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Accidents rise at Roosevelt Field entrance

This is the red light camera that overlooks

This is the red light camera that overlooks the turning lane at the intersection of Old Country Road and Ring Road, the entrance to Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, (Oct. 13, 2011) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Nassau County's new report on its red light camera program confers two distinctions on the entrance to Roosevelt Field mall in East Garden City.

It's the only intersection with cameras in the county where accidents increased after the cameras were installed and also the location that generates the most red light camera citations -- by far.

Roosevelt Field's main entrance is at Old Country Road and the mall's Ring Road. Cameras were placed there in November 2009. In the 12 months after they began operating, total crashes rose 86 percent over the prior year period, going from 49 to 91.

Rear-end collisions grew 94 percent, from 31 to 60, side-impacts increased by 67 percent, from 15 to 25 and head-on strikes doubled, from 3 to 6.

Nassau traffic safety educator Chris Mistron said a sign at the intersection for those making a right turn into the mall from eastbound Old Country may have led some drivers to think they could not turn right on red. The sign, which was erected shortly before the cameras were installed, was changed to tell drivers they could turn right on red after stopping and the frequency of rear-end strikes has dropped, he said.

When it comes to the side-impact and head-on collisions, Mistron is unsure why they rose. "It's something that we are going to monitor," he said. "It's perplexing."

Cameras at the location produced 34,709 tickets in 2010 -- nearly 100 a day -- dwarfing the number generated at all other county intersections with cameras. At $50 a ticket, that works out to $1.7 million in potential collections from that one spot.

Most violations, 73 percent, were for right-turn violations, such as not stopping completely before turning. Program-wide in 2010, 37 percent of tickets were for right-turn violations.

"You have to stop and then you can proceed," Mistron said. "We are looking for the cessation of movement."

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