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Red Light Cameras In Suffolk Increase Revenue, If Not Safety

Tim Mueller

Suffolk County has released its annual Red Light Camera report, and it shows that about 150,000 more tickets were issued in 2014 compared to 2013, a 55 percent increase.

In 2013 Suffolk moved about 30 red light cameras from intersections with relatively few red light violations to intersections with more violations. The effect was a sizable increase in the number of tickets and a huge increase in the amount of money raised. Revenue from red light cameras went from $5 million in 2013 to nearly $28 million in 2014. Tom Cilmi, a Republican legislator from Islip, calls the program a money grab disguised in safety.

“We are receiving so much revenue, and ticket volume has gone up so much. And particularly that we are charging people administrative fees on top of the ticket prices is troubling,” Cilmi said.

While red light camera revenue has helped shore up the county’s perennial budget problems, their impact on safety has been mixed. Overall, the number of t-bone, or side impact, crashes at red light camera intersections was reduced by 20 percent. The number of rear end collisions, however, shot up 42 percent. Injuries at red light camera intersections dropped by about 4 percent. But that’s actually worse than non-red light camera intersections. According to state data, injuries at all intersections in the state dropped by about 5 percent.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.