Bill to suspend Suffolk red-light cameras fails

Leg. Trotta's bill to suspend red light cameras to be considered/debated in the Public Safety Committee Thursday.

Leg. Trotta's bill to suspend red light cameras to be considered/debated in the Public Safety Committee Thursday. (5/26/16)

COMMACK - Critics of Suffolk County's red-light camera program demanded its end at a public hearing Thursday before the Legislature's Public Safety Committee voted down a bill that would have temporarily suspended it.

The program, which began in July 2010, was ostensibly enacted to prevent accidents at busy intersections. Opponents cite evidence that the cameras have not actually made intersections safer and accuse the county of employing a profit motive.

Suffolk Legislator Robert Trotta recently introduced a bill to suspend the program pending further review. Trotta says he designed the bill after a study found that rear-end accidents had increased at some intersections. 

"There's been 184 percent increase in accidents with injuries in my legislative district," Trotta says. "How is that about safety?" 

Although the committee killed the bill, it could see a resurrection if Trotta is able to secure signatures from 10 legislators on a petition to bring it to vote in front of the full Suffolk County Legislature.

Some residents who support the cameras, like Rachel Lugo of South Setauket, blamed the increase in accidents on drunken driving or driving while distracted by text messaging.

Dawn Nappi's daughter Angelica was killed in an accident involving an unlicensed driver who ran a red light. Nappi says she used to support the cameras, but has changed her mind after learning of the traffic study.

"I'm not going to stand behind something that's not working," Nappi says.

A spokeswoman for County Executive Steve Bellone says the administration has no plans to back away from the program. She says that although rear-end collisions are up at some lights, overall accidents in the intersections are down by 3.1 percent.

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