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. 

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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