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Hagerstown council hears pitch for red light cameras

December 02, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A salesman from a company that produces traffic-safety equipment told the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday that installing his cameras at intersections would lead to a high conviction rate among motorists who run red lights.

Rick Ledford, regional sales manager for Nestor Traffic Systems of Providence, R.I., said the cameras have helped authorities catch more than 99 percent of the people who run red lights in cities where the devices have been installed, including Baltimore and Los Angeles.

Nestor Traffic Systems would install the cameras for free in exchange for a $35 cut from "each paid citation," Ledford said.

The cameras also come with a collision-avoidance system that detects when an oncoming vehicle is traveling too fast to stop for a red light, Ledford said. The system is designed to delay the light from changing to prevent a collision.

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"It is about saving lives," Ledford said.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith told the council that the fine would be assessed like a parking ticket, given to the registered owner of the vehicle.

Smith said the fine has not been determined, but Frederick, Md., which uses the cameras, charges $100.

The council agreed not to make a decision on the proposal until it is heard by the city's Board of Public Traffic and Safety.

Councilman Martin E. Brubaker and Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean said they wanted to hear more information before they make a decision.

Brubaker said he read that the cameras have been known to cause accidents.

Ledford said he was aware that some critics claim the cameras cause rear-end collisions because motorists allegedly slam on the brakes at intersections in which the cameras are being used.

Ledford told the council that rather than take his word, the city should poll other municipalities that use the cameras to get an unbiased opinion.

Smith said he didn't know how many cameras would be installed until the council gives its approval and a traffic study is conducted to determine which intersections would be most appropriate for their use.

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