Revenue from Nassau’s red-light-camera program fell more than 8 percent in 2014 to $34 million, even as the county added cameras to four more intersections, according to a new county report.
Data from Nassau’s Traffic Safety Board also show a 34 percent decrease in accidents involving injuries at the 72 red-light-camera intersections that were operating in 2014, compared with the 12-month period before cameras were installed.
Rear-end collisions fell 39 percent while head-on crashes plummeted 79 percent, the report found.
But while accidents at red-light-camera intersections are down 21 percent overall, the figure rose by 2 percentage points compared with 2013.
Accidents categorized as “other” — when the crash type is not specified on police reports — increased by 9 percent overall while side-impact crashes rose 1 percent, the data shows.
In total, 15 camera intersections, or a total of 20 percent, had an uptick in crashes as compared with the year before the cameras were installed, according to the data. Fifty-four intersections had a decrease in crashes; three stayed the same.
In 2013, only six red-light-camera intersections saw an increase in accidents.
Chris Mistron, Nassau’s traffic safety coordinator, said motorists have become so keenly aware of the cameras — and are driving more slowly through intersections — that even a handful of accidents can cause a spike in the data.
“It’s the law of diminishing returns,” he said. “The primary function of the program is to get motorists to drive safely. And we are seeing the results.”
There have been no reported traffic fatalities at any of the intersections since the program began in 2009, Mistron said.
The report found the program generated 399,739 tickets totaling $33.8 million in fines and fees in 2014. Nearly 98 percent of those tickets have since been paid by motorists, officials said.
In 2013, when the cameras were operating at 68 locations, the program generated 495,865 tickets and $36.8 million in revenue.
Fines are $50 per violation plus a $45 administrative fee. The county legislature increased the fee from $30 last year to raise revenue as county officials struggled to close a budget deficit.
“The drop in revenue is expected as the number of violations issued decrease over time,” said John Marks, executive director of Nassau’s Traffic and Parking Violations Agency.
American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based vendor that operates the red-light-camera system, was paid $8.1 million in 2014 — 38 percent of the $50 fines paid by motorists.
Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) said the camera program amounts to a hidden “tax” on residents.
“I hope the county stops relying on these ‘gotcha’ programs for revenue,” Solages said.
Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) said the cameras have “validity” as a public-safety tool.
“They’ve acted as a deterrent to running traffic lights,” Jacobs said.
The report shows that the most red-light-camera violations occurred around Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City.
The intersection at Old Country Road and Ring Road generated 37,735 tickets in 2014, the most of any location. Quentin Roosevelt Boulevard and Stewart Avenue ranked second with 18,634 tickets.
Suffolk County’s 2014 red-light-camera report, issued April 3, showed its 100 red-light cameras generated 444,008 violations and $33 million in fines and fees. In 2013, Suffolk issued 293,425 tickets and received $17.4 million in revenue.
Crashes involving injuries at Suffolk red-light-camera intersections dipped 4 percent in 2014, while total accidents fell 3 percent, compared with the period before the program began in 2010, while rear-end crashes rose by 42 percent.
The State Legislature authorized 50 camera locations each for Nassau and Suffolk in 2009. In 2012, state lawmakers allowed each county to add 50 sites. Nassau currently has red-light cameras in place at 82 intersections.
The Nassau report shows that 1,085 motorists challenged their red-light-camera violations in court in 2014, winning their cases about 13 percent of the time. State law requires Nassau and Suffolk to complete their annual red-light-camera reports by June 1 each year. Nassau missed the deadline, Mistron said, because of delays in getting data from the State Department of Transportation.