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10/26/2005
Philadelphia: Accidents Up at Camera Intersections
Accidents have increased 10-20 percent since red light cameras began issuing tickets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rear end collision in Oxnard, CAPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania began its red light camera program last year claiming the device would reduce accidents, but accidents have actually increased between 10 and 20 percent since the cameras began issuing $100 citations.

"The red light camera program is about saving lives and reducing accidents," Philadelphia Parking Authority Deputy Director Vince Fenerty, who oversees the camera program, said at the second camera's installation.

That device, located at Red Lion Road and Roosevelt Boulevard, has caused a twenty percent increase in accidents since it went live on May 21. Between June 21 and September 4, 2004 the intersection experienced 32 accidents. In the same period this year, there were 39 accidents according to police statistics obtained by the Philadelphia Weekly.

Likewise, the first camera, located at the intersection of Grant Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard, has caused a ten percent increase in collisions. From February 23 to September 4, 2004 there were 82 accidents (one fatal) compared with 91 accidents (one fatal) in the same period this year.

"The installation of Red Light Cameras may temporarily cause an increase in rear end collisions," claims the Philadelphia Parking Authority website. "However, any small increase in these minor accidents returns to previous levels when drivers begin to slow down and comply with the speed limits and traffic signal phases."

The Parking Authority goes on to claim "more severe" accidents are reduced and that, "the vast majority of studies and reports (over 90%) support this fact."

Independent studies conducted over the past ten years suggest otherwise. Most recently, the Washington Post found accidents doubled at camera intersections in the nation's capital after six years of photo enforcement. A Virginia DOT-sponsored study found injury accidents increased in Virginia over seven years of red light camera use. The Australian Road Research Board in a ten-year study of the issue and found rear-end collisions did not go away over time. (View full text of studies.)

In some cases, Philadelphia's cameras are ticketing people who had done nothing wrong. The Roosevelt and Grant camera claimed Edward J. Keegan III, 43, ran a red light on September 19 at 7:13pm.

"I'm being accused of a crime I didn't commit," Keegan told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Keegan explains he hasn't been to that intersection in a decade, his car was in the garage at the time and that his 1990 Audi Coupe Quattro is red. The car in the photo, whose license plate is not completely readable, is black.

"This is pure human error," Fenerty explained, after admitting that the ticket was improperly issued.

Pennsylvania officials have used the law to shield the red light program from any further scrutiny, including release of how many $100 citations the system has issued.

Source: Red-Light District (Philadelphia Weekly, 10/26/2005)

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