Committee weighs potential impact of red light camera expansion

Drivers in Pennsylvania could face $100 fines if they fail to beat a yellow light, as lawmakers consider bringing red light cameras to more than a dozen cities. “The objective should be to focus on slowing motorists down or to stop them from running red lights in the first place in order to prevent crashes from occurring and pedestrians from being struck,” said Ron Kosh, vice president for AAA Mid-Atlantic, which advocates for drivers and greater traffic safety. Last year, red light runners accounted for 57,000 crashes, or 25 percent, of all traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Traffic light, off-ramp from Rte. US-422 East ...

Image by Nathan Rein via Flickr

Kosh said AAA believes red light camera systems can improve the safety of roads, but they should not replace properly engineered intersections with well-timed traffic signals. The law that allows red light cameras in Philadelphia is set to expire at the end of this year. In addition to extending the legality of those cameras until 2017, the bill will allow Pittsburgh and Scranton as well as smaller cities with a full-time police force and a population of more than 18,000 to install the cameras.

Opponents of the automatic camera systems argued that better traffic engineering and the use of longer timed yellow lights would have the same impact on motorist safety without hitting drivers in the wallets. Philadelphia is the only city that uses red light cameras, after the state approved a pilot program for the city in 2002. All revenue from the cameras is split equally between the city and state governments and must be used to increase traffic safety by building sidewalks and crosswalks as well as improving visibility at difficult intersections. Under the legislation expanding the use of the cameras, the same guidelines would be followed for the revenue. The Philadelphia cameras have generated a total of $8.4 million since 2002. The purpose of red light cameras is to catch irresponsible drivers in the act of intentionally running a red light and not to generate revenue for city or state government. For more information check out the full article at dailylocal.com or click here.

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