The New York State Senate passed a bill that will allow for 50 red light cameras to be installed in Nassau County to catch motorists who run red lights. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Craig Johnson, will enable Nassau officials to install red light cameras at up to 50 intersections throughout the county under a five-year pilot program. These devices turn on only when a vehicle runs a red light.
"These red light cameras will help improve the safety of our roadways and protect every Nassau resident," Senator Johnson said. "I thank Assemblyman Charles Lavine and Senator Charles Fuschillo for joining me in sponsoring this vitally important legislation."
Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi had been lobbying for the state legislature to approve the installation of cameras since 2007. "I urge Albany approve the installation of these life-saving cameras at our highest-risk intersections," Suozzi said two years ago. "They are powerful tools that will help us reduce the number of car accidents and car-accident deaths, while giving us the ammunition we need to go after dangerous scofflaws."
While the red light cameras are seen as a safety measure, they are also being counted on to help the county close its projected budget deficit. The legislation authorizes the imposition of a maximum $50 civil penalty and no more than $25 for failure to respond. It also directs the commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to deny an application for an original or renewal registration if the applicant has failed to appear or comply with the traffic signals.
The legislation includes protections for vehicle owners from being convicted of a red light violation if the vehicle has been reported stolen, or the traffic signal was malfunctioning.
According to the Nassau County Traffic and Safety Board, three of New York's deadliest roads are Hempstead Turnpike, Old Country Road and Sunrise Highway. These roads figure to get red light cameras as well as other dangerous intersections in the county. Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, Franklin Square and West Hempstead has long been a road where multiple traffic accidents occur. According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, between 2005 and 2007, 15 pedestrians were killed along a 15-mile stretch of roadway on Hempstead Turnpike, with most of those fatalities occurring as the road passes through Elmont, Franklin Square and Hempstead.
Assemblyman Tom Alfano, who represents Elmont, Franklin Square and West Hemptead, voted in favor of the legislation that authorizes the installation of up to 50 red light cameras in Nassau County. "I strongly believe the red light cameras are a big step forward in having accountability for drivers. It's another tool to make sure that they adhere to the rules of the road," he said. "There have been too many tragedies on Hempstead Turnpike because of excessive speed, drivers ignoring red lights and sheer carelessness. Now the state legislature has passed this bill that will help protect local residents."
The cameras were part of the state's 2009-2010 budget.