Crashes increase at red-light camera intersections
Sheriff says there were fewer of the more serious, side-impact crashes
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There were more crashes since red-light cameras were installed at dozens of Jacksonville intersections, but Sheriff John Rutherford said there were fewer side-impact crashes, and those are usually more dangerous.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office crime analysis unit compared the 544 days before the cameras were installed to the 544 days after drivers started getting citations and found there were 24 more crashes overall at those intersections across the city.
Despite the increase, Rutherford believes Jacksonville's roads are safer with nearly 40 cameras watching 25 different intersections.
Crash increased the most at:
- Beach Boulevard at Interstate 295 - up 29.7 percent
- Baymeadows Road at I-295 - up 28.6 percent
- Baymeadows Road at Southside Boulevard - up 27.3 percent
Other intersections saw sharp decreases in overall traffic crashes:
- Arlington Road at Cesery Boulevard - down 44.4 percent
- Beach Boulevard at Hodges - down 32.6 percent
Rutherford acknowledges that there have significantly more rear-end crashes at these intersections since the cameras started flashing (879 before, 1,201 after) and the number of overall crashes has increased slightly.
While some might see the increase in crashes as an alarming side-effect of people slamming on their brakes when a light turns yellow rather than risk a ticket, the city's top cop points out that side-impact crashes have decreased.
"Looks like our number of red light runners is going down significantly, so that is a good thing," said Rutherford. "The rear ends are not nearly as dangerous to life and limb as a side-impact crash. That has kind of been the history of video red-light enforcement all across the country: You see rear-end impact go up, and eventually they start going back down."
Rutherford said the red light cameras didn't bring in the estimated $1.5 million in citation revenue that was forecast in last year's budget, so this year he's not anticipating any additional revenue.
"We put zero dollars in the budget because it is just too volatile to even figure out," Rutherford said.
The sheriff said installation of cameras was never about the revenue anyway and he's still 100 percent behind the red-light cameras. He said he's focusing on educating the public.
"People need to understand that when you are approaching a red light that is changing, slow down and stop because the car in front of you is probably not going to run the red light like they used to do, and that's why we've had such an increase in the rear-end crashes," Rutherford said.
The sheriff said the company that operates the cameras, RedFlex, takes a cut from the citations, but the way the contract is written, they will never be subsided by tax money.
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