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Look! They're watching you

Motorists driving through the intersection will soon have to watch the red light or fork out the green. A new and fully automated red-light camera was set up in Rome and is keeping an eye on the intersection in all four directions. Drivers who find themselves in the intersection after the light is red will be issued a $70 ticket after a 30-day warning period ends. After that, drivers who find themselves in the intersection under a red light will get a ticket. “Safety is the No. 1 goal,” said a City Manager. “We hope to raise driver awareness and eliminate serious accidents at that intersection.” Traffic tickets will arrive by mail, two or three weeks after the pictures have been reviewed by police officers, along with a photograph of the red-light violation. The four cameras at Highway and Boulevard cover all four approaches. “A lot of people worry, but you only receive a ticket if you’re past the stop bar, after it turns red,” said the City Manager. Red light running is one of the major causes of crashes, deaths, and injuries at signalized intersections. Most recent crash statistics show that nearly 1,000 Americans were killed and 176,000 were injured in 2003 due to red light running related crashes. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) support a comprehensive approach to intersection safety that incorporates engineering, education, and enforcement countermeasures to prevent red light running and improve intersection safety. Red light cameras can be a very effective countermeasure to prevent red light running. There are a number of studies that indicate reduction in crashes at signalized intersections due to red light cameras. NHTSA is promoting red light cameras as one of its identified priority, market-ready safety technologies. The use of camera systems for the enforcement of red light violations at signalized intersections is increasingly widespread. State and local agencies have found that the use of red light camera systems can reduce red light running by motorists and, more importantly, reduce the number of crashes attributable to red light violations. Red light camera project program implementation A red light camera system is one of the measures available to traffic engineering, enforcement, and safety professionals, that when properly applied, may be effective in the reduction of certain types of collisions at signalized intersections. Red light camera systems have had the greatest success and highest levels of support in communities where they have been implemented as one element of an overall traffic safety management program. There are several key steps to successfully implementing a red light camera system program. The development of a successful red light camera program will be based on the systematic analysis of crash data, together with data on citations issued to motorists for red light running, where available, and inputs from the general public. The objective is to identify locations where red light running by motorists is contributing to crashes. The key elements recommended for the early planning and startup of a red light camera program are as follows: Establish a Steering Committee. Establish Program Objectives. Identify the Legal Requirements. Assess System Procurement Alternatives. Establish Public Awareness and Information Campaign. Steering Committee of Stakeholder Group Representatives Any community considering the implementation of a red light camera system should first establish a steering committee inclusive of all stakeholders. A high level of quality control and on-going coordination of activities is required for the operation and maintenance of photo enforcement systems. The program also has significant visibility with the community at large and with their elected officials that require coordination to effectively communicate the program’s objectives and program results. Early on the Steering Committee should define as clearly as possible the red light camera program objectives. While it is clear that the overall objective of any red light camera program is the reduction of collisions at signalized intersections resulting from red light running, program objectives should address specific operational needs. How Red-light Cameras Work Red-light systems rely on some sophisticated technology, but conceptually they are very simple. The system includes only three essential elements: One or more cameras One or more triggers A computer Multiple cameras are mounted high above the intersection to get a full view of any traffic violators. See more red-light camera pictures. In a typical system, cameras are positioned at the corners of an intersection, on poles a few yards high. The cameras point inward, so they can photograph cars driving through the intersection. Generally, a red-light system has cameras at all four corners of an intersection, to photograph cars going in different directions and get pictures from different angles. Some systems use film cameras, but most newer Operation and Maintenance As with any integrated system, every element of a red light camera system should function properly for the system to produce the desired results. In addition to proper design and installation, procedures to ensure the proper operation and maintenance of the system should be developed and implemented. Red light camera system operations and maintenance should include the following tasks and functions: Collect images of recorded violations and related violations data from photo-enforced intersections. Inspect camera and vehicle detection system operations. Perform preventative maintenance and cleaning. Identify defective equipment and make repairs or replace the equipment. Store recorded violations data. Review recorded violations data to identify violations. Identify vehicle registered owner. Prepare draft citations for review and approval. Prepare and mail citations to vehicle registered owners. Answer telephone inquiries. Schedule violator appointments. Process vehicle registered owner certifications regarding driver identity at the time of the violation. Provide court-requested information and support court hearings. Prepare monthly progress reports.

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