More Red Light Cameras on the Way

Whether you think they’re big brother in operation, or the greatest thing out there for safety, Portland will soon have more red light cameras:

CITY OF PORTLAND OFFICE OF TRANSPORTATION
MEDIA ADVISORY
For Immediate Release
May 31, 2007
Contact: Cheryl E. Kuck
Phone: (503) 823-5552 or (503) 823-5909 cell
Email: cherylemma.kuck@pdxtrans.org

CITY TO INSTALL RED LIGHT CAMERAS AT SIX ADDITIONAL LOCATIONS

(PORTLAND, OR) – The Portland Office of Transportation will request that Portland City Council on June 6, 2007, will approve the installation of six additional red light cameras at selected intersections in the city, with five on the city’s east side. The cameras, authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 1999, capture vehicles and their drivers running red lights and are meant to reduce crashes caused by this dangerous and illegal behavior.

Below is a list of the six intersections to receive the cameras. Each has a history of high numbers of crashes caused by red light running in the last four years.

• SW 4th at Jefferson – 29 red light crashes
• SE Stark at 99th – 19 red light crashes
• SE Stark at 102nd – 44 red light crashes
• SE Foster at 96th – 53 red light crashes
• NE Broadway at Vancouver – 28 red light crashes
• SE Washington at 103rd – 35 red light crashes

Traffic specialists say that when red light violations occur, they most often result in an angle or turning collision. These broadside collisions, also known as right-angle or T-bone collisions, are especially dangerous because the sides are the most vulnerable areas of cars.

“The most serious crashes that occur at intersections are caused by someone running a red light,” said Sergeant Dan Costello of the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division. In Portland, turning and angle crashes are 2.5 times more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities than rear-end crashes. “Adding six more cameras will further decrease these types of crashes,” says Costello.

There are currently six red light cameras operating at five intersections in Portland, enforcing the entering traffic as follows:

• E Burnside at Grand Avenue, northbound approach
• NE Sandy Blvd at 39th Avenue, westbound approach
• NE Sandy Blvd at 39th Avenue, northbound approach
• SE Grand Avenue at Madison Street, northbound approach
• W Burnside at 19th Avenue, eastbound approach
• NE Broadway at Grand Avenue, westbound approach

Studies show that Portland’s red light camera program has reduced red light running at the existing five camera intersections and the injuries and fatalities that red light running causes.
“No matter how pressed for time you are, please stop for a red light,” says City Commissioner Sam Adams. “Gambling on saving a minute or two by running a red light could kill or seriously injure you or someone else. Red light running has very serious consequences.”

The six new cameras will be installed by the end of August, with three going in by the end of June (4th/Jefferson, 99th/Stark, 102nd/Stark). Signage will be posted to alert drivers to the cameras.

DATA AND BACKGROUND

For intersection approaches with red light cameras, crashes went down after the cameras were installed. During the three-year period before installation of the cameras at the five intersections, there were 136 total crashes, 33 of which involved red light violators. In the three years after installation, there were 122 crashes on the enforced approaches, 29 of which involved red light violators.

Red light cameras can only serve one direction of travel. The red light camera program is intended to discourage red light running for the specific intersection approaches that are enforced. However, a broader goal for the program is to have a more generalized reduction in red light running behavior at locations without red light cameras. One indication of this more generalized effect relates to crash activity at the non-enforced approaches at intersections with red light cameras.

Crashes at the entire intersections, not just for the approach with red light cameras, have dropped as well. During the three-year period before installation of the cameras at the five intersections, there were 252 crashes, 78 of which involved drivers going against the red light. In the three years after installation, there were 199 crashes at the intersection, 54 of which involved red light violators.

In addition to a reduction in total crash activity, injury crashes have also dropped at locations where red light cameras are operating. There were 26% fewer injuries for the enforced approaches for the four years after camera operation than there was for the four years before. Total injury crashes for all approaches at the intersections were reduced by 30% over the same time period.

According to Greg Raisman, a City traffic safety specialist, fines from red light cameras are dedicated to a traffic safety account. “These funds are used to make our roads safer through engineering, education, and enforcement efforts,” says Raisman. “The program is set up so that violators pay to make our streets safer and so that they are less likely to violate again in the future.”

In 1999, the Oregon Legislature approved the use of 12 red light cameras in Portland. The first six were installed between October 2001 and April 2003. The cameras take photographs of cars running red lights, generating tickets that are sent to the car’s owner. Police oversee the issuance of tickets, which carry a $245 fine, and the money goes in to the City’s General Fund. Over a five-year period, the red light camera program netted the City nearly $60,000 per year.
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that red light cameras have a positive economic benefit of about $40,000 each year per camera by reducing the number of severe crashes at enforced locations. This means that Portlanders will realize an estimated $1.8 million in economic benefit in the first 10 years of operation of six new red light cameras. The estimated cost of installing cameras at six locations is $250,000. This represents a benefit/cost ratio of over 7 for the investment.

Two City agencies administer the program. The Police Bureau reviews and signs the issued citations to the drivers, provides officers to testify if the driver requests a trial, and works with program vendors on maintenance issues. The Portland Office of Transportation monitors the effectiveness of the cameras. Both agencies are responsible for choosing which intersections receive the cameras. Locations are selected for red light camera enforcement because they have high numbers of crashes caused by red light running compared to other intersections in the city.

For more information about the red light camera program, go to the City of Portland’s website at www.portlandonline.com, and in the search field, type: red light running.

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