Local News

Lawmakers Give Green Light To Raleigh, Cary Traffic Cameras

Posted July 4, 2001

— Seven traffic cameras have been catching red-light runners in Fayetteville since last March. During that time, thousands of drivers have run the red and have had to pay up in green.

David Jackson feels pretty certain the red light cameras are a go. The sound of success can be heard from the corner car lot where he works.

"You hear a lot of tires squealing, people trying to stop from going through the light," he says.

Fayetteville officials think using the traffic cameras is a pro-active approach to avoiding accidents. They believe a $50 fine will make people think twice about running red.

"You happen to slow down at more lights, not just the one at the camera but at other lights as well," says motorist Tammiika Frowner.

Rep. Bob Hensley (D-Wake) says, since the companies set up the cameras, times them and reads the film as is the case in Fayetteville, they are nothing more than rent-a-cops trying to make a buck with local governments getting a percentage of the take.

"Anybody who reads the figures and the facts knows that it's not a safety issue. It's a cash cow and money-making issue for local governments," he says.

More than 15,000 drivers in Fayetteville have gotten tickets. All but about 400 have paid the fine. Since some license plates are hard to read, some people who have never been in Fayetteville have gotten tickets in the mail. The company that operates the cameras has a solution.

"Lockheed is currently putting in a program that will match the vehicle to the tag to ensure the right vehicle is getting the ticket," says city traffic engineer Rusty Thompson.

For those drivers who insist the light was yellow, the company will soon start sending out three pictures instead of two to prove the light was red. For every ticket, Fayetteville gets $15, which has added up to over $200,000 for future intersection improvements.

Wake County plans to set up its program differenly. Extra money generated from traffic camera fines will go to the schools.


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