State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, is working to bring red light cameras to the Pittsburgh region in an effort to save lives and reduce the number of accidents across the state.
A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concludes that during a 1996 to 2004 pilot study of red light cameras in 14 large cities, fatal crashes were reduced by 24 percent. Philadelphia was one of the cities in the study.
The option of installing the automated cameras at red lights would be up to individual municipalities should the bill eventually become law. It also would have to be individually approved at each location by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
“One of my suggestions would be at Forbes and Dallas avenues,” Costa said of the immediate area. “I grew up in that area and I have known my whole life that if you’re on Dallas, you better wait a second because too many times people have run that that red light at Forbes Avenue.”
The red light cameras include two different sensors—one at the beginning of an intersection and one halfway through the road. When a light turns red, a moving car going through the intersection will trigger the sensors, causing the device to take two pictures—one of the vehicle and one of the license plate.
“A ticket will be issued to the owner of that vehicle similar to a parking ticket,” Costa said. “The person that drove the car doesn’t get the ticket—it’s the owner of the car.”
To those who dispute the cameras, Costa has an answer.
“It’s not about big brother—it’s protecting people’s lives,” Costa said.
On a stretch of road in Philadelphia that Costa described as “McKnight Road on steroids,” a pilot program began during a year that 17 fatalities took place at an intersection there. After the program had finished, that number was reduced to 8 fatalities, he said.
Costa also said the bill isn’t about creating another money-maker for the state.
“It’s supposed to stop people from running red lights and to help save lives,” he said.
Costa’s legislation would allow second-class and second-class A cities (Pittsburgh and Scranton) and all third-class cities the option of using red light cameras at some intersections, according to a news release.
A locally appointed system administrator and the secretary of transportation would have to agree upon the locations for the red light cameras and public notices would have to be posted listing locations for all area residents.
The legislation originally was introduced by Costa in the 2009-10 legislative session (H.B 2498), but never received House consideration. Costa believes that with the release of the study from Philadelphia, there is a greater possibility to advance the issue this session.
This story originally appeared on Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch.