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What Can New Rochelle Expect from Red Light Cameras at Intersections?

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What Can New Rochelle Expect from Red Light Cameras at Intersections?

January 22, 2015 - 22:41
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Red Light Camera (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- New Rochelle can expect an increase in traffic collisions, a failure to provide accurate data to New York State and resistance to provide records under Freedom of Information requests. And more revenue. This according to recent reports by the Automobile Association of America which opposes Red Light Cameras.

New Rochelle, along with Mount Vernon, submitted a request to be approved for a New York State program to install Red Light Cameras over the summer. The New York State Legislature approved New Rochelle for the cameras and the City Council voted to give the go ahead. New Rochelle can now install up to 12 cameras on local intersections.

New Rochelle Police Commissioner told City Council that the installation of Red Light Cameras would take time.

The City has since put out an RFP and received responses which are currently being reviewed, according to City Manager Charles B. Strome.

The city conducted a pilot program last year at several intersections and found many vehicles ran the red lights at those intersections.

Police Commissioner Carroll said that initially, the cameras may go in about six or seven intersections. "We can always move them around if there’s good compliance at one intersection after a while," said Carroll.

The City budget does not include any revenue from Red Light Cameras.

The idea for installing Red Light Cameras came from the New Rochelle Citizens Budget Committee, that is to say from New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, who many believe drafted the Committee's proposals behind the scenes.

City Manage Charles Strome said Red Light Cameras were not about making money but public welfare.

“This is not about being a revenue generator. It’s really for public safety,” said Strome.

The folks at AAA beg to differ.

In a press release issued last May, AAA cast doubts on the program.

An analysis of the five red light camera programs in New York State (Yonkers, New York City, Rochester, Suffolk County and Nassau County) has found that municipalities operating them have failed, to varying degrees, to comply with state law that requires reports that measure program effectiveness. With the pilot programs in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Yonkers and Rochester set to expire December 1, AAA New York State strongly opposes any legislation that would remove state oversight and encourages the continuation of the pilot programs with strict enforcement of state requirements.

In a recent article in Car & Travel magazine, AAA raised further doubts about the program after spending months seeking data from the five active Red Light Camera programs.

“A lack of transparency in red light camera programs undermines the public’s trust in government and squanders an opportunity to promote safety whenever the programs are mentioned,” said Sinclair. When seeking data, AAA New York State was stymied by some of the municipalities and was forced to file FOIL requests for New York City and Suffolk County and endure delays from Yonkers.

AAA cited nearby Yonkers as the worst offender.

Refusal to acknowledge unflattering results is no more apparent than in Yonkers. Local officials defended the cameras with blatantly cherry-picked data. They proclaimed how red light violations decreased substantially at the first three intersections with cameras. While this may sound like good news, our initial review found that both crashes and injuries had increased at those intersections. Newly released data is even more outrageous. Across all camera locations, injury crashes have risen 29 percent and rear-end crashes have nearly doubled. Yet Yonkers officials continue to assert that the cameras are "preventing accidents."

What do you think?

Are Red Light Cameras a way to slow down traffic and improve safety? Will they cause more collisions as cars suddenly halt to avoid being caught on camera? Or is this just one big revenue boondoggle for a cash--strapped city looking to make a quick buck?