City pleads with state lawmakers to reauthorize, expand red light camera program

The city’s Department of Transportation is lobbying Albany to reauthorize and expand NYC’s red light camera program.

Adams administration officials traveled to Albany on Wednesday to beg state lawmakers to reauthorize and expand the city’s red light camera program, a priority the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) describes as “urgent.”

Without reauthorization, the city’s 150 cameras catching and fining drivers running red lights will be turned off by the end of this year, something DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez says will cost New Yorkers their lives.

“Last year, a record 29 people were killed by red light running, and all of these deaths occurred at intersections without red light cameras,” said Rodriguez. “That is why we need our partners in Albany to not just renew this law before it expires, but also expand it.”

Under state law originally passed in the late 1980s, New York City is allowed to operate automated cameras at traffic lights across the city, meant to capture leadfoots running through reds and send them a ticket. The law, however, allows the cameras to be present at only 1% of the city’s 13,700 intersections.

Despite that, DOT says that red light running is reduced 73% at locations with cameras present, buttressing the agency’s case to expand the program to 10% of the city’s intersections. T-bone collisions dropped 65% and rear-ending fell 49%, while nearly all vehicles caught once by a camera never received more than one additional violation.

“Plain and simple,” Rodriguez said. “Red light cameras save lives.”

Legislation to reauthorize and expand the program is currently sitting in committee in the Assembly and the Senate. Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she supports the renewal.

DOT is also supporting legislation that would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend car registrations on any vehicle with five or more red-light tickets. Presently, the city’s most reckless motorists can accrue as many tickets as they please and keep driving as long as they pay the fine, because camera-issued tickets don’t count towards points on one’s license.

Safe-streets advocates recently celebrated a win with the passage of Sammy’s Law, which allows New York City to lower its speed limit from 25 to 20 miles per hour. The City Council still must approve it and Mayor Eric Adams must sign it into law, though both have been supportive.

Advocates are also seeking to pass a bill that would require speed-limiting devices be installed in all vehicles hit with at least 6 red light or speed camera tickets.