“Stop Means Stop”: Vacca Gives Thumbs-Up to Busy Red Light Cameras

We’ll overlook the number of contortions performed by the Daily News to make today’s report on the success of red light cameras look like a “he said she said” story. It’s simply not a surprise when the city press corps assigns comparable weight to the wishes of motorists to break the law with impunity and the right of pedestrians and cyclists — and, in this case, other drivers — to reach their destinations in one piece.

So while the News and other outlets (the story made the AP wire) howl over $52 million in fines issued to “unsuspecting motorists” for running red lights in 2010, here’s the real news: a lot of drivers are running red lights. The fact that, in the course of a year, just 150 cameras caught a reported 1,053,268 drivers potentially putting lives at risk is a pretty good sign that the actual amount of red-light running is off the charts. (Is Komanoff in the house?) One can’t also help but conclude that the 2010 figures represent about 1,053,268 drivers who, if not for the cameras, would have gotten away with it.

But that’s not much of a surprise either. What jumped out at us, again, is the show of support for red light cameras from James Vacca. An avowed skeptic of other traffic-taming infrastructure and promoter of unfettered parking access, the City Council transportation committee chair has remained consistent in his condemnation of reckless driving. Said Vacca to the News:

“People who run red lights can kill people. These cameras go a long way towards making this a safer city.”

“I hope we get to the point where these cameras do not raise revenue and there is compliance with red lights,” he said. “Stop means stop.”

Granted, this is no big lift, and it’s exactly what the council transportation chair should be saying. But with more red light cameras, along with speed cameras, on the agenda, Vacca’s ongoing vocal support could be a big help in prodding Albany to allow the city to deploy additional life-saving, and popular, traffic tech.