Senate Approves Fuschillo Bill For Installation Of Cameras At 50 Nassau County Intersections To Help Improve Traffic Safety

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

October 22, 2007

State Senate Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) today announced that the Senate has approved legislation that he sponsors that would permit the installation of 50 "red-light" cameras at high-risk intersections throughout Nassau County in an effort to improve traffic safety. The cameras would take digital images of the license plates of vehicles running red lights. The County would then mail a summons of up to $50 to the cars’ registered owners whenever a camera captures a violation.

Red light running accidents are often the worst type of accident, involving speed and right-angle impacts which can result in severe injuries. The presence of "red-light" cameras has significantly reduced the number of accidents at other locations throughout the United States, including in New York City.

"Drivers who run red lights cause higher speed, higher impact accidents, which put innocent lives at risk," said Senator Fuschillo. "These cameras have already been proven to dramatically reduce traffic accidents and if installed at Nassau County’s highest-risk intersections, will help deter drivers from recklessly speeding through red lights, which will save lives and reduce injuries."

Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi said, "I am pleased that the State Senate has approved the installation of these life-saving cameras at our highest-risk intersections. 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."

According to the Nassau County Traffic Safety Board, there were 46,332 crashes at the intersections where the county would install red light cameras from 2000 to 2006. These crashes resulted in 26,470 injuries and 124 fatalities. It is estimated that red light cameras would reduce fatalities by 25%.

New York City is the only municipality in the State that currently is allowed under State law to install "red-light" cameras. The program in the City has contributed to increased traffic safety at intersections. The City reported a 73% drop in violations between 1994, when the cameras first were first installed, and 2005. Additionally, the City reported a 41% reduction in collisions and 35% drop in vehicular fatalities. The state Legislature judged New York City’s program to be a traffic safety success and recently doubled the number of intersection with cameras there from 50 to 100.

Other cities in the United States that already have red light cameras include Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego, Baltimore and Washington, DC.

Senator Fuschillo announced the red-light initiative with County Executive Suozzi during a press conference last April held at the intersection of Carmans Road and Louden Street. This intersection, at the entrance of the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa, has been the site of 70 accidents between 2000 and 2005, 41 of which could have been prevented if motorists had not ignored the traffic signal. Some 53 injuries resulted from those 70 crashes.

The legislation (S. 4296) now goes to the State Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Lavine. If approved by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor, the measure would then need the Nassau County Legislature’s approval.