Many of you may have noticed that red light cameras have popped up all over Commack and the rest of Long Island. Several of you may have even received your very own complimentary photograph in the mail of you driving through said red light… accompanied by a not-so-welcome ticket for $50.
Both Nassau and Suffolk counties got the approval from the state in 2009 to install red light cameras at their 50 most dangerous intersections after a real battle over the bills in the NYS Legislature. But the placement of some of these cameras, and their knack for catching drivers who do not come to a full-and-complete stop before making a legal right on red make me wonder: are these red light cameras really about saving innocent lives or increasing revenue at the cost of taxpayers?
According to a national study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, the installation of red light cameras has been shown to decrease broadside crashes (at those intersections in which the cameras are installed) by approximately 25%. It also found that at intersections with red light cameras the number of rear-end crashes have increased by 15%.
So what does this all mean?
Broadside crashes, otherwise known as t-bone crashes, are considered the most dangerous since the doors are the weakest part of the car and thus tend to cause the most injuries to passengers. Rear-end crashes are not as bad and thus are apparently considered a “necessary evil” in the implementation of these red light cameras.
Okay, so it seems like red light cameras, at least statistically as provided by the federal government, appear to decrease the number of fatal accidents at any given intersection.
But aren’t there other ways to do the same thing without charging (relatively) law-abiding citizens?
Studies have shown that simply increasing the yellow light time does virtually the same thing as a red light camera; it decreases the number of broadside crashes and fatal accidents at an intersection. And because less people will be slamming on their brakes for fear of getting a $50 ticket, less vehicles will also be involved in rear-end collisions.
And the best part of increasing the yellow light time? No more of your hard earned money comes out of your pocket to sustain a failing state budget. (Well, I guess that’s only good for us average citizens…)
Now, about those intersections where it is legal to make a right on red and you still get a pretty little ticket in the mail. You clearly did not come to a complete stop before making said turn. Generally, these violations actually come with a video where you can watch yourself online in full glory, making the right on red without stopping.
But this still begs the question; how many fatal car crashes are actually caused by motorists making a legal right on red without coming to a complete stop? To me, this is like asking: How many accidents are caused by people trying to merge either onto or off of the Northern State at a glacial pace? Except in this case, the latter is legal, and no complete stop is necessary.
So with all due respect, I ask the great state of New York—what gives?
If installing red light cameras are really just about gaining revenue then why not increase the price of motor vehicle registration? Or attempt to make every person in the state pay an exorbitant fee to get a new license plate that they may or may not want? Oh wait…you already did that.
Attached is a list of red light cameras in Suffolk County. If you know of more please share below in the comments. Your fellow motorists will thank you.