Perry looking into traffic camera systems

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Journal Staff Writer

Imagine this.

Itís 1 a.m. and you really donít see any reason to stop for that red light at the intersection of Perry Parkway and Ga. 41.

Or you know that caution light is about to change to red at Washington and Commerce, but there arenít any cops in sight so you speed up.

Now imagine this.

A month later you get a traffic ticket in the mail, with color photos attached. They caught you red-handed on a high resolution digital camera that zooms intersection images straight to a Perry Police Department computer screen.

Or imagine this.

Youíre a law-obeying driver and another driver runs a red light and crashes into your car. There arenít any witnesses, but you can thank your lucky stars that thereíll be a complete video record of the accident showing exactly what happened.

Is this far in the future?

Not at all. Countless cities around the country have already installed red light photo enforcement safety programs, and Perry could be next.

At this point, according to Public Safety Director George Potter, Redflex Traffic Systems has made a presentation to the cityís public safety oversight committee and is scheduled to do a survey of traffic flow at several city intersections and come up with a plan for Perry.

ďThe number one goal is safety,Ē Potter said, noting that the Perry Parkway intersection with Houston Lake Road has been the site of three fatalities. That intersection will be among a number to be surveyed.

Once the camera system is installed, a computer program will go into operation that allows monitoring of all the intersections, and keeps a complete file to be used later to determine the cause of accidents or just to catch drivers who ran red lights.

Regarding the cost, Potter says that the program, if approved by Perry City Council, will pay for itself through the increase in traffic fines.

In Savannah, for example, a camera installation at one busy intersection resulted in 14,000 tickets in 15 months, generating $700,000 in traffic fine revenues. For those who run red lights and are caught by cameras, thereís bad news and good.

The bad news is that thereís no way to argue with a high resolution photo of your car tag, and youíll face a fine. Also, you wonít be able to use the excuse that somebody else was doing the driving. Potter plans to ask the City Council to pass a law which will make the owner of the vehicle responsible for the fine, regardless of whoís at the wheel.

The good news is that if you ran a red light and there wasnít any collision as a result, points wonít go on your driving record with the Ga. Dept. of Motor Vehicles.