Red Light Cameras coming to an Intersection Near You

February 25, 2008 109 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The vote to place Red Light Cameras at ten of Jacksonville?s busiest intersection passed through the city council unanimously. The cameras are scheduled to be installed by July of 2008.

City leaders tell us the cameras will not cost the city of Jacksonville anything. They say the camera’s manufacturer will install and maintain the cameras for free, as long as the city gives them a percentage of the red light citations.

Intersections to be equipped with cameras:

  • Beach at Atlantic
  • Beach at San Pablo
  • Beach at Kernan
  • Beach at Southside
  • Beach at University
  • Beach at Saint Johns Bluff
  • Butler Blvd. at 9-A
  • Southside at Baymeadows
  • Blanding at Youngerman Circle
  • Atlantic at Kernan

 Red Light Cameras remain a controversial topic. Numerous studies have shown that accidents actually increase at intersections equipped with these cameras. The problem arises when drivers make sudden stops at yellow lights for fear of recieving a citation, causing them to be struck by the car following them. 

Municipalities and camera manufacturers around the country claim that these cameras improve intersection safety and generate revenue, a clear win-win for everyone involved. Is it that simple though?

The National Motorist Association opposes Red Light Cameras for the following reasons:

Objections Specific to Red-Light Cameras

Cameras do not prevent most intersection accidents.
Intersection accidents are just that, accidents. Motorists do not casually drive through red lights. More likely, they do not see a given traffic light because they are distracted, impaired, or unfamiliar with their surroundings. Even the most flagrant of red-light violators will not drive blithely into a crowded intersection, against the light. Putting cameras on poles and taking pictures will not stop these kinds of accidents.

These devices discourage the synchronization of traffic lights.
When red-light cameras are used to make money for local governments, these governments are unlikely to jeopardize this income source. This includes traffic-light synchronization, which is the elimination of unneeded lights and partial deactivation of other traffic lights during periods of low traffic. When properly done, traffic-light synchronization decreases congestion, pollution, and fuel consumption.

There are better alternatives to cameras.
If intersection controls are properly engineered, installed, and operated, there will be very few red-light violations. From the motorists' perspective, government funds should be used on improving intersections, not on ticket cameras. Even in instances where cameras were shown to decrease certain types of accidents, they increased other accidents. Simple intersection and signal improvements can have lasting positive effects, without negative consequences. Cities can choose to make intersections safer with sound traffic engineering or make money with ticket cameras. Unfortunately, many pick money over safety.

Will Red Light Cameras increase intersection safety? Will the Jacksonville City Council be willing to review the safety results at the targeted intersections to decide whether the program has been effective and should be continued? Time will tell for sure, but be sure to get your prediction in now.