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Stop sign camera pilot program proposed

Legislation currently aimed at a few downstate villages could result in traffic cameras on stop signs elsewhere in the state.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele, D-Sag Harbor, recently introduced the Protect our Pedestrians Act (A.10169) in the state Assembly. The bill would amend the state Vehicle and Traffic Law to create owner liability for failure of an operator to comply with stop signs in the villages of Upper Brookville and Flower Hill in Nassau County and East Hampton in Suffolk County.

“By giving these villages the option of setting up stop sign camera demonstration programs, we will be giving our local municipalities an additional tool in protecting the lives of their residents,” Thiele wrote in his legislative justification. “By ensuring that drivers come to a complete stop at these traffic control devices, we not only protect the lives of pedestrians, but also the lives of children as well as bicyclists.”

The system would operate the same way the state’s existing cameras on school buses and in school zones operate, with cameras placed on stop signs in the three villages if the state Legislature approves Thiele’s bill. Fines would be $50.

If the villages decide to take part in the demonstration system they will have to submit an annual report detailing the use of the stop sign photo violation monitoring to state officials that includes the description of the locations where the stop sign photo violations were used, the number of violations on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, the number of fines issued, and the total amount of fines paid, the total amount of revenue realized by the village and expenses incurred by villages in connection with the program.

“One of the major roles that village governments play is protecting the safety of their residents. Traffic safety is critical to quality of life to many Long Islanders,” Thiele wrote in his legislative justification.

“This legislation recognizes that very often villages have noted that many drivers fail to come to a complete stop at stop signs and drive recklessly. This is a tragedy waiting to happen.”

Saddle Rock, a village in Long Island, tried to install stop sign cameras last year as several Long Island villages considered ways to slow traffic in their villages, but it was determined stop sign cameras likely needed state legislative approval since there was no express state authorization to install cameras on stop signs.

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