Charlotte City Council Considers Red Light Cameras

Charlotte City Council members met Monday, April 2, to discuss the topic of bringing back red light cameras. The city did away with the red light camera programs 12 years ago due to the cost, but some are advocating for their return in an effort to decrease intersection crashes and improve pedestrian safety. Car crashes in Charlotte are up 30% from last year.

Those in favor point to the success of the red light cameras in cities such as Raleigh, Fayetteville and Wilmington.


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that red light cameras in conjunction with public awareness can modify driving behavior and have been shown to reduce red light violations and intersection crashes. Nationwide each year, drivers who run red lights are responsible for an estimated 260,000 crashes resulting in approximately 200,000 injuries and 800 deaths.


Motorists who run red lights are at risk for a T-bone crash, which are the most likely to result in serious injury or fatality. IIHS's study showed that cities who turned off their red-light cameras found a large increase in fatal crashes, due to the severity of T-bone crashes. 


AAA Carolinas ran a poll on social media that found 69% of Carolinians do not believe red light cameras are the solution to the increase in car crashes, while 31% said they are.


Many who oppose the red light cameras state cost as the biggest issue. Charlotte estimates bringing the program back would cost the city about $1 million a year. North Carolina mandates each city give 90% of the citation proceeds to the public school system of that county. Advocates against the camera implementation say that money could be spent on other traffic safety measures, such as sidewalk improvements.


Charlotte wants to take a more holistic approach to decreasing car crashes by utlizing programs including "Vision Zero" which aims at promoting traffic safety and includes addressing the needs for improvements at intersections and sidewalks.  


The general consensus from the meeting is that the majority of city council members are against red-light cameras. The initiative was not officially struck down, but it is temporarily on the back-burner to other city issues.

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