WEST BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It has been a contentious topic for years and this week lawmakers will decide whether or not to continue the controversial red light camera program.

One of them wants the voters to decide through a public referendum, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.

Should Suffolk County green light its red light camera program? Drivers are divided.

“I think they cause more accidents, personally,” one person said.

Long Island Red-Light Camera

A red-light camera component on Long Island. (Credit: CBS2)

“All about money, 100 percent,” another said.

“They’re good and there should be more of them, because it prevents serious accidents,” another added.

MOREWorthwhile Program Or Significant Money Grab? Study Of Red Light Cameras On Long Island Yields Mixed Results

Suffolk legislators will vote Wednesday to either extend the program another five years, or put the brakes on it. Its course is unclear after a report found a correlation between the 100 cameras and a reduction in fatal and serious injuries, but a 60 percent increase in total crashes at camera locations.

Daniel McCarthy, a fire commissioner, lives steps from one of the cameras.

“People slamming on their brakes, a lot of rear-end accidents. Injuries definitely increased, major injuries, too,” McCarthy said.

FLASHBACK: CBS2 Exclusive: Suffolk Lawmakers Claim Red-Light Cameras, Short Yellow Lights Trap Drivers

Legislator Rob Trotta said he thinks it ought to be up to the public to decide. He is proposing a referendum on the November ballot.

“It’s an increase of accidents of 60 percent. If that was rape or robbery or murder people would be in an uproar,” Trotta said.

He said the vast majority of tickets are just a “gotcha” on a technicality that costs drivers dearly.

“If someone runs a red light, that’s one thing, but most of the tickets are you don’t make a complete stop at a right turn,” one resident said.

However, the Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone supports the program extension, agreeing with “…the research, evidence, and national safety experts that show red light cameras are an effective tool to enhance public safety and save lies.”

If cameras stay, critics say at least re-evaluate the locations.

“We are standing right in front of what we call ‘Scam Alley.’ There is five red light cameras in a 1.2-mile stretch,” Legislator Kevin McCarthy said.

Whether or not you think it’s a money grab, the program does make money for the county — a projected $30 million in 2020 that would go away if the program is allowed to expire, Gusoff reported.

The Suffolk Legislature will vote on Wednesday the fate of the red light camera program and the proposed referendum. The public will have the opportunity to speak.


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