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March 20, 2024
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NYC DOT Joins Families of Victims Killed by Red-Light Runner to Push for Renewal and Expansion of the City’s Expiring Red-Light Camera Program

Event coincides with new report showing red-light cameras reduce red-light running by 73 percent, saving lives and preventing serious injuries

Families of David Fernandez and Joel Adames, both killed in a fatal red-light running collision in Inwood in 2022, called for Albany to reauthorize red-light cameras and expand their use beyond the 1 percent of intersections where they are currently permitted

New York – New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez today joined the families of David Fernandez and Joel Adames, who were tragically killed in a red-light running crash in Inwood in 2022, to call for the renewal and expansion of the city's red-light camera program. The event coincides with the release of NYC DOT's Red-Light Camera Report showing the tremendous safety benefits of red-light cameras. Report data indicates that red-light cameras, currently permitted under state law at 1 percent of New York City intersections, dramatically reduce red-light running and dangerous crashes, saving lives and preventing serious injuries. The push comes amidst a record surge in traffic fatalities attributable to red-light running. Last year, 29 people died as a result of red-light running, an all-time high. All 29 fatalities occurred at intersections without a red-light camera.

Attendees at the event called for passage of a package of bills to renew and expand the red-light camera program and to crack down on the city's most reckless red-light runners. The legislation would expand the camera program from 1 percent of the city's intersections to 10 percent of intersections that have a traffic signal. A companion bill would require the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend the vehicle registration of vehicles that receive five or more red-light camera violations in a 12-month period.

"The data is clear: red-light cameras save lives. No family should have to bury a loved one because of a reckless driver, and we need Albany to renew and expand the red-light camera program to prevent the next tragedy from occurring," said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. "New York City should be able to use all available tools to keep New Yorkers safe and prevent crashes like the one that killed David Fernandez and Joel Adames."

"In mourning the tragic loss of our brothers, David and Joel, we're reminded of their vibrant lives—David's love for dance and his dedication as a barber, and Joel's devotion to his daughter and passion for his family and his community. While we continue to honor their individual legacies, we recognize that the most meaningful tribute to them is to address the cause of their untimely deaths," said the families of David Fernandez and Joel Adames in a joint statement. "By advocating for safer roads through programs like red-light cameras, we confront the negligence that took them from us. Doing anything less would not only be a disservice to their memory but a failure to protect our community from similar tragedies. Let's unite in this cause, for the safety of our streets is the truest legacy we can offer to David and Joel."

"We have lost too many of our students and other members of our school communities to motorists failing to follow the law. Red-light cameras began in school zones because they work, and our students deserve that sort of safety wherever they walk in their city," said Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. "We unequivocally support the expansion of the city's red-light camera program because red-light cameras keep our students and their communities safe."

"Pedestrian safety remains critically important around older adult centers and the entire city. Red-light cameras keep all New Yorkers safe, and it is time to install more of them to reduce the number of tragic speeding-related crashes," said Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. "By making our streets safe, we are helping ensure our city is even more accessible, walkable, and inclusive for New Yorkers of all ages."

"The red-light camera program is a vital tool for accountability, which in turn, leads to better decision-making by drivers," said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. "What happened to David Fernandez and Joel Adames should never have occurred and we have to use every tool available to prevent future deaths. We owe it their families, and to every New Yorker, to make our streets safer."

Red Light Camera Report

New data from NYC DOT's annual red-light camera report shows a steady decline in average daily violations at camera locations, from roughly 30.8 daily violations per camera in 1994, to 8.18 violations per camera in 2023, a 73 percent decrease. T-bone collisions causing injury are also dramatically down at camera locations, with a 65 percent decline citywide when comparing these injury collisions in 2023 to the three years before the program began in 1994. Rear-end collisions are also down 49% in 2023 under the same statistical comparison.

Red Light Camera Report Graphic Chart


NYC DOT currently operates a 30-year-old red-light camera program, with the authority from Albany to operate cameras at 150 intersections, or 1 percent of signalized intersections in the city. This first-in-the-nation program is set to expire this year, right as the city experiences a deadly increase in red-light running. In 2023, 29 people were killed in red-light running crashes—the worst annual total ever recorded and more than double the average annual total of such deaths from the previous decade—all at intersections without red-light cameras.

This legislative session, the NYC DOT and the Adams administration is working with lawmakers to pass two bills relating to red-light cameras. The first, from State Senator Andrew Gounardes (S2812) and Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz (A5259), would reauthorize the program until December 1, 2030 and expand the number of locations where they can be used from 150 intersections to 1,325, or about 10 percent of signalized intersections.

A second piece of legislation, from State Senator Michael Gianaris (S451) and Assemblymember William Magnarelli (A7621), would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend the registrations for vehicles that get five or more red-light camera violations in a 12-month period

Tragic Red Light Fatalities in Inwood

David Fernandez, 40, and Joel Adames, 31, were walking in Inwood in August of 2022 when they were struck and killed due to the actions of a reckless, speeding driver who ran a red light. The driver, Leandro Diaz-Ramirez, sped through the red signal at the intersection of Sherman Avenue and West 207 Street and crashed into another vehicle. The collision caused both cars to jump the curb at the northeast corner of the intersection, where they struck Fernandez and Adames as they stood on the sidewalk. The driver of the car that ran the red light was arrested and, on March 1, 2024, was sentenced to serve between five and 15 years in prison for manslaughter.

