Today: May 29, 2024

Proposed red light cameras to issue traffic tickets


Efforts in Connecticut to legalize the use of red light cameras at intersections to issue tickets to violators have failed in past years, but supporters have recently re-launched their campaign. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and safe street advocates held a press conference at the corner of South Frontage Road and York Street on Jan. 9 to gain the approval of the Connecticut General Assembly.

“Last year there was 5,644 traffic accidents in [New Haven] with eight fatalities,” said Destefano during the press conference. “We are going to keep coming back year after year after year until we get the right that 25 other states give to their cities and towns–nearly 500 cities and towns across the United States–to use technology to support our police and make our streets safe for people other than just in cars, for pedestrians and for bikers.”

As reported in a press release, February marks the start of the state legislative session and the proposed bill is one piece of legislation that will be deliberated and voted on.

According to the Federal Highway Commission as reported in a press release, nationally, red-light running kills 1,000 people and injures 165,000 a year at a cost of $230 billion. Over the last 20 years, on average more than 5,000 pedestrians are killed across the United States in motor vehicle-related accidents.

“Our friends and family don’t need to become another statistic,” said Looney in a press release. “The use of red light cameras at intersections is critical for ensuring the safety of pedestrians and drivers. Knowing that if you run a red light you will receive a ticket in the mail will be a huge incentive for drivers to slow down and think twice about breaking the law. It will free up police resources and save lives.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, “traffic light cameras severely compromise the constitutional right of due process. The owner of a vehicle is ticketed because the camera photographs the license plate but can’t identify the actual driver.”

“The presumption that the owner of the car and the driver are one and the same is often wrong, yet the owner is always ticketed,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut in a press release. “Also, when a police officer pulls someone over, the driver has a chance to explain any extenuating circumstance and the officer may recognize that, for instance, the driver was moving out of the way of an emergency vehicle.”

There are mixed opinions on Southern’s campus from students about whether the proposed bill is a good or bad idea for the community. Sarah Giannamore, junior psychology major, said she thinks the bill will makes drivers more aware of their surroundings.

“I think it’s a good idea because especially coming from Brownell to the crosswalk, there is a stop sign, but cars plow through anyway. And it’s dangerous because they don’t stop for people at crosswalks like they are supposed to,” said Giannamore. “I almost got hit a few times. People are crazy drivers, especially at rush hour, the mornings, the commute to work.”

Elyse Duffy, junior graphic design major, said she agrees with Giannamore that red light cameras should be placed at intersections around schools and campuses, but she also said she sees a need for the cameras downtown.

“The cameras will be good for downtown because there’s more traffic, especially at night,” said Duffy. “There are more pedestrians to look out for.”

One student, Clarence Brown, senior exercise science major, is on both sides for the bill. He said if the legislature wants to go forth with the bill then they should put it in action, but he also said it is another outlet for the City of New Haven to take taxpayers’ dollars.

“Because the mayor of the city already charges outrageous taxes, our streets are terrible, violence is up,” said Brown. If they are going to charge people for tickets, where’s the profit going to go? Because they don’t use it now.”

Lauren Rosetta, junior social work major, said she has no doubt drivers will be more careful if the bill is passed because “no one wants a ticket. Especially how expensive they are now.”

According to Looney, the purpose of the bill is the same as previous years: “to improve driver conduct, save lives and save on police resources.”

We have more people who walk to work and bicycle to work than any other city in the state,” said Looney during the press conference. “There is a significant need to do more than we can to encourage safe driving at major intersections. And there is a strong advocacy in the New Haven community for this legislation.”

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