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The use of red-light cameras to issue tickets for traffic violations in Rockland County and other parts of the state has always been justified by elected officials as a traffic safety measure. Some motorists have suspected that use of the cameras was more to increase government revenues than to promote highway safety in New York. People point to approval of the cameras in upstate communities a few years ago to help them raise money at a time when they were having budget issues as proof of the allegedly real reason why cameras replaced police officers to enforce red light violations.

Now, a study of the use of red-light cameras in another state appears to cast doubt on their impact on traffic safety. At intersections where the cameras were operating, collisions involving vehicles slamming into each other from different directions did, in fact, decline. Unfortunately, the decline in collisions in the middle of intersections was offset by a dramatic increase in rear-end crashes as drivers tried to avoid getting a ticket by sharply applying their brakes before entering the intersection.

The findings of the study include evidence that officials opted to decrease the amount of time a motorist was given to get through an intersection under a yellow light. They accomplished this by reducing the timing of yellow lights to make the signals go to red more quickly. Once motorists realized this, they took to slamming on their brakes rather than enter an intersection on a yellow light causing unsuspecting drivers who might be following too closely to crash into them.

The fines and surcharges associated with a moving violation such as a red light violation, stop sign violation or improper passing can be costly. When driver license points are also involved, the result could be a suspended license.

If you have been the victim of a red-light camera, your best source of information and guidance would probably be a criminal law attorney who is well-versed in handling traffic violations.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Can the Red-Light Camera Be Saved?," Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Dec. 26, 2014

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