Tonawanda News

Opinion

January 3, 2014

OUR VIEW: Proceed with caution on red light cameras

Tonawanda News — Motorists in the City of Tonawanda could soon be facing a longer arm or the law — or at least some version of it — when it comes to traffic violations at three intersections known by city police as the most likely spots for serious accidents.

Though we have our reservations about installing automated red light cameras, it’s our instinct to side with police and city leaders who say public safety will benefit and offer our reserved thumbs up to proceed with caution.

Call it a yellow light, if you will.

The cameras will be installed and maintained by a private company, RedFlex Traffic Systems, Inc., which will take more than $4,000 in fines — or the first 80 or so fines the cameras record — as their fee from each camera installed.

Let’s state for the record we’re not thrilled at the idea of the city pulling $50 out of a resident’s pocket and handing it over to a private company but it’s a better alternative than paying to install and maintain the cameras so we’ll live with it.

We also aren’t huge fans of registered owners getting tickets in the mail when there’s no proof they were actually behind the wheel. 

And drivers deserve an answer on what happens when they’re waiting in an intersection to turn left and the lights turns red first. Before you say it, yes we know it’s technically a traffic violation but it’s common driving practice in this area and motorists aren’t likely to change the habit. Will they get a ticket, as well? 

We hope not.

Reservations aside, there is a bottom-line imperative: The cameras have the effect of slowing down motorists at three intersections where high-impact accidents have the very real potential for serious injuries or fatalities. That’s a good thing. 

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