Red Light Systems Going In

Highway safety advocates say several Virginia localities are in the early stages of establishing or reviving traffic light monitoring systems that use cameras to catch red-light runners.

Legislation allowing localities across the state to implement so-called "photo red" programs took effect July 1. The technology allows cameras to snap photos of cars that run stoplights. The license plate number is used to identify the car's owner, who gets a ticket in the mail.

Traffic safety advocates say the cameras reduce red-light running, therefore decreasing the number of injuries from broadside collisions.

Opponents have argued that the use of cameras is an invasion of privacy. They say that the decrease in broadside collisions is at least partially offset by an increase in rear-end collisions.

A new study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council confirmed that photo enforcement decreases red-light running crashes but increases rear-end crashes. It found that results significantly vary by jurisdiction and intersection.

Officials say it could take several months to install the programs.


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