Monday, April 06, 2009


One of the many jobs of an elected official, is protecting the public from harm. As budgets tighten and personnel diminished, the duty of protection becomes that much more difficult.

Our police officers cant be in every home or parked on every street corner, but there are ways we can help them do their job.

Acc­ording to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 22 percent of all traffic accidents in the United States are caused by drivers running red lights. You can't say you've never had a close encounter with a reckless driver in Kingston.

If you look at New York State statistics, intersection accidents kill some 800 people every year. What's worse is that these numbers have been on a steady rise for the last decade. Cities like Newburgh, Poughkeepsie and Kingston have followed this trend very closely.

You might think you're cautious and limit your driving to daytime hours, but the overwhelming costs associated with car accidents across the state, forces your insurance company to charge a higher rate for everyone.

So here's the reason I bring this up: Several cities in New York have petitioned our state government to provide funding to install Stop-Light Cameras with the intent to decrease the advent of driving through the RED. Yes, there would be ample warning signage.

They are fully automated and collect all of the evidence authorities need to prosecute light-runners. If a camera catches you speeding through the intersection, you can expect a ticket to arrive in your mailbox a month or two later. [with a picture]

Yonkers, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester are first in line. The Assembly has already voted in favor of this pilot program. I want to know how soon after, our Hudson Valley Cities can apply for this funding?

Understand, this tool can also catch those who drive without insurance or unregistered. Oh yes, they could end up pushing rebel drivers to the smaller towns and villages. Good for Kingston, not so good for Woodstock.

Admit it, you are intrigued at the idea of automated law enforcement. Especially with our forces so limited. When's the last time a Kingston officer gave out a speeding ticket? I'll have to ask the chief.

I did have this arguement about over reaching the duties of the camera with some friends, and we decided the prosecution of non-insurance would be limited to Light Runners who were already being processed. This would cut the paperwork down a bit.

As the week goes on, we'll see what the State Senate does with this issue and then I'll follow up with some conversations with Corp. Counsel, our grant writers and our purchasing agent. Who knows, maybe by fall, we could have some bids on the table!


Anonymous said...

A year or two ago I read about a town, I think in Texas, (I wish I could remember the name) that put up traffic light cameras for the stated reason of making the intersections safer. They stopped using the cameras when, because they worked well in getting people to not run red lights, the revenue from the tickets no longer supported the cost of maintaining the cameras.

It is hard to argue against making driving safer, but the small part of me that longs to be a Libertarian has concerns about cameras spying on us.

Joe Bubel said...

I have to agree with you 100%, I love this. There are groups against this, justifying their opposition with the "it's just for revenue" argument. It may be, and it would be hard for me to justify photo cop for speeders on the thruway. However, IMHO, there is no lower form of life, than a driver who runs a red light (or speeds in residential neighborhoods). Red Light runners pose a far greater danger for pedestrians and other drivers than someone going 80 on the thruway.

Anonymous said...

Mike: One has to be cautious as we move towards 1984- and Big Brother-
but NYC has been using this system for years and appears to be gaining additional income. As for speeding here in Kingston, would suggest that the Police again stand by Lucas and Hurley approach from Town of Ulster. Speeding along these corridors have always been rampant. I do recall that they set up speeding sign odometers prior to the last elections. Would also suggest that they enforce current laws regarding cellular phone use. Legislation that would outlaw texting appears to be a duplication
in that cell phone use itself is illegal. Oh well- and for those who continue to say that the Police themselves use cell phones- well there are many instance that information is given out on these lines rather than on their radios.
take care. and this appears to be another reason to get KPA back on the air.
take care.
Shelly Z

Anonymous said...

If the Council refuses to fund your request for speed humps, why would they fund these? Safety has never been their strong point and you're wasting your breath if you think they'll do anything to help calm traffic. Just because you ask for it, consider it DOA. The main office doesn't like you any more.

Anonymous said...

Part of the premise at least for your proposal regarding this is that this will somehow reduce insurance rates. I beg to strongly disagree with that premise.
The insurance industry gets ripped off too much from unscrupulous auto mechanics, body shops, people, that this would only be a drop in the bucket in that regard if anything. I'm all for safety, but then again, what about the guy who speeds through that yield sign regularly, the one who never yields anywhere he is supposed to, the speeders they never pull over on the thruway(and apparently never will)and a thousand other examples?
The real answer here IMHO is a website run by someone honest, who reports license plates and bad behaviors for the benefit of law enforcement and insurance companies. Something up and running like this in every geographic area in the nation would really make a difference.
I guess that suggestion really doesn't require layers upon layers of bureaucracy though, so it is therefore unrealistic????!!!!

Anonymous said...

Traffic Light Cameras penalizes the registered owner of the vehicle-not the actual operator.