As I noted previously on this blog, red light cameras in Alexandria, Virginia are once again active in the City of Alexandria. The City of Alexandria has been caught shortening the length of the yellow lights at at least one intersection where the cameras are installed.
As the Washington Times’s link and my link notes, an exhaustive study in 2007 of all seven Virginia red light camera programs showed an overall increase in injury accidents has occurred where the devices are installed. The study was performed by The Virginia Transportation Research Council at the request of the state transportation secretary.
Alexandria Police have said that they are alarmed at the number of red-light camera fines being generated in the City of Alexandria. Yet now, the City of Alexandria is looking at adding as many as three (3) new red light cameras in the FY 2015 budget. In the words of P Diddy, ‘It’s All About The Benjamin’s Baby‘!
But, do red light cameras help decrease accidents where the cameras are installed? Erich Wagner at the Alexandria Times recently found the answer to that question to be a big fat NO – just as it was in 2007.
City and police officials cited crash reduction as a key reason for the measure when the first cameras went live in 2011 at the intersections of Duke and Walker streets as well as South Patrick and Gibbon streets. They again made the case for safety earlier this year, when pushing for more red-light cameras at those intersections emerged as part of City Manager Rashad Young’s draft budget.
The proposed cameras would cover lanes not yet under surveillance.
But statistics obtained by the Times through a Freedom of Information Act request indicate the cameras, at best, only temporarily improved safety at those two intersections.
According to the police department’s statistics, crashes at Duke and Walker streets fell from 15 to seven in the camera’s first year of operation. But authorities responded to 17 accidents in 2012 and then 18 in 2013.
A similar trend occurred at the intersection of South Patrick and Gibbon streets. Eight crashes occurred at the site in both 2010 and 2011 and that number fell to four in 2012. But — like at Duke and Walker — crashes spiked in 2013, up to 13 accidents.