10/21/2020Fayetteville, North Carolina Red Light Cameras Fail To Cut Accidents
City council report showed that red light cameras in Fayetteville, North Carolina did not reduce accidents.
After five years of use, red light cameras in Fayetteville, North Carolina, have failed to produce the promised reduction in traffic accidents. Since 2015 the city has allowed private vendor Verra Mobility (formerly American Traffic Solutions) to issue automated tickets under a new ordinance, yet the number of collisions climbed where the devices were used. Data released by the city council last week compared collision figures two years prior to installation and two years afterward.
Sometimes the cameras have presented a direct threat to motorists in Fayetteville. In 2011, a 24-year-old woman was struck and killed by a Fayetteville red light camera that fell on the car in which she was a passenger. Under the current photo enforcement program, Verra Mobility has issued a total of 125,921 tickets worth over $12.5 million at a dozen intersections. The raw figures show thirty more accidents occurred after the cameras became active. These were not "minor fender benders" as the severity index in the North Carolina Department of Transportation accident database reflected a small increase in severity. Both angle crashes and rear end collisions increased, though the percentage increase was not statistically significant.
The return of stop light cameras has been controversial in the Tar Heel State. Fayetteville joined cities throughout the state -- including Cary, Charlotte, Greenville, Greensboro, High Point and Rocky Mount -- in dumping red light cameras after the courts in 2007 made the use of red light cameras unprofitable. The North Carolina Supreme Court let stand a decision directing all red light camera revenue to the state school system (read final opinion) because that is where the state constitution requires the "clear proceeds" of all fines to go.
To get around the constitutional mandate, the state legislature created a revenue sharing arrangement using local laws that authorized the money to be sent to the schools before being redistributed back to the private vendor. In 2018, for example, the red light cameras in Fayetteville generated $2.5 million for the local school district and $800,000 for Verra Mobility. Under the 90 percent rule under the state constitution, the schools should have received $3 million and Verra Mobility $250,000.