The intersection at Holland and Rosemont roads was among four in Virginia Beach where cameras photographed vehicles that failed to stop for red lights. Charlie Meads/The Virginian-Pilot
VIRGINIA BEACH � In the six months since Virginia Beach was forced to turn off its red-light cameras, the number of drivers who have run red lights at four busy intersections has doubled, police report.
Police brass, traffic safety advocates and some elected officials are using this data from Virginia Beach as ammunition in a new push to allow the cameras again.
This month, the issue will be re-introduced in the General Assembly.
The data come from loop sensors embedded in the pavement at four accident-prone intersections where the cameras were used. The sensors were part of the photo-monitoring system, triggering the cameras. They continue to count violations, even though the cameras are turned off.
Virginia Beach is the only municipality that still collects red-light data among the seven cities, counties and towns that formerly operated the cameras.
The first Virginia Beach cameras were installed at one intersection in late 2004. Eventually, cameras were installed at four intersections. Violators received $50 tickets in the mail � civil penalties that did not trigger demerits against the driver�s license and did not carry insurance liability.
Working a split-second after a traffic light turned red, the cameras took video and photographs of the vehicle and its license plate as it entered an intersection.
Police were forced to turn off the cameras on June 30 after action by the General Assembly.
Virginia Beach was the only locality in Hampton Roads with red-light cameras. More than a dozen states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia use the technology.
Police Officer Ryan Arnold, who runs Virginia Beach�s �PhotoSafe� program, said the new push to turn the cameras back on comes at a good time.
The number of red-light runners at the four intersections rose to 1,056 in November from 488 in June , Arnold said.
During the peak of the cameras� use in February, the city reported a 70 percent reduction in red-light violations at Holland and Rosemont roads.
All together, the city mailed 17,315 tickets to motorists during the nine months that the red-light cameras were used.
Virginia Beach Police Chief A.M. �Jake� Jacocks Jr. lauded the program. He believes the cameras reduced collisions, injuries and property damage.
The city installed the cameras at four intersections: Holland and Rosemont; Independence and Virginia Beach boulevards; Indian River Road and Military Highway; and Kempsville and Indian River roads.
In calling for legislation to restore the cameras last month, Jacocks said the numbers indicate that drivers changed their behavior after the cameras went dark.
Del. Harry �Bob� Purkey, R-Virginia Beach, will sponsor legislation in Richmond to bring back the cameras. He said he is not sure whether it will pass this session.
Last year, lawmakers buried the pilot program partly because critics objected that the cameras impinged on drivers� privacy rights, partly because critics said the cameras caused more rear-end crashes.
Del. H. Morgan Griffith, the House majority leader from the Roanoke area, was one of the chief opponents of red-light cameras. He could not be reached for comment.
Purkey said running red lights �is almost a sport� in parts of Virginia Beach, and red-light cameras will save lives.
If Purkey�s bill fails, the delegate said he would consider a different version to allow cameras in Virginia Beach only for two years.
Later, Purkey said, lawmakers could choose to allow the cameras statewide. �You take what you can get,� he said.
Reach Duane Bourne at (757) 222-5150 or at email@example.com.