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Arlington To Get Red Light Cameras, But Do They Work?

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Motorists caught by red light cameras in Alexandria will be fined $50.
Jonathan Wilson
Motorists caught by red light cameras in Alexandria will be fined $50.

By Jonathan Wilson

The debate over the effectiveness of red light cameras seems far from settled, but in little more than a week, four new red-light cameras will start snapping pictures in Arlington County, Virginia.

Research has failed to yield a blanket conclusion on whether red-light cameras make roads safer. The Arlington Police Department says the cameras reduce crashes at intersections by 40 percent, and has a positive effect on general driving behavior in the vicinity.

A 2007 report by the Virginia Transportation Research Council showed that while red-light running crashes decrease at monitored intersections, rear-end crashes go up.

Reactions to the new cameras are similarly mixed among drivers in Arlington. Mike O'Connor doesn't think cameras stop habitual red-light runners.

"I think people are going to go through red lights all the same," he says.

Frank Little says accidents will go down once drivers know the camera is there.

"Yeah, there'll be less," Little says. "Like anyone, you know there's a camera and you slow down; you stop running yellow lights."

Signs will warn drivers about monitored intersections. The cameras become operational on June 14th.

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