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AAA: NYS Red-Light Camera Programs Have Dropped The Ball In Reporting Effectiveness

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A study by AAA found serious flaws in the red-light camera programs in New York City and several other municipalities in the state.

The study of the five red-light camera programs in New York State found that the municipalities operating them – New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Yonkers, and Rochester – "have failed, to varying degrees, to comply with state law that requires reports that measure program effectiveness."

The five pilot programs are all set to expire on Dec. 1, and AAA New York State is against any legislation that could remove state oversight.

AAA wants the red-light programs to continue, but with "strict oversight of state requirements."

"With nearly $100 million in yearly revenue, transparency is key to assure the public that the programs are about safety, not revenue enhancement," AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair Jr. said in a news release. "We support properly administered red light cameras for their safety benefits, but many municipalities have not demonstrated a pattern of producing quality reports, making it difficult to comprehensively assess the safety effects."

The report criticized the New York City program for failing to include crash data and intersection-specific data in its 2012 report. AAA said such data are the only means of measuring the success of the program.

The 2012 report from Yonkers failed to include crash, financial, or adjudication data, AAA said.

The report from Rochester contained no violation, financial or adjudication data – which the AAA called "especially disturbing" since that city's Department of Transportation found insufficient yellow light times at two intersections – leading to doubts about the program's fairness.

The Suffolk County report contained no major problems, but the reports were almost a year late because of a lack of data from the state, AAA said. The Suffolk report also said the report documented an increase in rear-end collisions.

The only program to receive positive reviews from AAA was the Nassau County program, which it called "exceedingly transparent and accessible." Nassau County offered tours of the its violation reviewing facility, and documented a decrease in all types of crashes and a decrease in revenue that indicated fewer violations.

The state offered five recommendations to improve red-light camera programs:

• Extend the pilot programs for two more years;

• Disclose all reports to the public;

• Create a state oversight committee to ensure compliance with reporting requirements;

• Clarify the requirements of red-light camera program reports;

• Educate the public about right turns on red and the need to come to a complete stop. In New York City, right turns on red are illegal unless otherwise noted by a traffic sign; elsewhere, they are legal if drivers stop completely;

• Require video in New York City and statewide.

Red light cameras so far have raked in $400 million for the New York City.

AAA has also voiced it support for upping the number of speed cameras near schools.

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