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06 Dec2012

Class-Action Suit Attacking NYC Red Light Cameras

Who likes red light cameras?

Good news if you don’t.  A class action lawsuit has been filed against NYC and it accuses the city of rigging the timing of the light cycles to encourage more violations and thus more fines.

Robert Sinclair, AAA motor club New York spokesperson, says they are in favor of cameras that are in place to monitor and prevent red light violations.  AAA is in favor of the concept but only when it the cameras are “done to certain engineering criteria.”

Federal law requires providing drivers with enough time to get through a yellow light — three seconds at the typical 30-mile-per-hour intersection.

In October, engineers at AAA New York discovered a problem. At some city intersections with the cameras, the yellow lights were almost a half-second too fast.  Red light camera ticket recipients now are arguing that they may have been set up to violate the red light, expecting a longer yellow only to be photographed entering the intersection right when it turned red.

If these lights were intentionally shortened, there doesn’t seem to be an explanation beyond a blatant attempt to use the cameras as primarily a revenue generator.

Brian Hughes is part of the lawsuit.  He paid a $50 fine after a camera caught him running a light in Manhattan in 2010. The suit is alleging fraud against the city.

There are approximately 150 red light cameras in NYC and they helped generate more than $235 million in fine revenue during the last five years.  Last year alone was $47 million.

The New York City Department of Transportation denies any improper timing of light cycles at the camera intersections in question.

Note that these camera tickets are not part of your driving record.  They are treated as parking violations and written against a license plate and registered owner, not a driver or driver license.

Scott Feifer