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Report Shows Drop In Revenue From L.I. Red-Light Cameras, More Rear-End Crashes In Suffolk County

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Long Islanders awoke Tuesday to a new report on controversial red-light cameras.

Despite all the administrative fees that are tacked on, the latest data show revenue generated in cash-strapped Nassau and Suffolk counties has dropped or is flat. The new data also showed while citations are dropping at intersections with the cameras, rear-end collisions are up 30 percent at the intersections in Suffolk County and injuries also rose at some of the crossroads.

Traffic and parking violation agencies in the two counties claim money is meaningless to them.

"This has always been about safety, so we've never looked at it as a revenue generator," said Paul Margiotta, director of the Suffolk Traffic + Parking Violations Agency.

Are motorists more aware – looking or the "photo enforced" signs, spotting the surveillance? Are they stopping at yellow lights, or are they slamming on their brakes?

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, some people who have themselves been ticketed for red-light camera violations say safety has not improved.

"It's not safe. It's not safe," said Valerie Cruz. "We can't automatically stop when the red light is going on."

"People stop too short; stop too quick, and the people behind them just hit the back of them," said Javonte Samuels.

Although the total number of crashes at intersections with cameras declined, in Suffolk County the number of rear-end collisions jumped 30 percent.

"We need an analysis as to why that is happening," said Robert Sinclair of AAA Northeast. "It's great that overall crashes are down, but when you're trading one crash for another, that's not necessarily progress."

But Margiotta said the red-light cameras were not to blame for the rear-end crashes.

"All the numbers I see – rear-end accidents are about distracted driving. They're not about a camera at the intersection," Margiotta said.

Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Smithtown) would like to see the cameras go.

"This is a fraud on the public. This is clearly – how can you say, when almost half the locations – they're increasing accidents? Wouldn't you take those cameras down immediately?" he said. "They haven't. They've left them up for years. And I've got to tell you, the county's going to be liable for these accidents."

Several Suffolk legislators are now introducing a bill to suspend the red light camera program, while the county conducts a thorough safety study.

Meanwhile, two families plan to sue Suffolk County, claiming red-light cameras are to blame for the death of their loved ones.

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