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City may ditch all red light cameras
by Joan Durbin
October 31, 2012 12:14 PM | 3891 views | 4 4 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Roswell Transportation Director Steve Acenbrak had some eye-opening news for city council members last week. The cameras at two Roswell intersections that record license plate numbers of drivers running red lights have made no appreciable difference in the accident rates there.

In the 25 months prior to installing the red light cameras on Ga. Hwy 9 at Holcomb Bridge and Mansell roads, there were three crashes caused by red light running, Acenbrak said.

In the 22 months following the installation, there were also three crashes related to running the light..

“So there really is no change,” said Councilman Jerry Orlans.

“That’s what the data is going to tell you,” Acenbrak agreed.

The cameras were installed in 2006. “I thought we’d been told a number of times since then that this operation had led to a decrease in accidents,” said Councilman Kent Igleheart.

“I think what we were told was that the number of people running red lights had gone down significantly,” Mayor Jere Wood said.

The data was revealed when council members met with the transportation committee last week to discuss whether more cameras should be added at other intersections across the city.

But establishing the need for more cameras could be just as dicey as proving they have much effect on reducing accidents.

Even at six city intersections that have recorded the most crashes, “the subset of red light running crashes to the number of other accident reasons is very small,” Acenbrak said.

Wood recommended that no more cameras be installed and got a general consensus.

Told that the Georgia Department of Transportation had changed the standards required to approve cameras and that the city might not be able to prove a need for the existing cameras, council members also expressed a desire to terminate their use.

Should this happen, revenue from light-running citations will disappear from city coffers. It reached an all time high in 2008, when Roswell netted $835,253 for the year. That figure dropped to $630,795 the following year and fell to $100,463 in 2010.

In the past two years the city actually finished in the hole after paying the vendor who handles the collections. The cameras weren’t in use for much of that time due to construction at the Holcomb Bridge Road/Ga. Hwy 9 intersection, according to Roswell Communications Manager Julie Brechbill.

Council members have always maintained that the cameras were there solely to improve safety at the two intersections. That’s why some say the data presented last week may signal the cameras’ doom.

“I’m stunned, but if the numbers don’t work, it’s never been about the revenue side,” Igleheart said.

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