"Too many accidents occur at the hands of drivers who have proven they are dangerous behind the wheel," said State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris. "We know who the bad drivers are. Getting them off the streets should be a no-brainer."

"This new data makes clear what we already knew to be true: red-light cameras save lives, and we need more of them," said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. "Too many New Yorkers are all-too familiar with the pain facing David's family after losing someone they love in a crash. My legislation to expand red-light cameras to more intersections across the city can help put an end to this nightmare. I'm grateful to Mayor Adams, Commissioner Rodriguez and NYCDOT for their support getting this bill passed this year."

"As we confront an alarming surge in fatalities resulting from drivers disobeying red lights, the evidence is clear: red-light cameras save lives. The NYC DOT's Red-Light Camera Report underscores these cameras' vital role in preventing road tragedies," said Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz. "My bill, A.5259, seeks to renew and expand the city's red-light camera program, ensuring safer streets for all New Yorkers. By increasing camera locations from 150 to 1,325, we can significantly enhance traffic safety and prevent further loss of life. Let us pass this crucial legislation, reaffirming our commitment to protecting our communities."

"Since the introduction of the red-light camera program in New York City, tens of thousands of accidents have been prevented and countless lives have been saved through enforcement. I believe the further expansion of red-light cameras into more intersections throughout New York City will only help to reduce vehicular accidents further, save more lives and hold reckless motorists accountable," said Assemblymember William B. Magnarelli. "I have also sponsored legislation in the Assembly, A.7621, which would increase enforcement of those who run red lights by authorizing the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend any vehicle registration for vehicles that receive five or more (5+) red-light violations in a 12-month period. This legislation would help crack down on repeat offenders while further protecting the public from dangerous motorists."

"Adding red-light cameras to more intersections is not just a good idea – it is a responsible and proactive step toward creating safer streets for everyone. Red-light cameras are integral to making sure tragedies like David and Joel's deaths aren't repeated," said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. "It's imperative that we pass laws that properly enforce against reckless drivers who put their neighbors and our families in harms way."

"Red-light cameras save lives," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. "That's why the state legislature needs to pass legislation to allow the city to increase the number of red-light cameras it can deploy. These cameras make our streets safer for all who use them."

"Southern Brooklyn has seen far too many fatalities and injuries on the streets due to reckless driving. The red-light camera program is a life saving measure that brings accountability for drivers that disregard traffic laws and public safety," said State Senator Iwen Chu. "I support the expansion of the necessary traffic enforcement program so more intersections can be covered and prevent future tragedies."

"Every tragedy demands decisive action. The loss of David Fernandez and Joel Adames in Inwood serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to renew and expand our red-light camera program. We owe it to their memory and to all New Yorkers to prevent such senseless fatalities," said State Senator Robert Jackson. "I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues in Albany to save lives and ensure safer streets for everyone."

"Red-light cameras save lives, it's as simple as that - which is just what today's report demonstrates so clearly," said State Senator Liz Krueger. "It's critical that the City be able to use every tool they can to reduce traffic fatalities, and it's just common sense to expand a program that works, especially when New Yorkers' lives are on the line. That's why I support these critical bills in Albany."

"The red-light camera program has been a tremendous success when it comes to making our streets safer," said State Senator John Liu. "Still, we are in the midst of a record surge of traffic fatalities from drivers running red lights. We need to expand this program, not so the city can collect fines, but so we can change the behavior of reckless driving and prevent the loss of more lives like David Fernandez, Joel Adames and countless others."

"The red-light camera program will serve as a deterrent for dangerous driving habits and prevent future casualties," said State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud. "I applaud NYC DOT for addressing this issue and their continuous efforts to making our city streets safe and ultimately saving lives."

"Red light cameras save lives. The state needs to provide expanded authorization to the City of New York for their use," said Assemblymember Chris Burdick. "This is commonsense legislation that I strongly support."

"We can save lives and prevent injuries by extending and expanding the City's red-light camera program and if necessary getting reckless drivers off the road," said Assemblymember Robert Carroll. "I want to thank my colleagues Assemblymember Dinowitz and Assemblymember Magnarelli for their leadership as the prime sponsors of the legislation that will effectuate these much-needed policy initiatives."

"Far too many New Yorkers are lost every year from preventable, traffic-related incidents. Recently, I lost my neighbor when she was struck in a crosswalk while having the right-of-way," said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein. "I am proud to co-sponsor A5259 to increase the number of traffic-control signal photo violation-monitoring devices, which make our roads safer. There must be consequences for reckless driving, it endangers lives."

"This report confirms what we have already known for some time; the red-light camera program is undeniably successful in getting motorists to drive more safely. After 30 years of decreasing violations at 150 intersections, the time has come to expand this program so that more intersections benefit from the behavior modifying effect these cameras have at intersections in which they are installed," said Assemblymember Deborah Glick. "We also must crack down on the minority of motorists that continue to run red lights despite having received multiple fines for doing so. Enacting these two measures this session will further protect pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists from reckless drivers."

