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Red-Light Cameras Mean Green For Fayetteville

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Raleigh's red-light cameras got a


this week. They are up and operating at two intersections.

Fayetteville has had them in place for more than three years, and going when it is red will cost you green -- $50 dollars for running a stoplight and getting caught in a flash.

Since April 2000, Fayetteville has had red light cameras at five intersections. More are on the way.

The contractor who runs the cameras and sends out the tickets gets $32 per citation. The city gets $18.

The average collection rate over the last six months is about 71 percent.

"I think for first-time collections, that is a good rate," said city traffic engineer Rusty Thompson. "For most businesses, if this was a business, they would find that acceptable."

If a person does not pay after several warnings, his or her name heads to a collection agency. That threat has more people paying up.

To date, Fayetteville has collected more than $500,000 from people like Ricky Wiggins, who has been caught on tape before.

"I still think it is entrapment," Wiggins said.

Wiggins stopped short of running a light Wednesday.

"I work too hard for my money just to give it away," he said.

Fayetteville has spent $300,000 of the money to make improvements at intersections and railroad crossings.

Raleigh, meanwhile, just hopes to break even. While Raleigh gets the entire $50 per ticket, the city is paying a flat fee to the contractor to run the cameras.

Raleigh will use any extra money for school crossing guards.

Raleigh officials say it is purely about safety. But, ironically in Fayetteville, accidents from running red lights has gone up at one intersection and stayed the same at two others.

Many cities with cameras have seen the amount of tickets issued go down with time because people know where the cameras are. But in Wilmington and Fayetteville, that is not the case. Officials attribute that to the changing military and tourist population.

Red-light cameras already have been put up in Greensboro, High Point, Wilmington and Charlotte.

More than 28,000 citations were issued in Charlotte between August 2001 and July 2002, and the city collected more than $900,000 in fines and late fee payments. The money goes to improve school and pedestrian safety programs.

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