PA Mulls Extending, Expanding Red Light Camera Program

21-states and the District of Columbia allow for some form of red light cameras.  Pennsylvania can be counted among them, but the Automated Red Light Enforcement program is currently limited to Philadelphia, where the cameras are operating at 19-intersections. 

Appearing before the House Transportation Committee, Monday, PennDOT testified to the program’s success.  “We found that there was a 15 – 16% reduction in red light running crashes, overall, throughout the entire city,” says Deputy Secretary Scott Christie.  He also testified to a 50% reduction in violations after 18-months. 

AAA Mid-Atlantic supports Pennsylvania’s program because they say it is well-written.  “Traffic enforcement, and especially automated means such as red light cameras, must be clearly focused on safety – not revenue generation – to earn AAA’s support,” says Vice President of Public and Government Affairs Ron Kosh.     

The committee heard conflicting testimony on whether the implementation of red light cameras actually increases the instances of rear-end crashes at busy intersections.  Regardless, Jim Walker with the National Motorists Association says there’s a better way to improve intersections safety: increasing the duration of yellow lights.  “A 2003 Texas Transportation Institute Study concluded an increase of one-half to one and a half seconds of yellows, decreased red light violations by at least 50%,” says the association’s Jim Walker. 

Legislation to expand the use of red light cameras to 19 additional cities has already passed the state Senate with a vote of 34 – 14.  Under SB 595, fines would max out at $100, and the revenue would have to be used for traffic safety improvements.  Philadelphia’s program is also on track to sunset at the end of the year, unless state lawmakers act to extend it.