Community Board 8’s Transportation Committee would like the city to place countdown timers on traffic signals or pedestrian crossing signs where red light cameras are located in its district because, members said, drivers seeking to avoid traffic tickets cause crashes.
“It’s a device that would increase motorist safety and prevent accidents,” said Committee Chairman Jesse Rosenbaum. “It’s something to think about.”
According to the committee, which met last Thursday, drivers who are familiar with where the cameras are located stop short when the light turns yellow to avoid getting nabbed and often cause other drivers to slam into them.
“I notice a red light camera on Queens Boulevard and Ascan. So if I see the walk- don’t walk sign is flashing and I know the light is going to turn yellow, I’m going to stop,” member Mark Lefkof said. “The guy behind me doesn’t know and I get rear ended.”
Lefkof asked Department of Transportation Borough Planner Feliz Okolo if the agency could do a safety study of corners with cameras in District 8 and he agreed to discuss the idea with other DOT officials.
“But the signal engineers would have to look into it because there are potential ramifications as to why it’s not being done,” Okolo said of installing timers. He also said if the board could highlight where accidents occur it would provide impetus for further examination. But the agency said no Wednesday.
Scott Gastel, a spokesman for the DOT, said it is not something that currently exists or that the agency is considering.
Lefkof and Rosenbaum said they believe the countdown clocks haven’t already been installed because the red light cameras generate a lot of money in fines.
“You have the one on the westbound service road of the Long Island Expressway by Willets Point Boulevard ... some guy got a ticket and put four bullet holes into the back of it,” Lefkof said.
Okolo noted that there are 100 cameras throughout the city, with locations where the devices are actively being rotated, a statement the committee found hard to believe.
“So sometimes you have an empty box there?” Lefkof asked. “I’m not talking about the dummy ones that they put up that you could tell it’s a dummy. I’m talking about the one that are really fixed with the locks on the back of them.”
Okolo asked if the committee could provide an example of a countdown clock location in the city and Lefkof noted one on a pedestrian crossing sign at the corner of Queens Boulevard and Continental / 71st Avenue.