City leaders dump red-light camera program in Raleigh

Tom George Image
Thursday, March 14, 2024
City of Raleigh scrapping red-light camera program
Some major changes are coming for Raleigh drivers after the city said it is removing 25 red-light cameras at locations across the city.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some major changes are coming for Raleigh drivers -- the city said it is decommissioning the 25 red-light cameras at locations across the city.

In about 10 minutes at one of the former locations in downtown Raleigh, Morgan Street and Dawson Street, ABC11 spotted at least three drivers running red lights.

It's enough to make pedestrians like Eli Hartsoe in downtown Raleigh look twice.

"Even when the light comes on telling me that I can walk, I'm always going to wait at least three or four seconds, because more than likely there's going to be somebody blowing through, you know, ignoring the red light that they have," Hartsoe said.

For the past 20 years, the flash would go off and drivers would get tickets, enough to make some pump the brakes.

"I'm terrified of getting a ticket. I don't want to get any ticket," said driver Liam McLeod. "So knowing that there's a red-light camera there, I always stop, even if it's a yellow. There's no point in pushing that."

That's all changing. At its peak recently, the city issued an estimated 30,000 tickets in a single year. Most of that money goes toward funding the project, but any extra goes toward schools. In the past five years, $1.28 million was generated for Wake County Public Schools.

But questions about the cameras' legality have prompted other communities to scrap their red-light cameras, and Raleigh is following suit. City engineers also questioned whether they're changing driver's behavior.

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"It is effective to an extent. It does help reduce angle crashes, but at the same time, it has a tendency to increase rear-end crashes," said Sean Driskill, the program coordinator for the City of Raleigh's Vision Zero program.

Vision Zero is hoping to avoid crashes by instead taking a look at each intersection and adding some new safety features rather than targeting individual drivers' behavior.

"That can include bike-ped signals, crosswalks, back plates, which we have already to install at a number of intersections, high visibility crosswalks, and permanent infrastructure that will have a lasting impact that more than just the 25-inch red light camera intersections that we have," he said.

The city officially stopped issuing citations from the cameras on March 1, and its contract with the company officially ends April 8.