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New York drivers are still running red lights

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

For years, pedestrian safety advocates have been raising the alarm about drivers running red lights on New York City streets. Unfortunately, research shows the problem may be getting worse.

Alarming statistics

The American Automobile Association looked at data for the year 2017 and found that 939 people nationwide had died that year in accidents that involved drivers running a red light. As we noted in this blog several years ago, the AAA found this number marked a 10-year high for such fatalities. About a third of the people killed in these accidents were the red-light-running drivers themselves. The majority were pedestrians, bicyclists or drivers and occupants of other vehicles.

More recent reports show the problem isn’t getting any better in New York City. According to the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, in 2021 the city had its highest number of traffic deaths in eight years. While data is not finalized, there are indications that 2022 and 2023 might have been even worse.

Many of these fatalities involved drivers who ran red lights. In fact, in 2021, Transportation Alternatives said the city recorded more red light violations than it had in several years.

Limits on intersection cameras

Intersection cameras represent one tool that the city government could be using to combat this safety hazard. These cameras are designed to spot cars that run red lights, capturing their license plate numbers. Armed with this information, the city can then send tickets by mail to the drivers, fining them for traffic violations that would otherwise go unpunished.

Intersection cameras are often unpopular with the public, but studies show that they improve traffic safety. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, intersection cameras can reduce red-light violations by as much as 40%. According to the IIHS, intersection camera programs can reduce fatalities in red-light-running accidents by 21%.

Still, because many people view these cameras as merely a way for cities to make money by imposing fines, there is political pressure to limit their use. Lawmakers in Albany have gone so far as to require the city to turn off cameras for eight hours at night and four 48 hours on weekends.

This limitation on the cameras may make some drivers happy, but Transportation Alternatives says it’s making city streets more dangerous. The group looked at data involving fatal accidents in zones that are covered by intersection cameras and found that 40% of the people killed were struck by cars during the hours when the state required the cameras to be turned off.

Advocates are calling for Albany to allow New York City greater control over its own traffic safety measures.


There is another aspect of intersection cameras that sometimes gets overlooked: Still images and moving video from these cameras can sometimes be used as evidence in personal injury lawsuits. The injured can speak to experienced professionals about how camera evidence may help them as they fight for compensation after they have been injured due to a red-light running driver’s negligence.


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