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Jury Still Out On Effectiveness Of Raleigh's Red-Light Cameras

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Chapel Hill is getting rid of them. Cary is just getting into them, and Fayetteville has been using them for four years.

We're talking about red light cameras.

Anyone in Raleigh whose picture has been snapped by a red-light camera is not alone. The cameras started clicking in August.

Now, the city has released information from a just-completed six-month review.

"Up through last Friday, we have issued about 5,000 citations," traffic engineer Mike Kennon said.

That is about 834 red-light citations a month.

Despite all those $50 penalties, drivers have disputed less than one percent of the violations. Only 43 cases have been reviewed by an appeals panel.

Kennon did not have a count of how many appeals have been successful. But, he said the program is successful.

"We're very pleased with the operation," he said. "It is too soon to tell if we have a reduction on accidents, a reduction in citations. We need to wait a year; three years is really an optimum point."

One problem has come up: At wide intersections like five-lane Capital Boulevard at Highwoods, the view of some cars gets blocked by big trucks. If the cameras cannot see everyone, not everyone who qualifies for a citation gets a citation.

City officials said they will fix that by adjusting camera angles.

Engineers will use the six-month review to help them decide where and when Raleigh expands from eight to 15 red-light cameras.

Cary, which just put up its first camera, plans a total of 20.

Kennon said he is not concerned that Cary will have more cameras than Raleigh.

"Because we're going to put them where the intersections need to be protected," he said.

Protected from red-light runners or watched by Big Brother, you can expect more red-light cameras at Raleigh intersections by this summer.

The Chapel Hill Town Council recently voted to get out of the red-light camera business. Raleigh engineers said no one has approached them about ending their program.