Traffic safety advocates are saying a more diligent approach to red light cameras could have prevented a fatal car crash in the Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood on Wednesday morning that left two pedestrians dead.
The NYPD said a BMW sedan was driving north on Sherman Avenue around 4 a.m. Wednesday when they sped through a red light and collided with a southbound Subaru sedan, which was making a left turn at the intersection on West 207 Street. The Subaru was hurled into two empty parked cars and then onto the nearby sidewalk, where it fatally struck 31-year-old Manhattan resident Joel Adames and 40-year-old Bronx resident David Fernandez, police said.
Five others were injured, police said. The drivers of both cars remained on the scene, and the NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad was investigating the crash.
Street safety advocacy group Transportation Alternatives said the intersection was a hotspot for violent traffic-related accidents, adding that 36 people had been injured there over the last five years, including 12 pedestrians and two cyclists, according to its records. The advocacy group noted there are no red light cameras in the ZIP code where the crash occurred, and that adding more would prevent future accidents like Wednesday’s from occurring.
In New York, state law only allows 1% of signalized intersections in the five boroughs to have red light cameras. That’s a total of 150 cameras citywide, according to the Department of Transportation. A spokesperson for the city Department of Transportation said it was that state law that limits local lawmakers’ ability to operate red light cameras.
“This restriction is deadly, and we demand that Albany legislators lift the limits on the red light camera program to start saving lives.” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris said in a statement addressing the crash. “To reach Vision Zero, we need the Adams administration to redesign streets for safety and for Albany to let us expand additional automated enforcement tools.”
According to a Transportation Alternatives study, New York City's red light camera program has reduced injuries from T-bone crashes by 58%.
The fatal crash comes just days after Mayor Eric Adams announced that speed cameras are officially operating 24/7. Before Monday, the city’s 2,000 speed cameras, which are located at 750 school zones, were only operational between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The move was significant, Harris said, but not enough.
“Walking on the sidewalk should not be a death sentence, yet, today, like too many other days in this city, it was,” Harris said. “We send our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the two people killed in the preventable crash uptown this morning.”