Senator Gounardes: "Red light cameras save lives—especially those in cars"

Andrew Gounardes

Originally published in AM New York on .
Image of a stoplight with a red light camera attached.

Some skeptics complain that New York City’s speed and red light camera programs are part of a sinister plot to milk motorists for all they’re worth. But what critics misunderstand is that these life-saving programs offer the greatest safety benefit to drivers themselves.

The logic behind the cameras is simple: most drivers don’t run red lights. And those drivers, along with everyone else, are safer when the ones who do get caught. 

In 2021, 45% of all traffic fatalities in the city happened at intersections. And the problem is getting worse: in the first nine months of 2023, red-light tickets increased 35% from the same period in 2019.


Naysayers argue the cameras “target drivers.” But it’s people in cars who benefit the most from the program. Consider this: pedestrian injury crashes at intersections with red light cameras fell to 130 in 2020, compared to an average of 208 in the three years before cameras were installed, a 37.5% drop. But crashes that injured motorists at those same intersections dropped to 799 from an astoundingly high average of 1,481, a drop of 46%.

In other words, motorists saw the greatest safety benefit of anyone on the road.