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Red light cameras may come to Albany

ALBANYRed light cameras could soon be coming to an intersection near you.  The City of Albany is considering installing up to 20 cameras at dangerous intersections downtown to try and nab drivers that break the law.  City leaders first need approval from the state legislature to consider moving forward with the plan but the wheels have been put in motion.  State Assemblywoman Patrica Fahy expects the approval could happen before the end of the legislative session.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and the Common Council are working with the Albany Police Department to identify intersections that are congested and tend to have the most accidents.  Theyll likely then use that list to determine where to place the cameras if approved.  The cameras would only take a picture of the license plate as the car passes through the intersection after a light turns red, no images are taken of the driver or passengers.  The $50 ticket would be mailed to the registered driver of the car.  If unpaid, the fee could go up by $25.  The ticket does not carry with it any points on a drivers license. 

If you want to fight it, you certainly have every right to and at that point it's going to be your word, I'd say against the officer but there's no officer in that sense so you'd have to have some type of alibi, says Derrick Hogan, a defense attorney at Tully Rinckey.  Even though the ticket is not considered a moving violation, you wont want to just ignore it, your car could get booted at some point or towed, or, if you don't pay fines by a certain amount of time, your drivers license could be suspended, Hogan adds. 

There is no question that at certain times of the day, downtown Albany is downright dangerous.  I drive around this city all day and people are constantly running red lights, says Ken Drew who works in downtown Albany, Riley Irving, a college student who lives downtown has also seen some near-misses, when I drive, I see people do it (run red-lights) a lot of times do it when its yellow and they think they're going to make it and they dont, he says

Bigger upstate cities, New York City and a few downstate counties already have red-light cameras, other cities, it's been a mixed reaction but what we see in the research is that initially there is a jump, in terms of the number of tickets issued but then you begin to change behaviors and then there's a dramatic drop-off, Fahy says and thats why the city would likely choose portable cameras that can be moved to different intersections.  I think it's an excellent idea because I'm from New York City and it really does slow people down, especially if I'm walking around and I have my baby with me, it makes people think twice, says Vic Colon who lives and walks downtown. 

As for any upfront costs of installing the cameras, normally the companies who make the technology, run the program for the city, maintain the cameras, handling the billing and collection and then share the money with the city. 

If and when the state gives approval the ultimate decision about whether the cameras will be put up and where will be up to the Mayor and the Common Council. 
 
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