Traffic Law Violators Beware! Hidden Cameras are Watching…

Fordham Community Gets Stung by Red Light Program


Published: September 27, 2007

When Liam Cline, FCLC ’09, checked his mail on his 20th birthday, the last thing he expected was a ticket from the New York City Department of Finance for a traffic violation he didn’t even remember committing.

“I was driving to a Modest Mouse concert, and apparently, I ran a red light [on Cross Bay Boulevard in Queens]. I didn’t even realize that I had done anything wrong,” he said.

New York City’s Red Light Camera Monitoring Program was introduced in 1994, but has emerged in full force as of late, reminding countless members of the Fordham community that traffic signals are not a force to be reckoned with.

As more and more students (and faculty!) fall victim to the hidden flash of the red light cams, questions pertaining to the purpose and whereabouts of the cameras have begun swirling around campus.

When the program was first introduced, “There were only eight cameras throughout the city,” Manuel Rodriguez, supervisor of the Red Light Camera Monitoring Program, said.

According to Rodriguez, there are currently 100 active cameras throughout the city and 200 dummy cameras. “The active cameras have a flash unit on top,” Rodriguez said. “The purpose of the dummies is to deter people from running red lights because they believe the camera is authentic.”

Despite the fact that the active cameras are outnumbered by the dummies, they still seem to be serving their purpose quite efficiently. “We issued about 300,000 violations last year,” Rodriguez said.

Lately, the Fordham community seems to constitute an ever-increasing number of this estimate.

Fordham security guard Leon Yhap had a similar experience after he received a ticket in the mail for unknowingly running a red light on Linden Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Brooklyn. “I was mad about the ticket at first, but I understand why the cameras are there,” Yhap said. “I believe they act as a deterrent.”

Cline, however, does not share the same positive sentiment. “I feel violated by these cameras,” he said.

The Red Light Camera Monitoring Program has even gone so far as to affect members of the NYPD. Upon a brief visit to the Midtown North Precinct, I discovered a number of young officers lamenting their latest tickets. It is no wonder they are as unhappy as regular citizens who are often forced to pay aggravating fees to the city.

“Right now the penalty is $50,” Rodriguez said. “If the violator fails to pay within 30 days, the penalty rises to $75.”

While this program can inevitably cause extreme annoyance, the ultimate goal is to help the community. “The purpose of Red Light is to reduce fatalities,” Rodriguez said.

As result, the tickets have surely encouraged student and faculty drivers to keep a closer eye on traffic signals. “I am looking out for cameras now on the routes that I usually drive on,” Yhap said.

Judging by the rate at which the Fordham community has been receiving tickets from cameras elsewhere in the city, the city’s message is being heard loud and clear: stop on red, or pay the price.