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Abington Red Light Camera Update

Though the Abington Board of Commissioners approved three intersections for red light cameras, don’t expect them anytime soon.

A red light camera in Philadelphia. Credit: Mischa Arnosky
A red light camera in Philadelphia. Credit: Mischa Arnosky

The Abington Police Department recently received bids from three “red light camera” vendors, but the township must wait for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation before it can continue with its red light camera program.

Abington Township Manager Michael LeFevre said Monday that the police department received bids from three different red light camera vendors last week. Those companies happen to be the same companies that responded to proposals from Springfield, Delaware County for its red light camera program.

According to LeFevre, the winning vendor will foot the cost of the equipment and installation; since the red light program in Abington will be revenue neutral, the winning vendor would receive a flat fee each month regardless of the amount of citations issued and any funds in excess of running the program will be remitted back to the state.

But, before the program can get rolling, LeFevre said PennDOT must first issue signal permits for each of the proposed three intersections to receive the red light cameras. They are:

  • Old York and Susquehanna road
  • Moreland and Fitzwatertown roads 
  • Old Welsh and Old York roads

PennDOT has the final say on whether the intersections meet the criteria to receive a camera, LeFevre said; he added that he doesn’t know when PennDOT will issue the signal permits.

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The Abington Board of Commissioners passed the “red light camera ordinance in May. Abington was one of 13 municipalities in Pennsylvania approved to consider red light cameras because of its size and its police department’s accreditation status.

Here are some of the basics:

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
  • There will be a 60-day warning period upon implementation
  • 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

Of note:

  • If the driver can prove that he or she wasn’t driving the vehicle at the time, the driver does not have to say who was driving.
  • An Abington Police officer will review each alleged violation, bringing a human element into the mix … should a first responder or someone in a funeral procession get tagged
  • An Abington Police officer has to sign each citation.
  • The length of a yellow light is calculated by PennDOT and is dependent on a road’s width and speed limit.

According to Abington Police Chief William Kelly, last year there were 1,879 traffic violation-caused crashes, which resulted in 185 injuries and two fatalities. He added that there were 35 crashes in the corner of Moreland and Fitzwatertown roads; 41 crashes in the corner of Old Welsh and Old York roads; and 110 crashes in the corner of Old York and Susquehanna roads. (Neither of the two fatalities happened at any of the above intersections.)

What are your thoughts on having red light cameras in the township?
John DiPrimio July 09, 2013 at 08:09 AM
I'm sure the taxpayers will love the idea of paying, monthly, these camera operators, should the citations not meet the minimum. There are alternative routes to avoid these intersections, use them to avoid either the ticket, or involvement in an accident do to drivers slamming on the brakes when the light turns yellow.
James C. Walker July 09, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Abington residents may also "love" the idea the cameras may well raise the crash rates at camera intersections, as they did in Philadelphia - per Philadelphia Police Department data. The Philadelphia Parking Authority and PennDOT who get to share the money from the red light camera cash registers in Philadelphia say they cut the crash rates. The Philadelphia Police Department which does not share in the loot says the crash rates went up. WHICH data would you believe - from the departments that profiteer with the cameras, or from a police department that does not share in the loot? And notice there is NO mention of increasing the yellow intervals before cameras are installed, a traffic safety engineering change that almost always reduces violations by MORE than ticket cameras. WHY NOT? Because engineering the lights for maximum safety guts the haul of loot from the cameras - and the loot is the real purpose for the cameras. PennDOT will get most of the money, Abington residents will just pay the price for improper traffic light engineering and the risk of increased crash rates. Thanks, Commissioners. NOT. James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association
Elsa Stutman July 09, 2013 at 06:46 PM
I use the corner of Susquehanna and OYR very oftern and have waited thru several light cycles to get to make a left turn. Unless there is an extended left turn signal installed, the red light cameras will get many people for passing a red light just trying to go left t here. The oncoming traffic is so full and fast that one has to wait until they get a red before making the left turn onto Susquehanna from OYR. This is unacceptable!
James C. Walker July 09, 2013 at 08:50 PM
For Elsa Stutman: Red light cameras depend upon poor intersection engineering of many types to make them really profitable. They are predatory money-grab devices, not safety devices. Abington Township may need to vote out every camera supporter in government to get rid of the money-grab machines --- after enough residents get mad enough about the scam for money. James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association
John DiPrimio July 14, 2013 at 09:14 AM
The problems at this intersection could have been addressed by adjusting the yellow light to remain on for a second or two longer. The township chose to avoid this simple fix for a more costly, intrusive, money making alternative. Elsa drive over to Highland or Woodland if you can to avoid this intersection all together. There are ways to bypass the three intersections in question. More to come.
dron29 July 16, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Let's hope a countdown clock is installed informing how long until a red light like in the city. They need change the yellow light time length to the same as New Jersey and less people would run through a red light.
Linux Guy July 16, 2013 at 04:51 PM
You see what the intent seems to be here, since when people bring up adequate engineering, dead silence! Don't want to hear it! If you set the speed limit to the 85th percentile free-flowing traffic speed, make longer yellows, have decent length all-red intervals, and use sensors to keep an all red, you will have no runnings or crashes. If people enter late, they can safely clear. Will tickets go out the instant the red appears? For a non-complete stop for a right-on-red? For stopping a foot or two past the stop line? Also, the intersections start at the curb, not the stop line or crosswalk, so do people know this? For any turn you must slow or yield and the left stop line is way back. You are NOT in the intersection until past the curb line! What is the problem? Just wait until the tickets start rolling in at $100 a pop! If you get one every two months, that is still $600 per year.
waldo von erich July 17, 2013 at 07:18 PM
I understand the need for the safety aspect, but as a taxpayer I have a question ? the red light program in Abington will be revenue neutral? some where down the line I see that the township will be responsible for the cost of this program. Second ? •An Abington Police officer will review each alleged violation,•An Abington Police officer has to sign each citation. Will the winning vendor for this program be paying the police officer's salary ? as citations go , the officer will need to appear in court if the citation is challenged. what is the real cost of doing business with this program ? yes I do understand that the issue is SAFETY .
Willow Grove Baptist Church July 23, 2013 at 05:03 PM
The article clearly stated that PennDOT set the signal durations. Maybe we should tackle THAT problem first. The first thing I thought was to change the signal timing as well.
John DiPrimio October 07, 2013 at 06:30 PM
http://www.houstoncoalition.net/short_video

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