Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Speeders beware, Bloomy wants traffic cams everywhere

I eluded to this two posts ago, but it deserves its own post.

NYCDriving.com has put together a Google Map of known locations of red-light cameras throughout the city. You'll see 27 locations in the Bronx, none of which appear to be confirmed (I'll drive around Riverdale tonight, check them out and get back to you tomorrow). Actually, one that I can confirm, but isn't on the map (so make it 28), is the intersection of Jerome Ave. and Gun Hill Road. There is a sign, similar to the photo here, that points out a camera.

According to the Daily News, more than $52 million was collected in fines last year from motorists who blew through red lights while the cameras were rolling. Over 1 million fines were given.

There are now 150 red-light cameras scattered throughout the city, and Mayor Bloomberg has put the pressure on Albany to add 40 new overhead contraptions that are also capable of measuring a driver's speed. The electronic info is then used to issue tickets - all without a cop. Bloomberg has also said he would be willing to have a camera on every intersection in the city if it could save lives and raise money at the same time.

Each red-light summons sets you back $50, and what's worse is that it's mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle, along with a photo of the license plate and snapshots of the car as it passes through the intersection. So you make the violation, and then days later your day is ruined. However, no points are put on a driver's license; it's the same as if you got a parking ticket.

Even though studies show that red light cameras save lives, many people oppose them, saying that they represent a Big Brother invasion of privacy and that the motivation behind them is driven by revenue, not safety concerns.

In order to add more cameras--ones that will give drivers a violation for running a light--a law would have to be passed in the State Legislature. From what I've been told, the biggest obstacle is Rochester Assemblyman David Gantt, who is the chair of the transportation committee.

Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, however, thinks they would be a good thing for the city. 

"I’m not opposed to increasing the number of red light cameras; it’s likely to have a positive impact on people’s lives," Dinowitz said, but added that he isn't sure if putting them at every intersection would be a good thing. "It’s pretty hard to argue against red light cameras."

He also said he'd be willing to support them more if the Department of Transportation would speed up the process of putting a traffic signal where the community requests one.

"They’ve been requested and it’s a roundabout bureaucracy," he said. "Bloomberg gets something at the snap of a finger, but the community gets a long, drawn out process." DOT can typically take weeks to study an area, and then the community must wait at least 18 months before the same area can be studied again.

Jump below for a transcript of Bloomberg's back and forth with reporters during a press conference the other day.

Bloomberg: I think we should have them on every corner if we could. Using technology instead of having cops makes a lot of sense, and something, because of the economics, that we really have to do, and it does show that they are very effective.
Question: I had read that after a while people know where the red light cameras are…
Bloomberg: Well, if that were the case, the fines from the red light cameras would be diminishing, and it’s not. So, just the evidence that you have, says whoever wrote that doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I’m sure there’s somebody — but if you know that there’s a red light camera there, and you stop, rather than running through the light — isn’t that what we like? So I hope they’re right, although the evidence says so far  they’re wrong. But if they watch you on television, I know they’re going to say ‘I’m never going to go through a red light again.’ And incidentally, if people didn’t go through red lights, you’d save a lot of lives, of elderly and kids and that sort of thing.

The mayor went on to say that it’s a particular safety issue for seniors. “I can tell you as I get older, you don’t hear as well, see as well, you don’t react as quickly, and a disproportionate percentage of people who get hit from people running red lights are … the seniors.”
Another reporter: What about speed cameras?
Bloomberg: A lot of places are using these…we can fight this all we want. But the world as you saw in the studio is going towards using technology. We cannot afford to put a cop on every corner, a firehouse in every place — we have to find ways to do more with less…we just can’t afford to pay to have people do a lot of things that society needs done.
Question:  Back to city speed cameras…
Bloomberg: I have no idea. But we’d certainly need Albany legislation, because … we can’t impose a fine without Albany acquiescing. We can put up cameras, and in fact you do see places where there’s a sign that says ‘you’re going 30 miles an hour, the speed limit’s 20.’  But we can’t fine you unless Albany agrees. That’s the thing. We can put red light cameras on every single intersection — you just can’t use them. Maybe what we should do is do it and start publishing in the paper who does it and then the list of the senators and assemblymen who keep us from having cameras, and every time there’s somebody hit, say ‘okay, assemblyman and senator so-and- so didn’t think that person’s life…this our lives of our people we’re talking about, this is not something cute, and we’ve got to do something about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment