Lawmaker Wants To Get Rid Of Red Light Cameras

DENVER (CBS4) – A Republican lawmaker hopes to eliminate cameras that catch people running red lights.

State Sen. Scott Renfroe says the cameras are only there to make cities money, but some argue they’re a safety tool and it should be left to the cities to decide.

“I think safety ought to be our number one concern and I don’t think red light cameras do that. I think it’s more a revenue generator,” Renfroe said.

Renfroe just introduced a bill to eliminate them.

“There are other ways that we can improve safety at intersections rather than red light cameras,” he said.

Instead of the cameras he wants to extend the timing of yellow lights and have them all time out the same.

Mark Radtke with the Colorado Municipal League opposes the bill. He says the cameras shouldn’t be up to state legislators.

“This is really a safety community issue, so its best left to city councils to make that decision,” Radtke said.

Senate Bill 50 also questions whether photo radar vans are effective.

“I don’t know if they really deter people from speeding,” Renfroe said.

The only cameras the bill wouldn’t touch would be on toll roads and highways.

Under state law the maximum fine for running a red light on camera is $75. The maximum for speeding is $40 and no points against a license.

It’s true they generate money, but Radtke says more so the cameras work as a second set of eyes for law enforcement.

“It’s really to get everyone to comply. There wouldn’t be any tickets if everyone complied with the law,” Radtke said.

  • Henry

    I just read, in Newsday, a firefighter saying that the cameras (indirectly) block emergency vehicles – because drivers stopped at a camera intersection are afraid to move out of the way! Just one of the many side effects of the cameras.

    Other side effects: Increased rearenders, local money sent to Az, Oz or New York (Goldman-Sachs) where it won’t come back, tourists and shoppers driven away, and a false expectation of safety – something that is a real liability for those who venture into the real world.

    The main reason to not install red light cameras is that they don’t stop the bad accidents, because they can’t stop the real late runners. (If cameras prevented the bad accidents, ATS wouldn’t be able to come up with the videos they’ve been sending around recently, of major accidents. Which happened at ATS-enforced intersections! )

    Want actual safety, without the side effects?

    To decrease car-pedestrian accidents, train your kids (and grandma) not to step into the street just ‘cuz the walk sign came on. Tell them: Look BOTH ways, and do not step out unless you have made eye contact!!!

    To cut nuisance running (a fraction of a second late), lengthen the yellows. This has a huge % effect, the effect is permanent, and it can be done cheaply, thus all over town.

    The dangerous real late (multiple seconds) runs occur when someone is lost, distracted or impaired. The mere presence of a camera won’t stop these runs, because the runner won’t know (a visitor) or won’t remember (a distracted or impaired “local”) that there’s a camera up ahead, and in any case isn’t doing it on purpose. The way to reduce these rare but very dangerous real late runs is to improve the visual cues that say, “Intersection ahead.” Florida’s DOT found that better pavement markings near intersections (plain old paint) cut running by up to 74% without increasing rearenders. Also, make the signal lights bigger in diameter, add backboards, and place the poles on the NEAR side of the intersection. Put brighter bulbs in the street lights at intersections. Put up lighted name signs for the cross streets.

    The fact that the real world is not a nanny state like here means that we need to continue to drive, and walk, defensively. Who needs cameras and their side effects?

  • Jason

    Henry, while your reasoning seems sound, the numbers don’t really back it up.

    It is true that rear end crashes go up. According to a study by the Federal Highway Administration, rear end crashes increased 15%. But right angle (“t-bone”) crashes decreased 25%. Due to rear end crashes causing less damage and less injury, the overall impact in lives saved and money saved was well worth it. They studied the monetary impact and loss of life; it was much cheaper and safer, even if that seems counter intuitive.

    As for the firefighter, that sounds anecdotal. I’m sure it happened. I don’t quite believe it’s very common. I’ve no numbers to back this up, but I doubt either does Newsday.

    I see your numbers from Florida DOT. I didn’t read their study but I trust you represented it accurately. Why not do both better pavement markings and red light cameras? It’s not an either/or decision.

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