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Critics Say Money Is Driving Philadelphia Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras have popped up all over the Delaware Valley, including Philadelphia and South Jersey, and soon they could be coming to Philadelphia suburbs. The purpose of the red light cameras is to dissuade drivers from running red lights at dangerous intersections, but critics say the red light cameras are actually doing more harm than good.

In fact, motor vehicle accidents have actually increased at several of the intersections with the red light cameras. According to a PennDOT report, the infamous intersection of Roosevelt Boulevard and Grant Avenue in Philadelphia has actually experienced more accidents since the red light cameras were installed in 2005.

The report indicates that there were 159 crashes at the intersection over the past five year, while there were 138 crashes at the intersection in the five years before the cameras were installed. Officials have said that there have been fewer accidents caused by red light runners at the intersections, but they are unsure why accidents have gone up anyway.

The same thing is happening at some intersections in South Jersey. A New Jersey state lawmaker who supports the cameras said he thinks the problem is people driving too fast or following too closely to the car in front of them. Additionally, he said a lot of drivers today are distracted and not paying attention to the roads ahead of them.

Critics, on the other hand, say the red light cameras cause people to slam on their brakes at the last second to avoid being ticketed, which can easily turn into a rear-end accident. Others are even more skeptical. They say the red light cameras are really just a moneymaker, as they generate millions of dollars in revenue each year.

In Philadelphia, people caught running red lights by the cameras face a fine of $100. A member of the National Motorists Association, which is against red light cameras, said a simple solution would be making yellow lights longer, that way fewer people would run red lights. However, he said there is no money in that, so it is an unlikely solution.

Source: CBS Philly, “I-Team: Red Light Camera Controversy,” Ben Simmoneau, Feb. 19, 2013