HUGUENOT — A local assemblyman called for 4-second long yellow lights to cut down on the city's red light camera "traps."
Assemblyman Ron Castorina, Jr., announced his support of a bill Friday to require all yellow lights across the state to last a standard four seconds, which aims to stop some lights at intersections with red light cameras being timed shorter than others to unfairly ticket drivers.
"That's not a camera, that's a cash register for the City of New York," said Castorina. "Motorists need some reliability and to reasonably expect to know how long it's going to take to get through the intersection in a safe manner without having to worry about getting fined."
Intersections with the cameras had the same yellow light durations as others, between three to five seconds depending on the speed limit, according to city regulations.
Castorina said that increasing and standardizing the yellow light time the bill — which will be introduced by Long Island Assemblyman Dean Murray in January — will also make it safer for drivers by cutting down on people stopping short at intersections because they don't know how long they have to cross.
"They can know whether they should hit their brakes, whether they should accelerate slightly," Castorina said. "Those are the issues that are frankly a concern requiring safety."
Currently, the state Department of Transportation requires that all yellow lights be timed between three to six seconds long, depending on the street's traffic pattern, and counties get to decide the duration on their roads, said spokeswoman Carol Breen.
In the city, yellow lights on streets with speed limits of 30 mph or lower last three seconds long, 35 to 40 mph intersections four seconds long and those more than 40 mph last five seconds long, city DOT spokesman Jose Bayona said.
At all intersections, red lights last at least two seconds, he added.
Castorina cited a 2012 study by AAA that found intersections with red light cameras had shortened yellow light times, some as low as 2.53 seconds, and said it turned the cameras into a revenue grab by the city.
"When you are reducing the amount of time for a yellow light merely where there's an intersection with a camera it's being done for a particular purpose," Castorina said. "It's a way for municipalities to make money and it's not fair."
The DOT spokesman said streets with the cameras aren't timed any differently and since the program started, the average number of violations issued for people running lights at the cameras dropped by 75 percent.