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City may forgo red light cameras at intersections

March 26, 2001

City may forgo red light cameras at intersections



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown officials are weighing whether the city should install cameras at traffic signals following a recent traffic study that showed violations were down at four major intersections.

City Engineering Department personnel counted the number of drivers who ran red lights during morning and evening rush hours at Edgewood Avenue and Dual Highway, Franklin and Locust streets, Potomac and Washington streets and Burhans Boulevard and Washington Street last summer and again earlier this month.

The study done last summer showed multiple violations at each of the locations, said City Engineer Bruce Johnston. During that study, 10 violations were counted at the Potomac and Washington streets intersection within a two-hour period, he said.

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At that time, the number of violations indicated a need for the cameras, but a study done this month prompted police and city officials to question whether the lights are necessary, he said.

In the recent study, a total of five violations were recorded at the four intersections during a four- to six-hour period, he said.

Johnston said he will make a recommendation about the cameras to Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and City Council in a few weeks.

The cameras work by photographing vehicles as they approach an intersection and run a red light. A traffic citation would be sent to the owner of the vehicle caught on film going through a red light.

There must be a substantial amount of violators who pay fines to make the cameras affordable. The city would have to pay to have the cameras installed, develop the photos and evaluate the photos for violations.

Johnston said he didn't know why the number of red light runners has decreased in the city.

"I'd like to think that people are getting better at obeying the law but I'm not that naive," he said.

Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith has his own theory about why violations are down.

"Some people think they are already up," said Smith of the cameras.

Small devices that allow rescue vehicles to change traffic lights were recently installed on lights at several intersections in the city and some people may have mistaken them for cameras, said Smith.

In addition, publicity about the lights may have made motorists more cautious, he said.

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