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Red-Light Camera Citations Drop in Arnold as MoDOT Changes Yellow Light Times

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Motorists driving along roadways maintained by the Missouri Department of Transportation could receive fewer red-light camera tickets if preliminary reports from Arnold ring true statewide.

Beginning in February, MoDOT began changing the yellow-light signal times throughout Arnold, where all the city's red-light cameras happen to be along state-controlled roads. In general, the change to the signals has lengthened the amount of time for yellow lights.

For example, motorists traveling southbound through the intersection of Highway 141 and Astra Way now have 1.6 seconds more yellow time -- from 4 seconds to 5.6 seconds. MoDOT has also changed the length of time that all signals at an intersection appear red, generally giving intersections a bit more time to clear all cars before changing lights.

In so doing, Arnold has experienced an unintended consequence -- the number of red-light runners has plummeted since MoDOT made the changes.

In January, the city issued 691 red-light camera citations, according to information obtained from a city council member. By March, the number of citations had dropped to 263. Last month, the vendor that operates Arnold's red-light cameras -- American Traffic Solutions -- confirms that it issued just 198 citations. That's a drop of 72 percent from the number of citations issued in January.

Tom Blair, MoDOT's assistant engineer for the St. Louis regions, tells Daily RFT that he doesn't anticipate other cities seeing such steep declines once MoDOT finishes changing all its signal speeds across the state. For starters, all Arnold's red-light cameras happen to be on MoDOT roadways. That's not the case in most cities. In St. Louis, just over half (13) of the city's 25 intersection with red-light cameras are along MoDOT controlled roadways.

"In Arnold, the speed limit on the roads with these cameras is also higher than what you'd have in most places, including St. Louis," he says. "For example, the speed limit on Highway 141 in Arnold is 60 mph, and thus the need for a longer yellow."

MoDOT is changing the signal speeds based on national standards that take into consideration actual driving speeds (not the posted speed limit) and other factors.

"Unfortunately drivers are a lot more distracted these days with cell phones, GPS, satellite radio, etc.," says Blair. "And they're also driving faster, which can necessitate the need for a longer yellow and longer all-red to make sure the intersection is safe and clear."

Charles Territo, the spokesman for American Traffic Solutions (ATS), tells Daily RFT that his company is "pleased" with the reduced number of violations in Arnold, which became the first Missouri city to install red-light cameras in 2005. Yet, Territo doesn't give longer amber times the sole credit for the drop in citations. He suggests that the cameras themselves have played a role in curbing unsafe driving.

"Fewer violations means that driver behavior is changing and that the unsafe driving practices that increase the likelihood of collisions are decreasing," says Territo, who adds: "Studies have shown that if the amber light is too long, drivers will disregard it and consider it part of the green light cycle."

Doris Borgelt, an Arnold council member who was elected into office in April, says she was shocked to see the reduction in red-light citations when she requested the information from the police department. She says her colleagues on the council have turned a deaf ear to her findings and recently considered placing a fifth city intersection under red-light camera surveillance.

Borgelt passed her findings on to Matt Hay, a vocal opponent of the cameras who, as an Arnold councilman from 2008 to 2010, tried to rid the city of its contract with ATS. Since leaving the council, Hay has gone onto create the website WrongOnRed.com that criticizes the use of the cameras.

Says Hay, "Since the number of citations in Arnold had doubled from the first full year that these cameras were installed through the end of last year, it raises the question on what is the effective means of making roads safer. Is it cameras or proper engineering of traffic signals? The results seem to indicate the latter, but then that doesn't generate any revenue through tickets."

Related Content:
Website Accused of Imitating Forum For Those Opposed to Red-Light Cameras

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9 comments
dorisborgelt
dorisborgelt

An update! In December of 2010 the City of Arnold issued 1092 red light camera violations from four camera equipped intersections .  In December of 2011 the City of Arnold issued 91 red light camera violations at those same four intersections.  This 91% reduction in total violations is attributable to the change in the amber light intervals along with the increased all-red period.  Question is, will approximately $50,000 per year be sufficient to keep ATS up and running in Arnold, will it cover their expenses? Will a flashing yellow light located before the Astraway intersection on eastbound 141 warning people to prepare to stop when flashing reduce this rate even further when installed?  There are other inexpensive things we can do that will actually make the intersections in Arnold safer and we should implement them as soon as possible for the safety of our citizens and the people who visit our city.

BoilerFan
BoilerFan

So should we pay in St Louis?  I have read conflicting information from various websites.

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

Set all main road posted speed limits at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions, the method that maximizes safety and minimizes the crash rate.   Time all traffic lights to those actual approach speeds.  Require, as in the Florida law, that any ticket issued for a slow rolling right on red must have a video revealing an actual safety problem.  Make these three changes and the ticket camera industry would simply go bankrupt.  There would not be enough violations recorded to even pay the basic costs of the cameras, let alone produce enough profits to interest either the camera companies or their business partner cities in doing a program.  The entire ticket camera industry requires improper engineering and/or unethical traffic management policies to exist.  Please read the science on our website and perhaps you will join us to help rid the country of predatory ticket cameras.  James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org, Ann Arbor, MI

St Pete Driver
St Pete Driver

It's laughable that ATS is trying to claim credit for such a drastic drop in red light camera citations at the exact time when yellow signal times were extended. Hopefully the ticketing levels will go so low they will remove the cameras because they aren't profitable enough for them.

kcturbodug
kcturbodug

An interesting aside:  Even with the "input" of camera vendors (ie, American Traffic Solutions), MoDOT's own study of RLC-monitored intersections showed a 14% INCREASE in accidents after cameras were installed.  Furthermore, studies done by other DOT's like Virginia, New Mexico, and a comprehensive study by the University of S. Florida also show that red light cameras actually INCREASE accidents, not decrease them, as you hear ATS and revenue-generating municipalities like Arnold tell it.  Red Light Cameras are nothing but a profit-driven, money-making fleecing of the public by Goldman-Sachs funded companies like American Traffic Solutions.  Although links aren't accepted, I encourage readers to visit sites like WrongOnRed dot com, CameraFraud dot com, and BanTheCams to get tons of information on red light cameras and how they are nothing more than a driving tax, and are not about safety at all, not to mention how they violate your rights to privacy and are unconstitutional on a number of levels.

Jon
Jon

Indeed.

They've had the cameras since 2005, where they haven't had much impact on reducing red-light runners. Then the state increases yellow-light duration a couple months back, and suddenly the red light cameras (over the same 3 month span) are the reason for driver behavior suddenly changing.

Are they crazy?

Matt Hay
Matt Hay

Not crazy, corrupt. This is all about American Traffic Solutions and corrupt municipalities cashing in on improperly timed/short yellows to maximize revenue, all while attempting to convince you it is all about safety. The web is full of examples where traffic engineers have identified and determined that these signals are improperly short and that municipalities and ATS have made a boat load. Some Cities have been sued and forced to give it back, while others attempted to claim sovereign immunity. Very disgusting to sacrifice safety for revenue, but that is what these systems actually do.

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