Revenue from Nassau County, NY’s red-light camera program jumped nearly 44% in 2016, compared with the prior year. The number of crashes in all major categories, including those with injuries, also rose, according to a new county report, released in June.
County officials said an increase in 2016 to the “Driver Responsibility” fee, from $30 to $45, likely boosted the amount of money generated from the program – marking the first sign of revenue growth since 2012. The fee, which pays for issuing, processing and adjudicating violations, is among several penalties that have brought the cost of red-light camera violations to $150 each. The funds collected are deposited into the county’s general fund, officials said.
In 2016, red-light cameras at 86 intersections countywide produced 505,089 tickets that generated $48.5 million in fines and administrative and late fees, according to the report.
In 2015, when Nassau had cameras at 84 intersections, the program generated 487,298 tickets and $33.7 million in fees and fines, the data show.
Nassau and Suffolk counties, as mandated by state law, release annual reports that include revenue and crash data at intersections with red-light cameras. Nassau’s new report analyzes crash data gathered by the state Transportation Department for 2016. Red-light cameras, which are installed 50 to 150 feet before the stop line of an intersection, capture digital still images and video of a driver and automatically issue violations.
The report showed that when 2016 was compared with 2015:
- Total accidents increased 8.42%, to 1,764.
- Accidents with injuries rose 6.8%, to 563.
- Rear-end crashes increased 10.8%, to 785.
- Side-impact crashes rose 11.7%, to 782.
Officials in Nassau and Suffolk say the red-light camera program, which began in both counties in 2009, is aimed at boosting safety by penalizing motorists who do not slow down and stop at red lights. Critics, including some Nassau and Suffolk lawmakers, call the programs a money grab designed to boost revenue.
The last time revenue from the program grew – in 2012, when there was a 60% increase – resulted from Nassau adding 11 camera intersections. Annual revenue had declined or stayed flat until 2016.
Suffolk County in May said its red-light camera program generated $30.9 million in 2016, about the same as in 2015.
Fines were $50 per ticket in 2009, $65 in 2011, $80 in 2012 and now are $95, including the $45 driver responsibility fee, but not including the $55 “public safety fee” that was imposed by the Nassau County Legislature as of Jan. 2, 2017.
Public safety experts have credited red-light camera programs with reducing the most serious collisions. In 2016, there were no reported fatalities at any of Nassau’s red-light camera intersections, the report shows.
The State Legislature authorized 50 camera locations each for Nassau and Suffolk in 2009. In 2012, state lawmakers allowed each county to add 50 sites. Suffolk finished installation of its full allotment of cameras in 2014. Nassau has red-light cameras in place at 86 intersections.
Accidents could be up at all county intersections, not just those with red-light cameras, due to increased traffic volume, weather or engineering issues such as the timing of yellow lights, according to experts.
Nassau’s annual report of the red-light camera program compares the number of accidents at intersections with cameras for a 12-month period against the number of accidents before installation of the cameras. By that measure, accidents in every major category were down in 2016. Total crashes declined by 26%, crashes with injuries were down by 39%, head-on collisions declined by 84%, rear-end accidents were down 34% and side-impact collisions declined by 1%, according to the 2016 report.
As in previous years, red-light cameras at the intersection of Old Country Road and Ring Road near Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City generated the most red-light camera violations: 29,245 in 2016. The intersection of Community Drive and North Service Road in Lake Success ranked second, with 25,896 tickets.