At the Aug. 2 Lower Providence Board of Supervisors meeting, the board invited David Samuel, a regional sales manager with Redflex Traffic Systems, to make a presentation on what it could mean for the township to install Red Light traffic enforcement cameras.
Samuel first explained that half of the states in the U.S. currently have municipalities that use Red Light cameras.
He said that it’s up to the states to consider penalties for motorists caught in violation of driving through a red light. Such penalties include Virginia’s $50 fine with no points on the driver’s license; while, Samuel added, California’s penelty has a $500 fine with at least three-points on the license.
In Pennsylvania, the penalty starts at $100 statewide with no insurance penalty.
According to a montgomerynews.com article, this subject was also discussed at a July township meeting. At that meeting, the township board of supervisors gave initial reactions to Gov. Tom Corbett’s passing of House Bill 254 on July 2. This law allows municipalities exceeding 20,000 residents and has an accredited police force, to install the red light cameras.
Traffic Study Needed
Samuel said that a study is necessary to see if a municipality even needs a red light traffic enforcement system.
“We could say, you don’t have a red-light running problem in your city,” Samuel told the board. “That would be unusual, but that could be.”
For the study, Samuel said a camcorder in a weatherproof box, fastened to a tall structure, such as a telephone poll, would be in place at an intersection for a 12-hour period.
His company, which is based in Phoenix, AZ, would analyze the footage, from which Samuel will present back to the board the findings and recommendations.
He said that the data could prove that motorists run red lights or make illegal turns on chosen intersections, or worse.
“Obviously, you know when there’s a crash,” Samuel said. “But, we want to preempt that.”
According to Samuel, should Lower Providence decide to use Redflex Traffic Systems services and install the red light cameras, the operation would be at no cost to the municipality.
Samuel explained that the red light camera system would be funded through the violators. Furthermore, the company has a rollover plan, should violators not meet the operating costs for a particular month, the costs would then be incorporated for the following month. If a negative balance is left at the end of the year, Samuel said that the balance would be wiped out.
He did point out that the significant cost is related to police officer’s expenses in using the system.
According to Samuel, captured footage from the still cameras are reviewed by company technicians, and relayed to the local law enforcement, if a violation has occurred.
He said that it’s at the officer’s discretion as to whether or not a fine will be sent in the mail.
Arlene Brown, who is the wife of chairperson of the Board of Supervisors Richard Brown; asked if the township could use the mailed traffic violations as a way to raise money.
Samuel responded that the system is not designed to make money, but rather for safety.
“We want this to be public education,” Samuel said. “We don’t want this to be an ambush.”
He further explained that the system would work as a force multiplier for law enforcement, helping to issue violations, just as if the law enforcement agent were witnessing it first hand.
Also, Samuel explained that once the vendor and police officer fees are paid through the violations, the balance goes into a fund kept by PennDOT. In return, he said, PennDOT is likely to prioritize grants for certain PennDOT services, such as roadway construction for the municipality.
How the Camera Works and the Halo System
According to Samuel, the actual camera doesn’t turn on until the light turns red. Another feature would be the Halo System, which gauges a vehicles speed in relation to its distance from the traffic light. If it’s impossible for the vehicle to stop prior to the light change, the system actually holds the green light for a couple of seconds, allowing the car to pass safely.
“We call it ‘Intelligent Collision Preemption,'” Samuel said. “And, they get the ticket.”
A member of the audience questioned whether or not the red light cameras will increase the number of rear-end collisions, due to some motorist attempt at avoiding a violation.
Samuel admitted that such an increase is likely. However, he also cites International Highway Safety statistics, stating that the number of “T-Bone” crashes, which have a higher fatality rate, decreases.
The township then showed a news video, demonstrating the devastation that has occurred, due to motorists running red lights. [See above media gallery for example]
Where to Put the Cameras?
Nancy McFarland, chairperson of the township’s Zoning Hearing Board, suggested that one of the potential intersections for the study, and ultimately red light camera placement, should be Trooper and Egypt roads. Samuel said typically the initial study involves four intersections.
Lower Providence Township Manager Richard Gestrich suggested that six intersections should be studied. He hinted that one such section of interest might be located at a Lower Providence and West Norriton intersection.
The board voted unanimously to proceed with the red light camera studies. Lower Providence Police Department will now compile a traffic data list of intersections that would qualify for the red-light camera study.
Where are the intersections in Lower Providence that you’d like to see a Red Light Camera? Comment below!