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Colorado Study: Red Light Cameras Increase Accidents 83 Percent
Ft. Collins, Colorado has experienced an 83 percent increase in the number of accidents since red light cameras were installed.

Ft Collins red light camera
A Fort Collins, Colorado intersection has suffered an 83 percent increase in accidents since a red light camera system was installed in 1997. The city's program generates $734,000 in annual revenue from $75 citations issued at the intersection of Drake Road and College Avenue. Despite the lack of demonstrable safety benefit, officials are planning to add at least one speed camera this year and possibly another red light camera next year.

According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan analysis, which considered ten years of accident data, the collision rate at the intersection with a red light camera jumped from 1.31 per million vehicles entering the intersection in 1994 to 2.4 in 2004.

Cameras monitor traffic headed either north or south, but not east or west, through the intersection. Twenty-eight rear-end accidents happened in the monitored directions compared to just six in the camera-free directions.

"Prevention is always a difficult thing to measure," Fort Collins Police Lieutenant Gary Perman explained in the system's defense. "How do you gauge something that isn't happening?"

On August 12, the city added one second of yellow time to the camera-monitored movements of the intersection to see if it would improve safety. Both accidents and red light citations dropped by more than half comparing the most recent month's data to the same time last year. Daily ticket revenue also plunged from $3000 to $1125, giving officials cause to delay voting on a new camera to see if revenue will rebound.

The Coloradoan findings are consistent with a number of recent studies including those of The Washington Post which documented a doubling of accidents since cameras were installed in the nation's capital.

Article Excerpt:
Police Chief Dennis Harrison maintained that the camera program has never been about the money. "It's all driven by safety factors and accident rates," he said. "This was never designed, in our application of it, to be a money maker.
"The first and primary issue will always be safety."
Source: Accidents increase on camera's watch (The Coloradoan, 10/30/2005)

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