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Red Light Cameras Could Return to Fairfax County

Supervisors directed staff Tuesday to examine costs and benefits of a launching another red light camera program, which reduced violations by 45 percent during its first run a decade ago.

Though they've been gone for more than half a decade, red light cameras could return to Fairfax County.

The county's board of supervisors asked staff Tuesday to study how much it would cost to bring back camera enforcement for select red lights in the county, and where cameras could be effective.

The former red light camera program, implemented at 10 intersections from 2002 to June 2005, was successful, but costly:.

That figure, Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully), should indicate this isn't a move to generate more revenue, but instead, make roads safer. 

“That’s the point,” he said. “Raising revenue isn’t.”

Frey’s renewed interest in the program was sparked following the release of a January 2013 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on red light camera successes in Arlington.

A year after installing cameras at four dangerous intersections in June 2010, Arlington officials saw the likelihood of violations occurring .5 seconds after the light turned red was down 39 percent.

Violations occurring 1 second after the light turned red were 48 percent less likely, and those occurring 1.5 seconds after a red – the most dangerous – were 86 percent less likely.

At one point, Vienna had speed cameras, but they were removed five years ago, Officer Gary Lose told Patch recently.

Fairfax County’s old program saw a dip in revenue because drivers became more aware of the cameras as citations were doled out to violators. .

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) agreed that the safety benefits of restoring camera enforcement were certainly worth looking into.

“If you sit at any red light and wait to make a left turn, you will see red light runners, and it is a risk,” Hudgins said, adding that the number of police officers available for enforcement was minimal.

It's also another way to "ensure safety without adding police officers,” Frey said.

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