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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Red Light Cameras

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me a story about a neighbor who was furious over getting a ticket for passing a red light based on a camera at the intersection. The ticketed person felt her privacy had been violated because of the camera. First of all, the cameras are not installed to raise money for local governments. And in my opinion, they do not invade anyone’s privacy.

Take a look at some of the facts. Each year around 800 people are killed in accidents where someone goes through a red light. In addition, over 137 thousand people are injured in crashes that are involved in a red light running.

Approximately, one half of those killed are pedestrians with the balance mostly in the cars hit by someone ignoring a red light.

What happens after red light cameras are installed? The facts speak for themselves. Intersections with red light cameras see crashes reduced by almost 30 percent. Results of red light cameras overseas are even more significant. The statistics show that red light violations are generally reduced by 45 percent.

While the column is really about the use of red light cameras on Long Island, it is interesting to note that cameras are used for law enforcement in at least 15 major cities and many smaller communities across the country.

Now, take a look at the “invasion of privacy.” One way to do this is to examine just where are surveillance cameras used now? Start with banks. Are cameras in banks to record any criminal activity an invasion of someone’s privacy? I do not think so.

How about the lobbies of apartment buildings or condominiums? I doubt that anyone living in such facilities would feel that their privacy is at risk.

While I could go on and on, surveillance cameras are in jewelry stores, schools, toll booths, hotel hallways, and even in private single family homes. Also, think about the police officers on highway patrols who use a form of cameras to track speeding automobiles without having to be in direct pursuit of a driver.

When you weigh safer driving conditions, violations of laws, and taking a picture of the license of an automobile passing a red light, it is clear to me that red light cameras serve a valid purpose.

Beyond red light cameras, I wish the cameras could be installed to catch other violators. Our home is close to a four stop sign intersection. Over 65 percent of the cars passing that intersection do not come to a full stop at the signs. In addition, many do not even slow down.

Keep up the good red light camera work. By the way, a recent poll shows that some 70 percent of Long Islanders approve of red light cameras with only 27 percent feeling the cameras invade personal privacy. At the same time, election propositions across the country voted down the cameras, because of arguments saying the cameras were only to be used for raising money.

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