Swampscott KO's red light cameras
By Debra Glidden
Friday, October 20, 2006
SWAMPSCOTT - Installing red light camera systems at intersections in town could lead to an increase in the number of rear-end collisions, according to a study committee.
The Red Light Traffic Study Committee, which prepared a 71-page report it presented to the Board of Selectmen, voted 5-to-0against installing the cameras in town.
According to the report, which relied heavily on data from communities that are already using the technology and the Department of Transportation, red light cameras are most effective at intersections where there are a lot of angle impact crashes.
Committee member Randy Chapman said there are not any intersections in town that have a lot of angle impact crashes.
"Red light cameras are generally not appropriate for intersections where a major road meets a side street or parking lot because of the low likelihood of angle crashes," he said.
According to Chapman, there are only an average of three angle crashes in town each year and there are approximately five rear-end collisions.
"The use of red light cameras has resulted in an increase of rear-end crashes," he said. "Since red light cameras can result in an increase in rear-end accidents, their installation may actually create a public safety problem where one did not exist."
Chapman said while safety was the main factor in the decision not to recommend installation of the cameras several other issues were also taken into account.
Companies install and maintain the systems at no cost to the town and the town would receive a percentage of monies collected from violators.
After cameras are installed the company monitors them and when there is a violation the company sends a copy of the violation, video footage and still photographs to the police department.
According to Town Accountant David Castellerin, the town could receive up to $400,000 in additional revenue from citations issued by camera systems, but the study committee said it did not have enough information to make an educated guess as to how much revenue the system would actually generate.
Despite the recommendations of the committee, Town Meeting members will be asked to give the green light to red light traffic cameras at a special Town Meeting on Nov. 13. Town Meeting put the brakes on the technology at the annual Town meeting in May but town officials, who are vocal proponents of the plan, created the study committee to take another look at the issue and report back to Town Meeting. Technically, the Board of Selectmen, which also serves as traffic commissioners in town, could approve the installation of red light cameras without going to Town Meeting. Board of Selectmen Chairman Marc Paster said because Town Meeting has already tackled the issue of red light cameras once it is only fair to go back to Town Meeting.