Nassau County gave a green light to expanding its red light camera program.
The voted Monday to ask the state to increase the number of red light camera intersections by an additional 50 intersections, bringing the total number of intersections in Nassau to a possible 100.
Bills for the proposed expansion have been introduced in both the state senate and assembly, but have not yet been passed by their respective houses. The bill is sponsored in the assembly by Charles Lavine, D-Glen Cove.
County officials produced a list of 125 candidate intersections for Phase II of the red light camera program, from which they would pick 50 intersections. Once the bills get out of their respective committees, the county will put together a view of different locations and set up temporary cameras to survey the location and evaluate them for placement of a red light camera.
A committee consisting of representatives from traffic safety, engineering, traffic and parking violations and the department of public works itself makes the final determination on camera placement.
Legislator David Denenberg, D-Merrick, found it “troubling” that 14 of the proposed intersections were within his district alone, with an additional nine in Freeport, and a total of 30 were in minority areas.
County officials said that the location choice was made where accidents have occurred over a certain period of time. The intersections are ranked solely by the number of accidents that have occurred there.
Nassau is looking at intersections which will “most benefit from having a red light camera there,” and which may produce a so-called a “halo effect,” of reducing accidents by slowing down motorists who are aware a camera is in the area.
“I do remain concerned that public safety promotion if that’s in addition to obviously revenue generation,” Denenberg said, adding that his personal opinion was the county has always . The county did , which was dedicated to Nassau’s social programs. Denenberg suggested spreading the camera locations out equally among the county,” and not concentrated in any one area.
While studies indicate that red light cameras reduce the number of fatal head-on collisions, they have also come under scrutiny for reported increases in rear end collisions from motorists stopping short in order to avoid getting a ticket.
Nassau traffic safety coordinator Christopher Mistron said that timings of the lights meet Federal standards and the “amber time” – the duration of the yellow light – is evaluated for each photo, adding that “we do see a decrease following a slight increase” in rear end collisions as the area with a camera becomes known to drivers.
County officials cited a reduction of 20 fatalities from 2009-10 possibly resulting from “knowledge of (a camera’s) existence” and noted a reduction in crashes or a reduction in the severity of the crash to a milder one or a fender bender.
Locations were also originally selected to be outside village jurisdictions, but the legality of the county placing the camera into a local municipality was called into question. According to the law, the county can place cameras within village confines as well as on state roads, but would have to share the revenue with the other municipality. However, the camera can only be placed with the cooperation of the villages. The new list includes candidate locations on both state and village roads.
Legislator Wayne Wink, D-Roslyn, singled out the intersection of Old Country Road and Franklin Avenue/ Mineola Boulevard as a location many have deemed dangerous. The intersection sits at the northeast corner of the Legislative building property, but also on the border between the villages of Garden City and Mineola.
Mistron said that Garden City was one of the villages which “has not embraced the program” at present.
“I guess we need to do some work then,” Wink said.