The City of Wilmington hopes increased cameras and signage at intersections will reduce traffic light violations.
On Monday, the city released the first report of the Traffic Light Signal Violation System Program for fiscal year 2014.
Launched in 2001, Wilmington uses the program to better understand how to reduce crashes, aid in the assignment of police officers and avoid costs associated with traffic crashes caused by violations of red light traffic laws.
While overall crashes increased in a one year period, the city says awareness of the penalties will change driver behavior.
“Red light safety cameras help reduce vehicle collisions by changing driver behavior, which is one of the primary reasons that contribute to crashes caused by motorists running a red light,” said Mayor Dennis Williams, D-Wilmington, in a statement.
“This safe and consistent enforcement prevents these sorts of car accidents and increases driver safety.”
According to AAA, in 2012 683 people were killed and an estimated 133,000 were injured in crashes that involved running a red light in the U.S.
Federal Highway Administration research estimates the cost of a fatal car crash is between $5 million and $5.4 million. Injury related traffic crashes are estimated to cost $500,000 to $540,000 and property damage only crashes are estimated to cost from $25,000 and $28,000, according to AAA.
The city says to eliminate the deaths, injuries and costs related to traffic light violations, they have set up 34 cameras at 31 signalized intersections. The report, produced by the Wilmington Police and Finance Departments and its partner Xerox, gives an overview of traffic light violations in Wilmington.
“This program is not about revenue generation for the city. It is about reducing crashes, changing driver behavior so we can avoid crashes caused by red light violations,” said Director of Finance for Wilmington Sheila Winfrey Brown.
However, according to the report, crashes due to traffic light violations have increased over the years. During fiscal year 2013, crashes at all intersections totaled 190. During fiscal year 2014, there were 200 crashes or a 5.26 percent increase over 2013.
Of the 200 crashes in fiscal year 2014, the most accident-prone area was W. 2nd Street westbound at N. Adams Street with 14 total – a slight decrease from the previous year’s 15.
The results show the biggest decrease in crashes was at 11th Street eastbound at N. Church Street, from 17 to nine. While the biggest increase was at 4th Street westbound at N. Washington Street, increasing from one to seven.
According to the report, there were 25,022 incidents when a driver ran through a red light. Of those incidents, the majority happened at S. Walnut Street northbound at E. 2nd Street with over 4,000 violations, which was an increase from more than 3,000 during the previous year.
Yet intersections that had cameras in both directions saw a more significant decrease between fiscal year 2013 and fiscal year 2014. For example, Concord Avenue at N. Broom Street northbound and southbound saw six less crashes.
Future reports will be even more detailed, expanding data from just total crashes to crash type. The city will also continue to view some of the videos and work with Public Works to post additional signage.
Despite the overall increase in traffic light violations for 2014, Brown says they’ve seen a significant amount of reductions in the fiscal year 2015 report, which will be released in January.
She said she believes signage indicating there’s a camera has changed driver behavior. The fine for running a red light or not coming to a full stop before making a right turn on red in Wilmington is $110.
“We think diver behavior has changed and we know our drivers continue to obey driver laws as we do,” Brown said. “If we can change one driver’s behavior that makes a difference.”