4/9/2009New York Legislature Approves Massive Traffic Camera Expansion
New York state legislature approves massive expansion in red light cameras.
As budget deficits continue to soar at all levels of New York government, the state legislature on Tuesday approved a package of bills to provide relief through the use of red light cameras. The package of six bills extends new authority to use red light cameras to Buffalo, Nassau County, Rochester, Suffolk County and Yonkers. The legislature also gave the nod to New York City's long-held desire to increase by half the number of automated ticketing machines already installed.
Each project is called a "demonstration program" that will produce detailed reports on an annual basis until the program expiration date of 2014. New York City began its demonstration project in 1994 and has never yet produced this report as required by law. Moreover, the city conceals the locations of cameras and allows no independent study of the effects on traffic safety.
The proposed expansions were approved in the state Assembly by a margin of around 100 to 35 and were adopted by the State Senate by a margin of about 54-8. The bills' passage was made possible when state Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman David Gantt (D-Rochester) converted from camera opponent to promoter of red light cameras. This conversion happened last year after Sensys Traffic, a Swedish company interested in breaking into the US traffic camera market through the Albany firm CMA Consulting Services, paid $80,000 to Gantt's former legislative counsel, Robert Scott Gaddy. The Buffalo News exposed the link after noticing that Gantt introduced legislation specifically designed to force local jurisdictions to use the technology offered by the client of his former employee.
Although Gantt's legislation is now technology-neutral, it opens the door for Sensys to bid for the lucrative red light camera contracts throughout the state. After procedural approval in the state Assembly, the bills will become law with the signature of Governor David Paterson (D), an enthusiastic supporter of photo ticketing.
Independent studies of the use of red light cameras show that the devices tend to create an increase in the total number of injuries and accidents (view studies). On the other hand, New York City has cleared more than $75 million in net profit on its program. The text of the New York City and Rochester bills is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.