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New York City's Red-Light Camera Program: Myths vs Realities

Myth: Red-light cameras cause more crashes as cars slam on the brakes to avoid a ticket.

Fact: Red light cameras greatly increase safety for everybody who uses the street. Intersections where cameras were installed saw a 56% decline in serious injuries, a 44% decrease in pedestrian injuries and a 16% decrease in all injuries.

Myth: Traffic signals with red-light cameras are timed with shorter yellow signals to snare motorists.

Fact: New York City's traffic signals are all timed to provide a minimum of three seconds of yellow light, which is consistent with national guidelines. Red-light cameras take pictures 0.3 seconds after the light has turned red.

Myth: News reports found camera locations where signals were timed to less than three seconds.

Fact: All locations in news reports were immediately inspected and all were found to have appropriate timing. Some intersections identified did not even have red light cameras or had only an inactive camera. There has been no substantiation that any red-light cameras in these reports were improperly timed or led to any violation being issued incorrectly.

Myth: Three seconds isn't long enough for a car to come to a stop.

Fact: Three seconds of yellow signal is consistent with federal and other national guidelines and has long been practiced across the nation. This timing provides ample stopping time for a vehicle traveling the speed limit.

Myth: Red-light cameras are only revenue-generators for the City.

Fact: Red-light cameras save lives and revenue drops as red light cameras deter violations. Red-light violations have dropped by 40 to 60% at locations where they were installed.

Myth: You can identify a red-light camera just by looking at it.

Fact: There are thousands of cameras on the streets of New York City to monitor things like traffic, bus lanes, security, and there are also many “dummy” boxes that which do not contain cameras. The City does not identify red-light camera locations in order to extend the cameras deterring effect beyond the locations where they are installed. Motorists must observe all rules at all intersections.