Selma could use traffic cameras

Published 8:04 pm Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 22 percent of all traffic accidents in this country occur because somebody ran a red light. That translates into about 800 injured each year and about $7 billion in vehicle damage.

Installing traffic cameras at the signals reduces the chances for accidents because it forces the motorist to slow down.

Many cities over the nation have them. Those cities that use the traffic cam report more ticket money going into the city from those who are caught by the cams.

Here’s how it works. The fully automated devices capture all the evidence it can.

Generally the cameras are positioned at the corners of intersections on poles. The cameras can take photographs of vehicles as they travel through the intersection. Photographs of the vehicles’ tags are taken.

If the motorist didn’t run a stop light, nothing happens. If the vehicle took off, the chase is on.

The cost to install the cameras is nothing. The city has to set aside a police officer to look at the tapes and send out citations. The cost of the camera’s operation is included in the fine. The city will take up an undetermined portion of the fine and sent it to the camera operator.

The cameras won’t go all over the city, but will be placed in areas of heavy traffic.

But the city cannot begin to mount the cameras and charge fines for running traffic light until the Alabama Legislature approves a local and private measure to allow the installation and operation of these cameras.

Other cities, such as Montgomery, have used these cameras successfully. The rates of running lights have dropped, city officials said.

It’s time for Selma to work an agreement with one of these companies offering this.