Abington Closer to Red Light Cameras

Love them or hate them, red light cameras may be on their way to an intersection near you in Abington.


Few things are as infuriating as seeing a bright flash of light behind you after you’ve driven through an intersection; few things are as scary as being involved in a T-bone crash.

Ah, the red light camera debate.

Abington took a step closer yesterday to developing a red light camera ordinance when the public safety committee passed a motion approving, in concept, the red light camera program. The motion directs the township’s administration and its solicitor to develop the specific wording of such an ordinance.

Abington Police Deputy Chief Michael Webb delivered a presentation on the topic. Webb said Abington was one of 13 municipalities in the state approved to consider red light cameras because of its size and its police department’s accreditation status.

The program would be revenue neutral; the vendors receive a flat fee each month and the fee does not correlate to the number of citations issued.

The cameras:

  • Capture the date, time, posted speed, approximate speed of vehicle, color of the light, length of the previous yellow light, length of red signal, and plate
  • Shoot only the rear image of a vehicle
  • Are not permitted to be used for surveillance
  • The Vendor installs, maintains and transfers the images to the Abington Police Department

The fine:

  • Is a civil fine
  • Is $100
  • Does not interfere with insurance premiums
  • Is linked to the vehicle, not the driver
  • Funds in excess of running the program go back to PennDOT for transportation enforcement grants

According to Webb, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation determines which intersections qualify for a red light camera based on congestion, traffic volume and PennDOT crash statistics. There are 12 intersections in the township that meet the criteria for having a red light camera.

The intersection with the dubious distinction of being first on that list?

“For us, probably the ‘poster child’ for a place to put a camera is Old York Road and Susquehanna Road — [it’s] the most challenging intersection we have in Abington with volume congestion and accidents … in addition, there is no place at York and Susquehanna for a police officer to monitor traffic and do enforcement,” Webb said.

The program is not completely automated. If a photograph of a vehicle were taken, it would be sent to Abington Police for review. Webb said the registration tag would be checked against PennDOT records, and police would check to see if there was a funeral, a weather condition or an emergency in the area at the time of the photo. He went on to say that a vehicle would not receive a citation if the vehicle was already in the intersection before the light turned red (for instance, waiting to make a turn).

According to an AP report, a New Jersey study found that intersections equipped with red light cameras saw fewer serious crashes, but those intersections saw a 20-percent increase in rear-end crashes. Webb conceded that there were more rear-end crashes, but said that in Philadelphia, those rear-end collisions curtailed after the first year.

Abington Police Chief William Kelly likened the red light program to getting a parking ticket or getting E-ZPass. Abington Commissioner Steven Kline, who is not on the public safety committee, disagreed.

“I can’t remember ever talking about a systematic red light problem,” Kline said, adding that police officers would better serve the community by combating drivers who speed and blow stop signs in residential areas. 

In mid November, the firm Public Policy Polling asked 900 Montgomery County residents what they thought of red light cameras. Sixty-five percent of Abington residents approve of the cameras; 76 percent of Norristown residents approve; and 63 percent of Lower Merion residents approve. 

Should the township ultimately adopt the program, there would be a 60-day warning period. 

