MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – New Rochelle and Mount Vernon motorists are going to have to exercise a little more caution when approaching yellow lights in their cities after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to install red light traffic cameras at intersections.
The legislation, which was sponsored by State Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who represents Mount Vernon, was among 92 pieces of legislation that were signed into law by Cuomo last week after being passed by state Legislature earlier this year.
Many communities throughout the state and the U.S. have been utilizing red light cameras for years, including Yonkers and municipalities on Long Island and upstate. By issuing a $50 fine for each red light offense, officials hope that it will limit red light running accidents, which typically are among the worst due to the speed and angle of collisions.
In all, Mount Vernon can install cameras at up to 20 intersections, while New Rochelle can install as many as a dozen, most of which will likely be on North Avenue and Main Street. Red light cameras can generate around $1 million in revenue each year.
“The new law will dramatically increase the safety of our pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,” Hassell-Thompson said. “Those who recklessly run red lights will no longer be tolerated. By creating awareness, people will modify their driving behavior and everyone will be safer.”
The red light program will run through 2019, when it will have to be approved again if it is to continue. In Mount Vernon, drivers were ambivalent when asked if they believed the red light cameras would influence their driving in any way.
“I think most people are stopping at red lights, and it’s really a rare occasion when you have to gun it through a yellow (light), and even that is usually because you get caught in between braking and hitting the gas,” Marcus Barnes said. “I don’t think it’s going to change the way I drive at all.”
Will Holmes, a Mount Vernon resident, had a different view, and argued that it’s a cash grab for the city.
“It’s just like everything else in Mount Vernon, it’s about the money,” he said. “More money, more corruption. What else is new.”