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News Nearby: State Rep. Introduces Red Light Camera Legislation

State Rep. Paul Costa said the cameras have already been proven to help save lives in the Philadelphia area.

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.

Peters Resident August 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Mr. Costa, who wrote the legislation? Who contributed to your campaign? American Traffic Solutions (ATS) maybe? There is no need for theses cameras, this is a solution looking for a problem. Companies like ATS who stand to gain a large amount of revenue from these cameras have been found to manipulate yellow light timings to increase revenue and they ignore independent studies that have shown these cameras decrease public safety by causing rear end collisions. Don't by the safety concerns, it's all about revenue for the city and companies like ATS. Don't believe me, see what cities like Houston, TX are going through now. www.TheNewspaper.com.
Marc August 16, 2011 at 01:38 PM
YEP!!! Follow the money, indeed. Mr. Costa, can't you fine more urgent and important matters to more wisely utilize your time? Since YOU work for ME, and I pay YOUR salary and PERKS, how about tackling education funding, protecting the public from Marcellus drilling devastation to our health, welfare, and environment, crime, etc. Don't waste time on frivolous ideas whose main intention is to once again, rape the public's wallets without any recourse for defense. I agree with the impartial independent studies that validate the fact that these cameras cause rear-end collisions. Mr. Costa, do your homework!
Stephen August 16, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Using that "IIHS" study is no different than buying Snake OIL. Read here folks: http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/33/3392.asp The IIHS report, however, did not actually consider a single red light camera accident. Instead, the Insurance Institute looked at the raw number of intersection fatalities in 62 large US cities and divided them into a group of 14 localities where red light cameras were installed and a group of 48 camera-free cities. For each group, accidents in the "before" period of 1992 to 1996 were compared with an "after" period of 2004 to 2008. IIHS claimed that fatal "red light" crashes (defined as any intersection crash except a rear end collision) dropped 35 percent in the after period for the cities that happened to have cameras but only dropped 14 percent in the after period. The results reflect citywide accident numbers, not figures at photo enforced locations. The problem with this overly simplistic method is that it credits red light cameras with accident reductions that take place at intersections without any cameras. It also ignores the natural reduction in fatality rates that happens as automobiles become more crashworthy and hospital trauma care improves over time. Overall, between 1992 and 2008, the fatality rate nationwide dropped 28 percent. The rate is down 35 percent in 2009, representing the lowest rate since records were first kept in 1950. FIGHT THE SCAM! BAN THE CAMS! www.motorists.org www.banthecams.org camerafruad
James C. Walker August 16, 2011 at 03:01 PM
In almost every case, longer yellow intervals on the lights reduce red light violations by MORE than ticket cameras. Cities and states that really want to improve safety use this proven engineering change to reduce violations and accident risks. States and cities that want to collect revenue at the expense of better safety use predatory red light cameras instead of improving safety with longer yellow intervals. The vote of the legislature on this issue will tell PA citizens which is more important to legislators in the state -- safety or predatory revenue collection. See our website for the science and many articles that prove it. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org, Ann Arbor, MI

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