Red light photo enforcement starts Monday in Richmond

Posted at 8:02 PM, Dec 01, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Police have started a new effort to reduce the number of crashes at the intersection of Elkhardt and Hull Streets in South Richmond.

Police installed a red light camera at the intersection and red light enforcement begins Monday. The first 30 days will be used as a warning period.

Sensors trigger the system when the light turns red, according to police.  If a vehicle runs the light, a series of photos is taken of the vehicle and its license plate.  Tickets are mailed to the address listed to the vehicle.

The tickets can be contested in court, and photos of the incident are available online before the scheduled court date.  The fine is $50.  More information on how the process works.

The cameras were installed in January, but were not be activated until Monday. In May, CBS 6 investigated what was taking so long for the system to become operational.

The company the city of Richmond hired to run the system, Redflex Traffic Systme Inc., was at the center of a bribery scandal in the city of Chicago.  Officials in Richmond conducted their own investigation of the city's deal with Redflex Traffic and found no wrong doing.

Officials said they would not move forward with implementing the red light system until the review was final.  Redflex is still handling the operation of the red light photo system.

A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that fatal crashes involving red light runners were significantly reduced when safety cameras were used.

The study was conducted between 2004-2008 and also stated that during that time period, 159 lives were saved, and 815 lives could have been saved with the use of the red light cameras.

There are opponents of the systems nationwide and in Richmond.  Studies in states like Florida and New Jersey have found installation of the systems led to more traffic accidents.

In a statement released by AAA Mid Atlantic about Richmond's new red light photo enforcement, the driver advocacy group said, "Red light cameras across the country have often been highly controversial as they have clearly been designed to generate revenue with safety as a mere side beneficiary.  Camera programs have been installed and then turned off and even re-instated in some localities."

AAA Mid Atlantic said they will watch to see how Richmond Police handle the new technology.

There are currently no red light cameras in Henrico or Chesterfield, and officials in both counties said there have not been any discussions about installing them.

Richmond Police said last year Hull Street and Elkhardt Road had the highest number of traffic incidents of any intersection in the city.  Since the cameras went up and January, police said they have already seen a decrease in wrecks at the intersection, even though the cameras have not be activated.

There are 8 other intersections in Richmond where safety cameras are already installed.  Police did not have a timetable for when those will be functional.