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Crashes are up at intersections with red-light cameras, council learns
Fayetteville Observer - 10/13/2020
Oct. 13--More accidents have occurred in the last couple of years at intersections in Fayetteville where red-light cameras have been installed, the latest figures show.
But some city officials question whether the traffic accidents could be even worse without the traffic cameras, which are used to ticket people who drive through red lights.
The City Council received the news in the form of an administrative report in its agenda on Monday night without discussion.
The report shows that fewer people who get a ticket for running a red light get another one.
"The recidivism rate for the program since inception is 88%," the staff report presented to the City Council states. "Therefore, only 12% of violators are repeat violators."
Mayor Mitch Colvin said in an interview before the meeting that there could be a number of contributing factors that are leading to the increase in crashes at intersections with red-light cameras.
He said the council will discuss the red-light figures at an upcoming work session.
"It is something that we are taking a look at," he said. "I've been really vocal about Cliffdale Road and how dangerous that has become, and I'm pressing them to look at some of these other state thoroughfares that run east to west or north to south that we have a lot of accidents on. Country Club Drive is another one."
In 2015, the city adopted a program in which vehicles are filmed at major intersections, and drivers caught going through red lights get a $100 ticket in the mail.
There are 14 cameras at 12 intersections in the city. The cameras are at busy intersections such as Skibo Road at Morganton Road, Bragg Boulevard at Cain Road and Raeford Road at Bunce Road.
Councilwoman Yvonne Kinston asked city staff to come back with the update on the red-light camera program and asked the council whether the city might want to install more cameras.
The staff report shows that over the last two years, there have been more traffic accidents, including the more serious ones, at intersections with cameras.
Total crashes at all intersections where there are cameras increased from 513 to 543 over the last two years, the staff report states.
The total number of average crashes per year per intersection increased from 32.27 to 34.42, a 6.7% increase.
Total rear-end crashes at all intersections where there are cameras increased from 220 to 230, a 4.5% increase.
Kinston on Monday said even though the crash numbers are up, they might be up even more without the red-light cameras.
"It is deterring people once they get a ticket from getting another ticket, so that is a plus," Kinston said. "With accident rates, sometimes it doesn't pick up speeding. It could be someone making an illegal turn, which would not pick up on the red-light cameras."
Kinston said she'd like the council to consider installing new red-light cameras on Cliffdale Road, where accidents are increasing.
"If we are not doing red-light cameras, we need to install caution lights or something," Kinston said. "Cliffdale Road has a lot of accidents."
Money collected above the cost of administering the program goes to the Cumberland County school system. The program has issued 125,921 citations as of Aug. 31.
Councilman Johnny Dawkins said that he would like state law changed so that at least some of the proceeds from the tickets are spent on putting in safety features at the intersections.
"We don't get any money to make those intersections safer," he said. "And then when crashes go up at red-light intersections and we get no money, we can't expect things to improve."
Also on Monday night, the council held a public hearing on its new 10-year parks and recreation plan. Several audience members asked that pickleball courts be a higher priority, and Councilman Larry Wright wanted new indoor basketball courts where tournaments could be held included in the plan, which can be modified over the years.
The plan, which was based on surveys of residents, prioritized: Natural walking or hiking trails, an indoor aquatics center, indoor fitness facilities, multi-use fields and courts, playgrounds, an indoor recreation center and gym, walking and running trails and open fields for free play.
Staff writer John Henderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3596.
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