Use cameras to catch red-light violators
The Legislature is considering a proposal to let counties install cameras at intersections.
PUBLIC outrage about a flawed program to catch speeding cars on camera five years ago has caused state legislators to be camera-shy. Part of that program called for eventual placement of cameras atop traffic lights at intersections to catch cars running red lights, but the entire program came crashing down before it could be implemented. The red-light program should be restored.
The "Talivan" operation was disastrous because it was conducted by a private company that was motivated to nab as many speeders as possible because it received a commission for each ticket issued. A proposal in the current legislation would authorize counties, not private companies, to run the red-light program.
More than 150 communities in 21 states and the District of Columbia, including eight of the nation's 10 largest cities, now have red-light cameras. A 2005 study by the Federal Highway Administration found that installation of cameras at red-light intersections resulted in a 25 percent decrease in crashes.
Researchers reported in January that lengthening the yellow-light sequence reduced signal violations by 36 percent and installation of cameras reduced violations by 96 percent at two Philadelphia intersections. Other studies have shown that red-light cameras reduced violations by 20 percent to 87 percent.
The red-light proposal is attached to a bill that provides funding for pedestrian safety initiatives. The red-light proposal may be moved to the state budget bill to protect the less controversial pedestrian safeguards. By whatever legislative vehicle, the measure should be enacted.
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