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Are the city's red light cameras working?

Updated: 12/17/2013 6:47 PM
Created: 12/17/2013 3:14 PM WHEC.com
By: Amanda Ciavarri

There are more than 30 red light cameras at intersections throughout the city of Rochester. Thousands of tickets have been handed out because of them. The city has said they're there to increase safety, but is it working?

To find out if the cameras are actually making your safer, News10NBC put in a request to the city for the statistics back in March. Shortly after we got the number for 2010-2011, we wanted the most recent stats. The city said they would get them to us, but there are still no numbers.

News10NBC has learned that seven states (Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wisconsin) have canned the red light cameras all together because they weren't seeing a decrease in accidents. 

So what are the numbers in Rochester? The reports looks at accidents at the intersections the year before the cameras went into place and the year after. At the intersection of North Clinton and Norton, there were 26 accidents the year before the camera and six after. This intersection had the largest reduction in accidents, 79 percent. 

However, even with the cameras, some intersections saw no change at all, like Alexander and Broadway. There were 12 accidents before the cameras and 12 accidents after the cameras.

Some intersections even had an increase. At Dewey and Ridgeway, the intersection saw the number of accidents, with injuries, increase from two to five.

A company called Redflex in Arizona maintains the cameras, but the Rochester Police Department has the final say when it comes to handing out tickets. Lt. Leo Tydings oversees that department.

Lt. Leo Tydings, Rochester Police Department, said, “Preliminary information appears it is going to be going down, but Redflex shows it is really going to take three solid years before you can draw a conclusion.”

Not everyone believes these cameras were put up to increase safety. Lawrence Krieger is a lawyer in Rochester. He decided to sue the city after he got a ticket for running a red light. Krieger says the cameras are unconstitutional and he believes they have actually cause accidents.

Lawrence Krieger said, “There is a statistical increase in rear end collisions.”

News10NBC took that concern to Lt. Tydings and he says rear end accidents aren't a huge issue for the city.

Tydings said, “Are we going to see the rear end accidents? Yes, but then again we had those before the red light program.”

Another issue Krieger has is the money these cameras bring in.

Krieger said, “The city issued 80,000 tickets at $50 a piece that comes out to $4 million in revenue.”

Tydings said, “That might have an appearance of  that cause that is the spin those people want to put on it, but the reality is there is a reduction. How much is the reduction right now? In the t-bone accidents the intersection accidents with serious physical injuries? I can't give you a real specific on that but I feel really comfortable with saying yes, those accidents are going down.”

In the lawsuit Krieger brought against the city, the judge ruled that the cameras are constitutional. Right now, Krieger's lawyer is appealing that decision. News10NBC will keep you updated on that and we will also continue to work on getting the most recent stats.



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