Suffolk County legislators vote along party lines to approve extension of red light camera program

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Suffolk County legislators have voted along party lines to approve an extension of the red-light camera program, after more than six hours of debate Wednesday.

The question of whether or not to keep them has stemmed from a debate - are the cameras a money grab or a safety initiative?

Supporters of the cameras say studies prove that drivers are being more careful.

"I do believe, from everything we've heard, and we've had a lot of discussions, behavior is changing," said Legislator Bridget Fleming. "Which means the program is saving lives. And I believe it would be a mistake to go back now."

Critics, however, say that although accidents with injuries have decreased, the number of accidents overall has increased because of rear-end crashes at intersections.

"It's not a law enforcement arm, it's a money grab, as everyone's been saying," said Legislator Tom Muratore. "I mean, the red-light camera, the majority of people that receive them, get them on a right on red."

Criticism has also stemmed from the locations where the cameras are placed. Critics say some locations have many cameras in a similar area while other places have none at all.

A public hearing was held during the meeting where more than 40 residents voiced their opinions on the cameras.

One person against the program said she questions why the rest of the state doesn't have them.

An individual who was in favor of the program said he believes it is the best way to deter people from running red lights, even if it's not a popular system.

In order to make the decision, the county hired an independent company to assess the effectiveness of the cameras. Because studies found that fatalities and injuries in crashes are down - despite the increase in overall crashes - the company recommended keeping the cameras.

Lawmakers are vowing to institute changes to the program, including creating a payment program for people struggling to pay for their violations.

MORE: Firm that recommended extending Suffolk red-light camera program called in to question

 

 

 

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