Crashes increase at red-light camera intersections in Jacksonville

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Channel 4 reports that there have been more crashes since red-light cameras were installed at dozens of Jacksonville intersections.   Sheriff John Rutherford defends the statistics but saying  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

STATS: Red-light camera crash analysis by intersection (http://www.news4jax.com/blob/view/-/29105800/data/1/-/oc1il/-/Red-light-camera-analysis.pdf)

Rutherford acknowledged in his press conference  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.”

The Sheriff’s Office began its red-light camera program in 2012 and has 26 cameras in operation. Redflex Traffic Systems of Arizona installed and maintains the cameras as well as sends notice of the $158 violations to motorists.  Rutherford said he’s never been worried about how much revenue the camera system would bring in since the contract makes sure the taxpayers “never pay a dime.” But he said revenue is about $370,000 from tickets since they began citing drivers.

Sheriff Rutherford provided the information to make people understand that people will be stopping now at red lights because the number of violations are down significantly.  The Times Union reports that in educating people, JSO has begun posting a “Red Light Runner of the Week” video of near-misses at one of these camera-equipped intersections on YouTube and its Facebook page. That is part of an education and awareness campaign to show “how flagrant” some of these violations are and what JSO is trying to prevent.

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