Unfortunately, I can write from personal experience about the 60 red-light cameras that have been installed in Nassau County since last summer. No, not from driving, but from the envelope received that contained a friendly Notice of Liability Red Light Camera Violation.
Although the vehicle was being driven by someone who shall remain nameless, the Notice stated that under the law the registered owner of the vehicle is liable to pay a fine. The Notice even came with 3 color photos and an internet link to a video of the infraction, which video completely destroyed the defense being offered by the still nameless driver. My first reaction was that I would unfairly have points assessed against me when I wasn’t even the driver. Not to worry the notice states that no points will be assessed. This was particularly good news because there was no opportunity to plead “not guilty” based upon the contention that the registrant was not driving at the time of the traffic infraction.
Only two defenses were allowed the vehicle had been stolen or a ticket was issued by a police officer at the scene and neither applied. This made me wonder, whats the point of in effect giving a ticket to someone without regard to whether that person is at fault or responsible? The offending driver gets off scot free. The registrant is left with no real defense or ability to shift responsibility on the offending driver.
The answer is … Money! The red-light program is a budget closer. Suffolk County plans to bring in $6 million with cameras at 50 intersections. Nassau County expects to make $18 million in revenues included the 2010 budget and $27 million next year. The county expects to have 140 cameras installed by next year. The cameras have so far resulted in the issuance of 133,693 tickets. Luckily, the fine in Nassau County is $50.00, less than the $95.00 fine for a similar violation in New York City.
In the scheme of things, at least knowing that there is the potential for getting a ticket for running a red light (including making a right turn on red without stopping) might be some sort of a deterrent. Running a red light can have real consequences, as the Wednesday’s crash in Hicksville when, according to witnesses, a truck ran a red light and broadsided a Pontiac being driven by a mother, Barbara Ryan, 44, with her daughter Joanna, 11, as a passenger. Both Ryans were killed in the accident. The owner of the truck involved in the fatal Hicksville accident was found to be “deficient” in at least two safety standard categories and given a “conditional” rating by the trucking industry’s regulating agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The truck’s owner is California Fruit Markets Inc. of Watertown, New York.