Red light cameras could be coming to Lancaster City [Lancaster Watchdog] | Local News
The City of Lancaster plans to install automatic red light cameras at major intersections in an ongoing effort to improve traffic safety.
The State Law Governing red-light cameras requires police departments to be licensed by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, and the Lancaster City Police Bureau has been working toward this for several years.
If accredited – which requires formal assessment to ensure the police adhere to a wide range list of operational standards – The City of Lancaster would join the Township of Manheim and the Township of East Hempfield as the county’s three eligible municipalities under the Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) program based on their population and Lancaster County classification .
According to PennDOT, only two eligible municipalities in Pennsylvania — Philadelphia and Abington Township in Montgomery County — currently operate programs.
Once eligible, the Lancaster city government must enact an ordinance authorizing the cameras. Then Lancaster can offer PennDOT intersections where cameras would be installed, after which the state has 60 days to approve or deny them on a case-by-case basis.
Cameras would fit in Lancaster’s biggest Vision Zero Plan eliminate serious injuries and fatalities from motor vehicles by 2030. The city’s action plan, adopted in 2020, calls for design changes on high-injury highways and education and community engagement on road safety.
As part of Vision Zero, the city has already added curbs on Highland Avenue and a traffic sign giving pedestrians a head start at the intersection of N. Queen Street and Chestnut Street, among other projects.
“We fully understand that this is a multi-pronged approach,” said Cindy McCormick, assistant director of engineering for the city’s Department of Public Works. “We don’t just want to enforce the law, we want to combine that with all the other things we do to try to influence driver behavior.”
Four people died and 15 others were seriously injured in crashes in the city last year, according to PennDOT data. Three of the deaths occurred near intersections along Prince Street, while one on Manor Street.
Just over 700 total crashes occurred within city limits in 2021. Of those, 66, or 9.3%, involved at least one driver running a red light, according to PennDOT data. However, none of the crashes involving a red light in 2021 resulted in serious injury or death.
Cameras have found success elsewhere
The ARLE program began in Philadelphia in 2005 and expanded to 33 intersections there and three in Abington in June, according to PennDOT.
According to a report 2017 of the National Transport Commission.
Abington added its cameras in 2014 after a year-long effort to research their feasibility and identify a vendor, said Abington Police administrative services manager Melissa Gargan. The township alerted residents to cameras with street signs near intersections and used social media and visits to community meetings to educate the public about them, she added.
Initially, the Abington community was hesitant about whether the cameras would be used for surveillance and whether they would lead to more rear-end crashes, said Abington Police Chief Patrick Malloy.
Accidents at intersections equipped with Abington cameras declined in the years after they were installed, according to department data. The township averaged between 20 and 30 violations a day from January to March this year, with nearly nine out of ten offending drivers being non-residents, according to a report of the police department.
By law, the cameras cannot take photos of the front of vehicles that would identify drivers and cannot be used for photo surveillance unless ordered by a court in connection with a crime. Violations do not appear on offenders’ driving records nor do they affect their insurance, according to Abington. police website.
Under Title 75, the standard fine for an automatic red light violation would be $100, unless a municipality decides to lower it. Drivers are given a 60-day grace period from the first installation of the cameras to receive warnings before fines take effect.
According a systemic review 2020 effectiveness of red light camera systems led by a researcher from Florida International University.
Philadelphia pays a flat rate to its provider based on the number of cameras it operates and does not share revenue to ensure there is no incentive for profit by distributing breaches, Corrine said. O’Connor, deputy executive director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which runs the city’s program.
The cost of the program at Abington is fully covered by violation fines, Malloy said. Pennsylvania uses extra funds from violations to pay for traffic safety projects in the rest of the state.
Since 2010, the state has awarded $112.7 million in grants from ARLE funding, including nearly $700,000 in combined funds for the City of Lancaster and Borough of Mountville last year. In the city of Lancaster, the money was used to install sidewalk bumps and a crosswalk sign at the intersection of S. Queen and Farnum streets; in Mountville it was used to replace the signals at the intersection of Main Street and North Manor Street.
Municipalities can also use additional revenue from violations to cover less than 5% of their annual budgets, according to Title 75.
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