October 6, 2008 By Jim McKay
Red light camera programs have garnered much negative publicity in recent years but some jurisdictions are sold on them; they're deploying red light camera programs -- and even speed cameras -- to improve public safety and put extra money in city coffers.
Studies of camera systems point to mixed results nationally. But some jurisdictions have concluded after trial runs that the programs work, claiming the camera systems reduce the number and severity of traffic accidents and produce revenue as a byproduct.
Seattle plans to have 30 cameras working citywide by the end of this year after a successful pilot program convinced officials of their value.
In Knoxville, Tenn., 15 intersections were outfitted with red light cameras in 2007 and officials there say the cameras reduced crashes by 18 percent. The city's traffic deaths decreased from 36 in 2006 to 22 in 2007, and the cameras generated an extra $955,013 for the city's general fund.
Portland, Ore., expanded its red light camera arsenal after four years of fewer accidents and increased revenue as a result of the program. The city's net revenue for the four-year period was $295,000, even as the number of red-light violations dropped by 1.75 per hour and the number of injuries by as much as 30 percent.
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