"Despite experiencing an unimaginable personal tragedy, the loved ones of Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Adames have stood up to protect their fellow New Yorkers. Their courage is awe-inspiring, and one of our primary motivators to get this package done," said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi. "I was proud to join my friend, Mr. Magnarelli, as the first sponsor of bill A7621, and remain committed to supporting legislation that will hold reckless drivers accountable, and most importantly, prevent future tragedies. Thank you to Commissioner Rodriguez for this proactive showing of leadership, to the Queens DOT team for continuing to promote safety across our borough, and to everyone who has stood for this legislative package today."

"We commend and thank NYC DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. As families continue to mourn, the 2023 report's release heightens the need for action," said Assemblymember Rebecca A. Seawright. "Bills A5259 and A7621 would reauthorize NYC's successful Red-Light Camera Program through 2030, expand the number of signaled locations, and suspend repeat violators' registrations. Let's stop these tragedies for good."

"Cameras at red lights are a basic element of street safety," said Assemblymember Tony Simone. "Cameras encourage drivers to slow down and to not run a red light, preventing crashes and keeping people safe, both inside the car and outside of it. This program has been improving safety for drivers and pedestrians for 30 years, and has saved countless lives. We should be not only continuing the existing program, but expanding it to more locations around New York City, so that no one has to suffer the loss of a family member due to reckless driving."

"Red-light cameras help make New York City safer and the data shows it," said Councilmember Gale A. Brewer. "Albany should renew the Red-Light Program and allow the City to operate at more intersections, full stop."

"The loss of Joel and David has deeply impacted their families, friends, and our entire community. The trend of reckless driving can devastate families and communities in irreparable ways. Red-light cameras are one method that has proven to reduce collisions at intersections," said Councilmember Carmen De La Rosa. "We have also conducted a series of walkthroughs in District 10 and continue to advocate for legislative action that strengthens accountability measures and makes our streets more pedestrian-friendly, and we implore drivers in NYC to move cautiously and be mindful of how a moment of irresponsibility can create a lifetime of pain for so many."

"The red-light camera program has long been necessary and I am glad to see that substantive action is being taken to expand its implementation throughout the city," said Councilmember Eric Dinowitz. "Only one percent of intersections have red-light cameras which only demonstrates the great need for raising the number of these devices. Too many people have been taken from us in counts of reckless and dangerous driving. This program provides sure disincentives against these behaviors, and I am proud to endorse the usage of red-light cameras as a means to significantly lower incident rates and ensure street safety."

"Our family knows the price of a driver running a red light all too well. My niece Madeline Shershen was 17 when she was killed by a driver running a red light in Whitestone in 2018. Maddie was incredible. She was such a sweet, caring young woman and she should be with us today," said Families for Safe Streets member Rita Barravecchio. "New York State must reauthorize and expand the city's red light camera program to ensure that no other family endures what we have every day since our Maddie was taken from us."

"Despite the life-saving benefits of red-light cameras in New York City, Albany only permits them at 1% of our intersections," said Danny Harris, executive director, Transportation Alternatives. "To prevent traffic violence, New York City needs more tools at its disposal. This new data from DOT underscores the need for lawmakers in Albany to pass Senator Gounardes and Assemblymember Dinowitz's legislation to reauthorize and expand New York City's successful red-light camera program."

"Every New Yorker should be safe walking to the subway as much as on the train," said Riders Alliance Policy & Communications Director Danny Pearlstein. "Even while planners redesign our streets to protect pedestrians and others from reckless driving, we also need Albany leaders to expand red-light cameras. Thanks to Commissioner Rodriguez for championing the issue and Senator Gounardes and Assemblymember Dinowitz for their leadership in sponsoring the legislation."

"We're thankful to the Department of Transportation for pushing for the passage of the renewal and expansion of the city's red-light camera program," said Ken Podziba, CEO of Bike New York. "What's most astonishing is that they have to fight to continue employing a proven method of equitable enforcement that saves lives and prevents serious injuries. When it's a matter of life and death, the bureaucrats in Albany shouldn't play politics and simply do the right thing: not only pass these critical bills but allow red-light cameras to be installed at every intersection."

"Red-light camera programs have proven to save the lives of our families and children walking around New York City. Cars are one of the leading killers of children here, and we are in crisis," said Christine Serdjenian Yearwood, founder and CEO, UP-STAND. "We cannot allow this program to expire when we know it works. Our families need this legislation to renew, expand, and improve on our red-light camera programs to change driver behavior and reduce these tragedies."

"If we want people to ditch their fossil-fuel emitting cars we need to make sure our streets are safe," said Alia Soomro, deputy director of NYC policy, New York League of Conservation Voters. "Red light runners not only endanger other drivers, they are a particular menace for pedestrians, bicyclists and other micro-mobility users. We are proud to stand with Commissioner Rodriguez to advocate for the expansion of red-light cameras and tougher enforcement, and we thank Senators Gounardes and Gianaris and Assemblymembers Dinowitz and Magnarelli for carrying this legislation forward in Albany."