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Red Light Cameras: Is it Really For the Driver’s Safety?

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Contact your Suffolk County Legislature if you oppose the Suffolk Red Light Camera Program.

Before you think about running that red light, remember that you may just get caught on camera. Red light cameras have become an inevitable accessory to many intersection lights and the truth is that many people are getting caught making mistakes. With these mistakes also come hefty fines and the aggravation of dealing with traffic court.

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Red light cameras were initially installed to help reduce the number of intersection related accidents and enforce traffic laws. Although the idea in theory seems fool proof, studies have shown that there has been quite a backlash of issues that have arisen making this actually quite controversial. For starters, the cameras only photograph the car and the license plate of the vehicle running the red light. It does not necessarily identify the owner of the vehicle that committed the violation. With that being said, it makes it quite complicated if another individual other than the one registered to the vehicle were driving at the time of the violation. The owner of the car may receive a ticket in the mail for a violation he or she did not commit.

It has also been noted that red light cameras create distractions that could indeed lead to other accidents. Although there has been a reduction in the number or side impact or “T-bone” collisions, red light cameras have caused an increase in the number of rear end crashes. Drivers often slow down at a rapid pace or brake abruptly when they realize there is a camera, thus causing the vehicle behind them to have little warning to stop. In many cases, this scenario can cause a rear end crash. It is quite controversial in that rather than promoting safety and preventing motor vehicle accidents, It has actually caused an increase in rear end collisions to occur.

Yellow Change Intervals

The conclusion is that red light running is not a function of errant driver behavior but rather of the conflict between traffic engineering practice and the laws of physics.

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Public opinion, for the most part, shows opposition to red light camera programs. Many feel that it has been implemented for the county to make revenue and play “gotcha” with the motorists.  These red light cameras have been coined the term “scameras” due to the idea that they are set up for other reasons than safety. It has been argued that some intersections provide little warning through a lack of signs to warn drivers.  It has been noted that the county has stopped providing information on camera locations. This has made residents feel that the integrity of the red light camera program is compromised, further supporting their opposition.

The reality is that many do feel the problems outweigh the benefits. School zone cameras were recently confronted with the same opposition, resulting in their repeal in Nassau County. Could the future bode true for red light cameras as well? Time will eventually tell, but in the meantime, keep your eyes peered open at intersections. Be sure to approach any intersection that has a red light camera with caution. As a motorist we can’t control the presence of these cameras, but we can make an effort to drive defensively and cautiously to avoid collisions.

If you have become a victim of an intersection accident involving red light cameras , consult with an attorney regarding your rights, you may be entitled to compensation.

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