Cameras soon to spot red-light runners in Swamspcott
By Debra Glidden
Monday, April 3, 2006
SWAMPSCOTT -- Motorists who run red lights in town could find themselves caught in the act by a new technology.
Town Meeting, which gets under way May 15, will decide whether to adopt a bylaw allowing a new technology to be installed in town that would capture red-light violators on camera.
Police Lt. Thomas Stephens said he had some reservations about the Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., but after attending a comprehensive seminar last year, he is convinced it is a useful tool that would enhance traffic safety.
"It is an effective deterrent to people who run lights," Stephens said.
"Signs are posted at intersections that are monitored by cameras. We're not trying to trick people and don't care if we don't write one ticket. We don't want people running red lights."
Redflex Traffic Systems has several different types of technology. Stephens said Reflexred, which is one of the systems being considered, photographs cars going through intersections and Redflexspeed targets speeders.
"I was very impressed with the clarity of photos," Stepjhens said.
"The photographs clearly show the car, the license plate and the speed it travels through the red light. It also tell us how much time the light was red before it was run."
Stephens said the system has a proven track record for reducing traffic violations.
"When people know they are being photographed they tend to approach intersections more carefully. My first inclination would be to put it at the intersections in Vinnin Square because we've had tragedies there before and there is a high volume of traffic," he said.
Stephens said after cameras are installed the company monitors them. When there is a violation the company sends a copy of the violation, video footage and still photographs to the police department.
He said local police would review the evidence and decide whether a citation should be issued. He said if an ambulance ran the light or a motorist stopped a couple of feet beyond the stop line, the department could opt not to send out a citation.
Stephens said motorists who are ticketed for running a red light or speeding would receive points on their license, which could affect insurance rates, but that is not the case with the camera system. He said citations sent using a camera system are treated like a parking ticket and do not show on an operator's license or get sent to registry.
Chief Ronald Madigan said he believes the camera system would increase compliance with traffic laws and improve safety.
"From everything I've seen I think it's a positive thing for the town," Madigan said.
Town Administrator Andrew Maylor said Maylor said Redflex Traffic Systems would install and maintain the cameras at no cost to the town. He said the company would take a percentage of the money from the citations and the town would receive the rest.