The light turns red, but a car fails to stop. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Crash. The Tennessean reports that Murfreesboro, Tn., police Officer Dan Schobert saw the whole thing, even though he wasn’t there. It’s his job to view images captured by the city’s new red-light camera systems installed at seven intersections. Schobert will send the picture to the car’s registered owner – along with a $50 citation for running the light. There are questions about the effectiveness of using a camera to do a job traditionally reserved for a police officer. Lawsuits have been filed, but a state appeals court found the cameras constitutional. Motorists who run red lights cause more than 100,000 crashes and about 1,000 deaths per year in the U.S., says the Federal Highway Administration. An agency study said cameras reduce right-angle accidents, which are more likely to be fatal, but they can cause rear-end collisions.
Gallatin, Tn., which has used the cameras since 2006, saw a 25 percent decrease in vehicle crashes at intersections with the red-light camera systems. “What does that tell you, folks?” Police Chief John Tisdale asked of his officers at a criminal data meeting. “Behavior is changing. That’s exactly what we’re after.” None of the tickets mailed out in Murfreesboro has been challenged. Since July 5, 8,025 photos have been taken of suspected red-light runners; exceptions, such as emergency vehicles and cars turning on red, reduced the number of issued tickets to 2,691. Only 387 of those have been paid.