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Raleigh's red-light cameras could go black by October

Posted September 20, 2011
Updated September 21, 2011

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— Raleigh won't be renewing its contract to operate red-light cameras at 15 city intersections.

In a 4-3 vote Tuesday, the City Council came up short of the five votes needed to extend a contract with ACS Xerox for the Safelight Program, which started in 2003 to cut down on wrecks caused by people running red lights where right-angle collisions are most common.

City Manager Russell Allen said a council member could ask to bring up the contract again, but for now, the contract will expire Sept. 30, and the cameras will be turned off and removed.

Council members Mary Ann Baldwin, Nancy McFarlane and Thomas Crowder all said they will work to save the program, but aren't sure they'll be able to do that before the contract expires.

In October 2008, the city voted to renew its 2005 contract with the company for another three years after city leaders said studies show that red-light cameras are effective in reducing crashes at the intersections where they were installed.

A February study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however, compared crash data from 1992 to 1996, before the cameras were in place, with data from 2004 to 2008, and found that Raleigh actually saw an increase in wrecks at camera-patrolled intersections. 

During those four-year periods, fatal crashes jumped from three to nine, the study contends.

Mike Kennon with the Raleigh Public Works Department disputes the numbers in the study. He said his office couldn't find nine fatalities at red light intersections. 

SafeLight operates the cameras at no cost to the city, and the $50 fines from citations benefit Wake County Public School System. 

The city intersections with red-light cameras are:

  • Dawson Street at Morgan Street
  • McDowell Street at Morgan Street
  • Dawson Street at South Street
  • Hillsborough Street at Dixie Trail
  • Avent Ferry Road at Varsity Drive
  • New Bern Avenue at Tarboro Road
  • Peace Street at West Street
  • Wilmington Street at Chapanoke Road
  • Six Forks Road at Dartmouth Street
  • Six Forks Road at Rowan Street
  • New Bern Avenue at Interstate 440 eastbound
  • New Bern Avenue at Interstate 440 westbound
  • Capital Boulevard at Highwoods Boulevard
  • Capital Boulevard at New Hope Church Road
  • New Hope Church Road at Brentwood Road

Pat Postal recently got his picture taken at the intersection of Hillsborough Street and Dixie Trail.

Raleigh's red-light cameras could go black Raleigh's red-light cameras could go black

“When I came out of work, kind of last minute, I saw the light just turn yellow, so I tried to make it through,” he said. “(I) probably should have stopped, but when I crossed through I noticed that the light flashed in my rearview mirror. I didn’t even know they (the cameras) were there until then.”

Postal said the cameras aren’t stopping anyone from running red lights.

“It doesn’t stop anybody. You still see people burning through the red light,” he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Malaki Sep 21, 2011

    If they want to get rid of the cameras then post motorcycle cops at the intersections. We're visiting in Vero Beach and came through one intersection twice while we were out. Both times someone ran the red light and both times the motorcycle cop pulled them over.

    In all my 15 years in Raleigh I've never seen anyone one rear ended at a red light because someone stopped. However, I've seen plenty of near misses and been there a couple of times when people run red lights.

    And there are plenty of wrecks reported in the news for people running the light. It's bull that more accidents happen because of people stopping because of the cameras.

  • Wacky_dood Sep 21, 2011

    I don't care who makes the money from the fines. I'm all for them and think the fines for all traffic offenses (especially speeding) should be greatly increased. In fact, I think the fines should be proportional to a person's earnings. A $150 fine to a Walmart cashier is a lot more punishing than to a doctor or lawyer.

  • pyranna Sep 21, 2011

    The yellow is way too fast. I've been strobed a few times and wasn't real bad. Didn't get a ticket that I know of.

  • readme Sep 21, 2011

    People run red lights all the time and selfishly put other people's lives at risk. There aren't enough cops, and cops are too expensive anyway, to watch all the intersections. I know everyone hates big brother, but these are helpful to catch people. If you are against them because of invasion of privacy, then maybe we can keep them just to use in accident investigations. Then you can run your red lights all you want, but if you cause an accident, maybe some jail time is in order.

  • cartman Sep 21, 2011

    The statistics were available BEFORE they installed the cameras. The number of rear-end collisions increase in locations with red-light cameras. This isn't new.

    These cameras are pushed by the companies that run them. Of the $50 fine, about $45 goes to the company that operates the cameras.....the other $5 to the school. The companies sell these as "safety" but it's really about them making money.

  • shagmyers Sep 21, 2011

    "So, when I got one (the only one), I just did not pay. Nothing happened."

    Where did you read all this? How can you be so sure nothing happened? I wouldn't go and get pulled over. They may have a warrant out for you.

  • TrixRidesAgain Sep 21, 2011

    Prior to getting one of those tickets in LoB (Land of Beige), I had read how those particular tickets are unenforceable and cannot be used to levy points on my license. So, when I got one (the only one), I just did not pay. Nothing happened. So, what's the point? I have seen several spectacular crashes on Capital at Highwoods where people tried to stop and got rear ended or tried to speed through and got nailed. And Knightdale is ridiculous with those camera lights...they have one at a very low traffic volume intersection on Smithfield Rd...greedy, greedy. Better item to develop technology to jam cell phone transmission if the gears are engaged on the car...

  • Red Green Sep 21, 2011

    Traffic cameras, "license" check points. Welcome to communist North Carolina. Now show me your papers.

  • Malaki Sep 21, 2011

    They should be adding more cameras instead. Many people think they own the road and pay no attention to red lights or speed limits. It puts everyone at risk.

  • G-Ovlov Sep 21, 2011

    Oh, you know one thing that causes wrecks at intersections?.......RUNNING RED LIGHTS!!!! Whether it's inattention to driving or someone with the`"Me" syndrome trying to "make one last light" going through the intersection when the light has turned red is the problem!
    I agree with several posters that the consequences need to be more severe and costly for the perpetrator. I also realize that enforcement is a huge problem....It's gonna have to start with self-accountability and taking responsibility for one's own actions.