The City of Raleigh, North Carolina, has not followed the trend of nearby municipalities in disbanding its red-light camera program. As of the beginning of 2019, there were 15 of the cameras at locations around the city, generating a reported $2 million in fines. Earlier this year, the city council voted to expand the program, adding 10 new cameras in addition to replacing the old ones, allocating $5.3 million for the purpose.
The consequences for a red-light camera ticket compared to a traffic stop by law enforcement for running a red light are considerably lighter. The latter incurs three points on one’s insurance, court costs and a $100 fine, while the former incurs no insurance points and a fine of only $50.
After administrative costs for the city and fees paid to the camera vendors, which total approximately $884,000, most of the money from fines goes to Wake County Schools.
In addition to purported economic benefits, proponents claim that the cameras help to reduce accidents and potentially save lives. Research reportedly shows a 54% reduction in T-bone crashes at intersections that have the cameras.
Not everyone on the road in Raleigh believes that the cameras are an effective deterrent. One driver wonders whether someone who is already driving recklessly will stop doing so if a camera is recording it. Another, even while praising the cameras’ potential to hold violators accountable and improve traffic safety, pointed out that the cameras can malfunction, sometimes assessing tickets against law-abiding drivers as a result.
The city acknowledges camera malfunctions as detriments to the program, as well as the limited ability to capture violators, especially when more than one vehicle runs a red light at the same time. A representative of the city’s transportation department specifically stated that the new cameras will have the capability to capture multiple violators at once, but did not specifically address the other concerns.