Red-light cameras may expand to Philly suburbs

    Philadelphia is no longer the only city in Pennsylvania allowed to install red-light cameras. In about three months, the cameras will be legal in some of the city’s suburbs as well as Pittsburgh.

    There are two arguments for the red-light cameras.

    The state Senate’s big supporter of expanding their use, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, picks the purer one.

    “These programs, when properly run and administered, save lives,” says Pileggi, R-Delaware.

    But critics question whether the cameras are being approved not just because they’re safety enhancers, but money makers.

    Russ Rader, with the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, doesn’t shy away from that association.

    “Red light cameras raise revenue because a lot of people break the law. In many ways cameras are the best type of enforcement because the people who break the law fund the program,” Rader said. “So they’re not funded by general tax revenue.”

    Money generated from fines on photographed red-light runners will fund road safety projects, but such grants can be awarded anywhere in the state, not just in those cities with the cameras.

    Philadelphia’s red-light camera program had been scheduled to expire this year.

    Now, Philadelphia, some of its suburbs, and Pittsburgh can apply to PennDOT to install red light cameras through the year 2017.

    Those towns include Falls, Middletown and Warminster in Bucks County; Springfield in Delaware County; Norristown, Abington, Horsham, Lower Merion, Lower Providence, Montgomery, Upper Dublin and Upper Merion in Montgomery County.

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