Red light cameras in Roswell fail to stop crashes

8:46 PM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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Red light camera.

ROSWELL, Ga. -- A discussion on whether to add more red light cameras, has sparked a debate on whether the city should even keep the ones they've got. The cameras have made $1.6 million for the city since they were installed. Still, Transportation Director Steven Acenbrak says they should go.

"The data would tell you they were not very effective, from a crash standpoint," said Acenbrak. He says there continue to be just as many red light runners now, as before the cameras were installed.

The city has seen a drop in citations, however. In 2008, Roswell made more than $853,000 on citations. The past two years it lost $26,000, after paying program expenses. The city says it had to take down the cameras for construction, significantly reducing revenue. But even the year before, in 2010, it only brought in $100,000 from violators.

"Before we had the cameras we had on order about 300 violations a day. And after the red light running cameras, it went to about 33 a day. So about a tenfold reduction in actual violators," said Acenbrak.

The city's contract with the vendor that collects the violation fees ends in December, as do the state permits needed to keep the cameras running. They're not alone.

The permits for nearly two dozen red light cameras in eight other metro cities are up for renewal next month as well. But, Riverdale and Rome say they don't plan to apply. They've already deactivated their cameras, although Riverdale has yet to take them down.

Riverdale police say they were seeing more than a dozen serious accidents at the intersection of state route 85 and Church Street every year. In the first year of their program, they had 11,440 red light violations. But by 2010, police felt driving habits had improved enough to turn the cameras off.

Roswell's city council will vote on the issue later this month. If they decide not to renew the contract, the red light cameras will be deactivated January 1st.

"It just seems like big brother always has his eye on you somewhere making money off of you. It's ridiculous," said Denise Jean, a driver eager to see the cameras go.

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