PHILADELPHIA The streets around City Hall produce the most red-light-camera violations - and revenue, AAA Mid-Atlantic says in a new analysis of Philadelphia red-light-camera intersections.
In 2012, the automated cameras resulted in 22,611 tickets to motorists who ran lights at South Broad Street on the south side of City Hall, while the cameras at Broad Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard on the north side were responsible for 20,084 citations, AAA said.
Each ticket carries a $100 fine, so those intersections produced $4.27 million in fines. About 80 percent of fines are collected, according to data from the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which runs the camera program.
The City Hall intersections had relatively few accidents compared with Roosevelt Boulevard, where the city's first cameras were installed in an effort to make the notoriously dangerous highway safer for motorists and pedestrians.
In the last five years, the intersections at City Hall recorded 22 accidents, of which only seven were side-impact or "T-bone" collisions, usually considered the most likely to cause injury at intersections.
By comparison, the intersection at the Boulevard and Levick Street had 56 accidents in five years, of which 26 were side-impact crashes. Red-light cameras at that intersection produced 15,878 citations last year, AAA said.
Philadelphia, which has been steadily adding cameras at intersections throughout the city since its program started in 2005, now has 111 red-light cameras at 25 intersections.
From fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2013, the cameras produced $71.8 million, of which $38.6 million went to pay the camera company, American Traffic Solutions of Tempe, Ariz., and other expenses, leaving $33.2 million to be deposited into a state highway safety fund.
The proceeds are used for highway projects around the state.
As drivers become aware of cameras, violations typically drop at monitored intersections. In Philadelphia, even with new intersections being added each year, the number of violations per camera-monitored intersection dropped from 8,916 in 2008 to 6,280 in 2012, a decline of 29.6 percent.
There is an ongoing debate about the safety value of red-light cameras, with supporters arguing they make busy intersections safer by deterring motorists from running lights and hitting vehicles or pedestrians.
They cite studies such as one by the Pennsylvania State Transportation Advisory Committee, which found a 66 percent reduction in deaths and a 24 percent drop in injuries at Philadelphia intersections with red-light cameras in operation for at least three years.
Opponents say the cameras are simply revenue generators that create more accidents by prompting drivers to slam on their brakes, leading to more rear-end crashes. They also cite studies, such as one by the Virginia Transportation Research Council, that concluded that the contention that cameras reduced injury accidents "was too close to call."
Philadelphia has been the only place in the state allowed to install red-light cameras. But a 2012 state law permits other communities to apply for authority to put in the cameras, and 12 Philadelphia-area towns are eligible: Falls, Middletown and Warminster Townships in Bucks County; Springfield Township in Delaware County; and Norristown and Abington, Horsham, Lower Merion, Lower Providence, Montgomery, Upper Dublin, and Upper Merion Townships in Montgomery County.
Abington is slated to be the first of the suburbs to install the cameras, with three intersections there expected to get cameras by year's end.
New Jersey also has been trying out the cameras in a pilot program involving 83 intersections in 25 towns, including Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, Stratford, Glassboro, Deptford, and Monroe Township in South Jersey.