In Boulder, twelve intersections are automatically “policed” by red-light cameras. The city now has a total of 12 cameras as part of the Vision Zero action plan. Selection was based on traffic data that identifies the number of vehicles in a day, areas with the most violations, and the significantly increased chances of accidents.
The intersections where the city has posted red light cameras have seen a sharp drop in violations since the program first started in 1998. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, red-light cameras reduced red light running crashes in large cities by 21 percent. All types of collisions at traffic lights decreased by 14 percent.
The IIHS touts the success with the proviso, “when properly implemented.”
Therein lies the problem. At any time, one of the dozen red-light cameras can malfunction. The most minor glitch can lead to an expensive traffic ticket or legal consequences more severe if an accident occurs.
An equally prominent opponent of automated law enforcement is the National Motorists Association, claiming that traffic flows will likely experience interruptions. Even worse, sudden stops could lead to rear-end collisions that could result in injury or death, putting in question how safe the cameras would be. Simply put, those who run red lights habitually will continue that practice, even with the presence of signs notifying them.
The revenue stream is also a source of controversy, referred to as a “tax” by detractors. Revenue streams are in the millions of dollars, not counting revenue yet to come in due to unpaid citations.
Running red lights is one of Boulder’s most common causes of traffic crashes. In addition to severe injuries that can occur, life-changing criminal charges can result in lengthy prison sentences. Misdemeanor and felony allegations of all forms do not mean that convictions are automatic. Regardless of the severity, the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney can make a difference.