?
Photographic evidence must show the car entering the intersection AFTER the light is already red. No tickets will be issued for vehicles entering the intersection on a green or yellow light, even if the vehicle is waiting for oncoming traffic to stop before completing a left-hand turn.
The VTL 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'.
If you are passing through the intersection after the traffic signal turns red you are in violation.
If you have stopped and enter against the red light anticipating a green light you are in violation.
Anticipating a green light can lead to accidents just like going through a red light can (Driver unaware of green turning arrow).
Various ways to receive a Notice of Liability due to a Red Light Camera Violation:
• Left Turn while Traffic Signal is Red
• Going Straight through on a Red Light Signal
• Making a right on Red but failing to make a complete stop
• Blatant disregard for a red light
Isn’t this program about the County generating revenue?
No, this is a public safety program. Our goal is to reduce the number of red-light runners, thus decreasing the number of violations and their potential for crashes and injuries on our roadways.
It is true that violators will fund this red-light camera program in full and no tax dollars will be used. The program may generate revenue for the County in its early stages, but the County expects revenue to decrease as drivers improve their driving habits and begin following the law.
Aren’t cameras an invasion of privacy, Big Brother watching citizens of Nassau County?
Actually, no. Photos are taken only of vehicles breaking the law on public roads (not drivers). Motorists can avoid photo enforcement by not breaking the law. There already are cameras in nearly every retail store and bank and already in use on roadways for ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) traffic management.
Has the County lengthened or shortened the timing of yellow lights?
The goal is public safety. A yellow light that is too short OR one that is too long can increase the risk of crashes. Before any camera is operational, the County verifies the signal timing is compliant with federal guidelines.
What is the review process?
Nassau County’s Traffic and Parking Violations Agency reviews all possible violations. Certifying agents watch the video of a vehicle running the red light and view the photos showing the light illuminated red both before and after the vehicle enters the intersection. If an agency employee determines the vehicle ran the red light, the employee verifies that the license plate matches the vehicle and all information is correct before issuing the notice of liability.
Don’t red-light cameras increase rear-end crashes?
Studies and community testimonials show that most communities see no change in the number of rear-end collisions, while many communities have even witnessed a decrease. Across the U.S., some communities have seen an increase in rear-end collisions; however, many of these same communities report a decrease in this type of crash about six months later, when driver behavior changes and motorists no longer expect the car in front of them to run the red light.
It’s also important to note that even in those rare cases when rear-end crashes increase, the number of T-bone crashes significantly decrease. Injuries decrease and lives are saved because T-bone crashes cause significant injuries compared to rear-end fender-benders.
• A Red Light Camera Violation does not carry points and does not go on your motorist record.
• A Red Light Camera Violation CANNOT be pled to a lesser offense.
• A Red Light Camera Violation fine CANNOT be reduced.