Most people understand the importance of following traffic laws. Stopping at stop signs and stop lights is vitally important. Some of the most severe vehicle accidents happen when someone runs a stoplight. Because of the seriousness of these offenses, many intersections throughout Pittsburgh have red-light cameras.
These cameras are in place to promote overall traffic safety, and they have been around a while now. Today, we want to talk about what these cameras are for and how they have helped (or hurt) traffic safety.
When did they start using red-light cameras
Red-light cameras went into use in Pittsburgh back in 2013. By a 7-to-2 vote, the city council approved the use of red-light cameras at 20 intersections. The red-light camera network has since expanded.
At the time, most drivers did not worry about the cameras, saying that people running red lights was a regular occurrence.
“A lot of people go through red lights. I just hope they let people pass through yellow lights still,” said Michael Thornhill at the time of the council vote.
Other drivers worried about a sort of “surveillance state” forming in Pittsburgh.
“I think they could be thinking of better ways of handling the situation instead of leaving it up to technology to do it,” said one concerned citizen.
If a person runs a red light, a camera will take a picture, and the license plate will be used to identify the owner of the vehicle. They could be subjected to a $100 fine, though no points are lost on the offender’s license.
The goal is to prevent accidents for various groups
Pennsylvania sees plenty of vehicle accidents each year and areas like Pittsburgh are especially dangerous. During the latest reporting year in Pennsylvania, were 128,188 total crashes reported. Out of those, there were:
- 80,612 total injuries
- 1,137 total fatalities
Allegheny County sees a large percentage of the total crashes in Pennsylvania. During the latest year, the Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas saw a total of 12,470 crashes (that is nearly 10% of all crashes for that year). Out of those, there were 62 fatal crashes and 5,324 injury crashes.
However, it is not just vehicle drivers and their passengers that red light cameras seek to make safer. Motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists are all vulnerable roadway users who are frequently injured at intersections when drivers run red lights.
How are police stops different from red light camera tickets?
If you are pulled over by a police officer for running a stoplight, you can face costly fines and 3 points against your license. This ticket can cause problems like a license suspension and a rise in insurance premiums. A red-light camera ticket is relatively minor compared to an officer-involved traffic stop.
What if the owner of the vehicle was not the one driving?
You may have noticed one flaw – the red light cameras use only the license plate to make a ticket. If a vehicle owner lets someone else drive their vehicle and that person runs a red light, the owner could get stuck with a ticket. If you let someone borrow your car, remind them to be careful.