VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – There are red light cameras installed at intersections across Hampton Roads. They are meant to help keep the public safe, but one group claims they are actually an added danger for drivers, with a dollar amount attached.
“Virginia Beach is just fighting to keep the cameras in operation with false data solely for the money,” Jim Walker told 10 On Your Side. “The red light cameras are set up so that they issue most of the violations to very safe drivers who endangered absolutely no one. If the cameras only ticketed the dangerous drivers they’d lose a fortune because the cameras are very expensive to operate. It’s a common enough occurrence to be a known phenomenon that installing red light cameras raises the crash rates at camera intersections.”
The National Association of Motorists claims the number of injury crashes at the 13 camera-enforced intersections in Virginia Beach is nearly 20 percent greater than it would have been if they had never been installed. But the city says those claims couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Unfortunately he just doesn’t have a valid study. It’s just invalid science,” said Robert Gey, Traffic Engineer for Virginia Beach. “I understand the theory and I understand what he’s saying but we’re not seeing it. Lots of different things are going on and lots of different things are changing and they happen regardless of the program.”
Drew Lankford with the Virginia Beach Department of Public Works released the following statement:
Bahen’s study is questionable for a number of reason, mainly because his comparisons are invalid since the factors involved differ greatly from what the City is required to take into account. He ignores other factors such as weather conditions, the huge increase in drivers using their cell phones while driving, and other conditions. He ignores the fact that these cameras are put at high-risk intersections for a reason. His factors are very restricted and narrow, and he tries comparing apples to pineapples. As a result, he has presented a situation where he starts with a conclusion and looks for facts that will back up his conclusion. The results are a very inaccurate picture of what is actually taking place.
Here are the locations of the monitored intersections:
1. Virginia Beach Blvd (west) at Independence Blvd (north)
2. Indian River Rd (west) at Kempsville Rd (north)
3. Indian River Rd (west) at Military Hwy (south)
4. Holland Rd (east & west) at Rosemont Rd
5. General Booth Blvd (south) at Dam Neck Rd (east)
6. Virginia Beach Blvd (east) at Great Neck Rd (south)
7. Princess Anne Rd (north) at Lynnhaven Pkwy
8. Princess Anne Rd (south) at Dam Neck Rd
9. Independence Blvd (north) at Bonney Rd (west)
10. Lynnhaven Pkwy (south) at International Pkwy
11. London Bridge Rd (north) at Dam Neck Rd
12. Northampton Blvd (south) at Diamond Springs Rd
13. Baxter Rd (east) at Independence Blvd
10 On Your Side took a closer look at the system causing all the controversy. Each ticket for a red light violation with the Redflex Traffic System in Virginia Beach is only $50. But the National Association of Motorists points to how quickly that adds up to the city’s benefit. In the last fiscal year the city collected $2,073,970.31 off driver’s mistakes.
“We believe it’s modifying drivers behaviors in a positive way to hopefully positively influence traffic safety in the city of Virginia Beach,” said Master Police Officer Paul Graziano. “On average we approve between 30-35% of the activations that we review. If we wanted to go letter of the law we’d probably approve 75 percent or 85 percent.”
He says those are usually the most dangerous they see, leaving possibly millions more dollars from minor mistakes they could collect drive on. Graziano says they’re just not in the business to approve everything for money.