Red Light Camera Improvement Bill Is Shelved [AUDIO]
A bill that would have increased the amber light times at some red light camera intersections, and prohibited police departments from using red light cameras to issue "failure to stop before turning right" tickets has been shelved indefinitely.
The measure, which was being considered by the Assembly Transportation Committee, was put on hold following testimony from some law enforcement officials, who said it would create a double standard for drivers.
Assembly Transportation Chairman John Wisniewski, who's co-sponsoring the bill, says at this point, "It's not clear whether different towns are using different standards for stopping before making a right on red. Part of the problem in any enforcement of the statutes we create is that there's humans involved, and different people have different perceptions…We, as legislators, have to reconcile our goal in improving the quality of this law while making sure that it works from a practical standpoint."
He also says we need to keep the overall intent of the red light camera pilot program in mind.
"We have a state where aggressive driving has become kind of a badge of honor. We need to change that…My whole goal of examining this legislation is to address the concerns that undermine the credibility of the program."
Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, who's been fighting to terminate the red light camera pilot program for years, was disappointed by the decision.
"I don't think we need any changes to the bill actually, I think the bill is a pretty decent bill," says O'Scanlon. "Unless we do some concrete things, we will not increase the public's confidence in this program. If we do nothing, if we permit this to drag on, people are just going to become as cynical as they would be justified in being…I'm hoping that's not the path we're headed down."
He also says, "Everyone who made these arguments (in favor of red light cameras) were people with a vested interest in this program. They're making millions of dollars…I want to make sure we're not ripping people off. Right now we are, and every day that this doesn't get done, we're permitting that to continue."
As for the argument that not allowing police to use red light cameras to issue tickets to drivers who don't stop before making a right on red?
O'Scanlon says, "If we want to talk about double standards, then we've got to eliminate all the cameras, because right now there's a double standard - cameras at some intersections, and not at others…We know that unquestionably, we've seen the videos, we see video reviewed by other cops that don't have a vested interest in this program saying that these tickets are - chicken excrement is how they refer to it typically…A cop on the beat would never issue many of these tickets…I do have a fear that some people may be trying to play out the clock - and that would be sad. The people are being ripped off every day. Every day that we do nothing to at least fix the flaws of the pilot program is a day that thousands more people get tickets that they probably didn't deserve under the law. That's not fair, it's not right- and everybody should be on board, wanting to address this as quickly as possible."
He also says, "The whole red light ticket program wasn't supposed to be about whether or not a driver is coming to an absolute complete stop before turning right at a red, it was supposed to be about people barreling through the intersections and causing T-bone accidents that are really serious. Let's focus on that, that's not unreasonable…I really want to fix it- I want people to know that our government is not setting them up to be ripped off - that's my main priority…I am fearful now that we'll get nothing done, and that really sends an awful message to the public."