NYC’s DOT Asks For Expansion Of Expiring Red-Light Cam Program

Red light cameras are situated at one percent, or about 150, of NYC’s intersections. With the program expiring after 30 years, NYC’s DOT has thrown its support behind a series of bills that would renew the cameras, as well as expand them to 10 percent of the city’s intersections.

| 21 Mar 2024 | 06:42

NYC’s red-light camera program could soon expand to more intersections, if the city’s Department of Transportation finds its requests fulfilled.

State legislation creating the red-light camera program was initially enacted 30 years ago, and is slated to sunset by December. On March 20, the DOT called for a renewal and expansion of the program, throwing their support behind two state legislators pushing a package of bills that would do just that. To back up their quest, the transportation agency has also released a “Red-Light Camera Report,” which notes that a record 29 New Yorkers died last year in crashes stemming from blown red lights. None of those intersections had red-light cameras, the DOT added.

The current red light camera program applies to one percent, or 150, of all NYC intersections. The expansion bill would expand that benchmark to 10 percent, or more than 1,300, city intersections.

The DOT announced the legislative push at an intersection in Queens, where two friends–David Fernandez and Joel Adames–were tragically killed by a speeding driver blowing a red light in August 2022. Bereaved family members joined the proceedings.

“The loss of a loved one is always a painful event, but it takes remarkable strength to turn that pain into purpose. That’s what these families are doing today,” DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez told the assembled press.

Elise Adames, Joel’s sister, expressed that lingering pain during a turn at the mic. Fighting back tears, she spoke of Joel being a great father to his daughter, and somebody who was “passionate about his community.” She also spoke of David as a “brother,” one who loved to dance. She said that the most “meaningful tribute” to their lives would be “to address the cause of their untimely deaths, by advocating for safer roads.”

Danny Harris, the executive director of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, recounted walking to school with his kids when he witnessed somebody blow a red light. He instinctively reached for his children, only to be told by a bystander that such an action was unremarkable, as “this is New York.” He found this appalling, and said that people “fear their ability to cross the street” without measures such as red light cameras, which he called “proven tools that Albany continues to withhold from us.”

Some Manhattan politicians, who would certainly see a rise in red light traffic cameras in their districts if the bills passed, issued statements signaling their support for the bills.

State Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, who represents a swath of the borough’s East Side, is one of the co-sponsors of the camera expansion bill: “Far too many New Yorkers are lost every year from preventable, traffic-related incidents. Recently, I lost my neighbor when she was struck in a crosswalk while having the right-of-way.”

“Albany should renew the Red-Light Program and allow the City to operate at more intersections, full stop,” UWS City Council Member Gale Brewer said.

Borough President Mark Levine, Brewer’s successor, invoked the same tragedy that the DOT called attention to. “Adding red-light cameras to more intersections is not just a good idea–it is a responsible and proactive step toward creating safer streets for everyone. Red-light cameras are integral to making sure tragedies like David and Joel’s deaths aren’t repeated,” he said.