Victor B. Krievins December 06, 2012 at 11:37 AM
We need the red light cameras asap they help reduce the number of traffic accidents case closed!
Crazy D December 06, 2012 at 02:08 PM
We don't need red light cameras but I know it will pass because its all about the money not the accidents. After the cameras are in everyone is slamming on the brakes and you will have more accidents. Next will be stop sign cameras and school zone cameras. It's all about the money. Maybe if I'm on the phone I'll get a ticket in the mail. This is BS.
tedtaylor December 06, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Red light cameras are just another way to make money without a whole lot of effort. My neighbors and I have been complaining for years about the high rate of speed (well in excess of 35 MPH) on Edge Hill Road between Susquehanna and Old Welsh and all we get are excuses. Sadly many of the offenders are township and school district vehicles. With two elementary schools in that stretch it should 25 MPH. Red light cameras are just anothr Abington cop-out so they don't have to any real work. I'm really disappointed in my home town.
tedtaylor December 06, 2012 at 02:25 PM
We don't agree, Victor. It has been shown that traffic lights can be manipulated to snag people (quick yellow to red) and the end result can be rear end collisions. What the municipalities count on is that the "sheep" will get a ticket in the mail and just pay it rather than go through the hassle of a hearing. This is not good.
Jim December 06, 2012 at 06:35 PM
The Abington program will end up focusing on rolling right turn violations. Why? Four weeks ago a respected government-funded study group (National Cooperative Highway Research Program ("NCHRP") of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences) published a study recommending longer minimum yellows. The minimums recommended in the study were 0.4 to 0.6 sec. greater than the present minimums. For example, the present minimum in a 35 zone is 3.6 secs. while the study recommends 4.1 seconds. Right now the average red light violator is about 0.4 sec. late, so the extra time will cut violations by at least half. The NCHRP study also recommended longer yellows for left turns. Instead of the current 3.0 yellow no matter what the posted speed, it recommended longer yellows on streets having higher posted speeds. In a 35 zone the min. yellow for a left turn would be 3.7. An article about the study is at http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/39/3941.asp and the full study is at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrp_rpt_731.pdf . I submit that the City may want to put things on hold until City staff has an opportunity to report to the City Council about the effect the reduced quantity of violations will have on the financial viability of the camera system. Unless the plan, all along, has been to focus on rolling right turn violations, the quantity of which is not much affected by the length of the yellow.
PJ December 06, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I lived in Atlanta when they implemented red light cameras at a busy intersection and it was reported by several local news papers that accidents went up over 35% at that intersection due to people slamming on their brakes when the light turned yellow to avoid getting fined. They do NOT work. Those cameras cost the tax payers millions of dollars and caused way more trouble then they were worth. I hope this goes to a vote before they are purchased and we as residents have the opportunity to vote this ridiculousness down.
PJ December 06, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Here is a link to an article in multiple cities.. including Philadelphia at the ineffectiveness of the cameras. http://www.motorists.org/red-light-cameras/increase-accidents
John Monaghan December 06, 2012 at 08:14 PM
One thing that falls under the category of "be careful what you wish for" is the impact that red light cameras have on funeral processions. State law allows cars in funeral processions to proceed through red lights and stop signs once the lead car and hearse have proceeded through the intersection. Funeral directors in NE Philadelphia have had to go through hoops to get to certain cemeteries without having cars in the procession receivie multiple $100 tickets for a legal funeral procession. Just something to think about.
chris December 06, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I dont have a problem with them and neither should anyone else. Why.. Because FOLLOW the traffic laws and YOU wont get a ticket. If you get nailed by a quick yellow to red, well guess what.. you were either going above the posted speed limit or you werent paying attention. Light changes are based on the speed zone. So FOLLOW the damn traffic laws and stop your bitching.
WINSTON ARCHER December 07, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Chris you are JACKASS. tHIS REDLIGHT CAMERA IS NOTHING MORE THAN PURE GREED,. There are vultures out to gain more money. Most of these firms are very much like crows waiting for the dead. redlight cameras will cause more rear end accidents than preventing them. We in Abington Township are paying much more than most cities where this greed machne is installed. we are up to our neck with the hight taxes so why this?? Pure and simple GREED BY THOSE WHO VOTED FOR THIS... WHAT NEXT?? CAMERA IN OUR DRIVE WAY?? SO THE TOWNSHIP CAN COLLECT MORE FUNDS.wE NEED TO VOTE THESE MONEY HUNGRY PEOPLE WHO WANT THIS GREED MACHINE TOBE INSTALLED.
tedtaylor December 07, 2012 at 01:30 PM
What dreamworld do you live in Chris? The cops seldom ticket people because it's a hassle - if the camera can do it for them it is just a money machine. I live on a speedway in Abington with two elementary schools (35 MPH speed limit) and it is worth your life to cross the street. Everytime my neighbors complain we get a new song and dance routine. I'm all for enforcement of traffic laws, but not just selectively!
chris December 07, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Please..... i drive by 3 cameras a day twice a day, and i have YET to get a ticket over the last 3 years. Why, because i know they are there and i MAKE sure i dont break the law. There is hundreds of thousands of people a day that drive by these cameras and NEVER received a ticket. If you run a red light you DESERVE the ticket! Basically what your saying is, since a cop isnt watching the light themselves its ok to run the light... The technology is dead on, its not like your going to get a ticket for running the green. The FACT is you run the red light you SHOULD get a ticket... plane is simple. Just because a cop didnt catch you DOESNT make it ok.
chris December 07, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Brian Ceccarelli December 08, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Chris, ever run a red light by 1/10th of a second? In all your driving, have you ever approached an intersection just when you were in the wrong place at the wrong time when the light turned yellow and you hesitated whether you should stop or go? You decided to go but ran the light by the blink of eye? The blink of an eye in 1/3 of a second long. The red light camera industry makes 50% of their income off the blink of an eye. The indecision of stop and go is called a "indecision zone" or type II dilemma zone. Dilemma zones are known defects traffic engineer build into every intersection in the world. The defect is caused by a using a math formula for yellow light durations which opposes Newton's Second Law of Motion. The formula also disallows anyone to decelerate AND enter the intersection. When you are approaching an intersection and you are too close to stop, and you see a yellow light, do you slow down? If you slow down, you will run a red light. Now consider turning drivers. Consider that you must enter the intersection but the car in front of your decides to turn into a nearby business entrance. You slow down. These are the problems Chris. It is only a matter of time before you get a ticket. It can take several years before you get one, but it is all a matter of probability. The deck favors the house.
chris December 08, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Yes.. something like that has happen to me... Welsh and the BLVD. Did i receive a ticket? Nope. Brian Ceccarelli, are you a programmer? Do you know how the code works with this program? How many cases in philly do you read about where the person was ticketed for reasons you stated? 0.
Brian Ceccarelli December 08, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Chris. I am a programmer. I do know how the code works with this program. But it is not being a programmer which qualifies me. I graduated in physics. I am the lead plaintiff in a certified class-action lawsuit against Cary, NC. It is because I know the physics required to set yellow durations properly and it is because of the research I have done into the federal standards and red light ticket data which qualifies me. Chris, the first thing I see is engineering incompetence. Engineers use a formula that sets yellow lights to a duration which undermines Newton's Second Law of Motion. The formula, by the laws of universe, physically forces millions of drivers to run red lights each day by up to 4.5 seconds. 83% of red light incursions are under 1 second. 99.9999% under 4.5 seconds. For 35 years I have been driving. I never received a ticket for running a red. The ticket I received from Cary was for running a red light by 1/3 of a second on a signal that was programmed 1/2 second short by NCDOT's own standard. Chris, I have seen the data. Out of 130,000 tickets issued by Cary, Cary could only provide me about 300 tickets which were over 1 second into the red. Out of those, 5 were over 4.5 seconds, and those were for right turns in the middle of the night. The reason why one never reads about blink-of-an-eye violations is because those are bad for business
dee slason May 01, 2013 at 05:19 PM
i'm so surprised winston you have time for this cause you spend 99% of your time cheating on your wife..loser


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