FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 12, 2001
CONTACT: Eric Skrum, Communications Director
608-849-6000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Red Light Citations Drop Below One Per Day
Increasing Yellow Light Time at Fairfax Red Light Camera Intersection Results in 94 percent Drop in "Red Light Violations."
Eric Skrum, Communications Director for the National Motorists Association said, "Records from Fairfax County show that increasing the time of yellow lights significantly decreases the number of red light violations. The Virginia Department of Transportation increased the yellow time on the traffic lights at US50 and Fair Ridge Drive by 1.50 seconds on March 26, 2001. This increase in yellow time from 4.00 seconds to 5.50 seconds resulted in a 94 percent drop in citations, less than one per day, at this red light camera enforced location."
Skrum continued, "Fairfax County records show that 'events,' red light violations, captured by the camera fell from an average daily rate of 52.1 per day before the yellow time increase to just 2 per day afterwards, a reduction of 94 percent.
"Fairfax County records also show that citations being issued dropped to just 0.82 citations a day on average during the 67 days after the yellow time was increased.
"This camera was activated February 8, 2001 by Lockheed Martin under an agreement with Fairfax County. The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for operating these signals. The decision to install a red light camera at this intersection confirms that this intersection was considered a location of serious violations with increased potential for accidents.
"This experience should prove to any skeptic that sound engineering practices, not only work, but are preferable to exploiting motorists through the use of ticket cameras and related automated enforcement devices," Skrum concluded.
Fairfax County red light camera enforcement records were received from Fairfax County on July 9, 2001 by the National Motorists Association. Those records reflected camera enforcement data through the end of May, 2001 and were the most current and complete records available on the day of receipt (as stated by Fairfax County officials). It should also be noted that the average daily traffic in this intersection is approximately 74,000 vehicles per day.
It should be noted that proponents of red light cameras have been wrongfully using this intersection as an example that lengthening yellow light times has a minimal safety effect. They claim drivers adjust to the light increase over time.
This is deliberately misleading.
There are various studies that have shown that drivers do not negatively adjust to longer light times. You can find a list of these studies by clicking here.
The intersection of US 50 and Fair Ridge Drive was averaging 250 validated citations per month for the two months before the yellow lights were lengthened. For the next 18 months, the average number of citations was 15 per month, a decrease of 94 percent. The camera was then taken offline for eight months.
The cameras were then reactivated. During the subsequent 17 months, the average number of validated citations has been 26 per month.
This may be higher than 15 per month, but it is drastically lower than 250 per month, which is what it was before the increase in yellow light time.
This is still a 90 percent decrease in violations since the yellow lights were lengthened 43 months earlier.
Additionally, none of these numbers take into account traffic volume. This is an area that is experiencing very rapid population growth, which would suggest that the traffic volume is up. This could explain the slight increase.
The NMA opposes the use of red light cameras and proposes engineering solutions as the real fix for intersections with high accident rates.