Red light cameras reveal drivers' unsafe habits
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson Police red light cameras are catching more than red light runners. They're catching some blood curdling pics of wrecks and near-wrecks. But does that mean drivers are getting the safety message, or ignoring it?
The idea is you'll watch out for them because they're watching out for you. But TPD video's are frightening proof there's always someone who won't get the message.
Tucson police just released video of near wrecks at Speedway and Kolb, and 6th and Ajo but TPD'S YouTube page has almost a dozen examples of red light running.
But do scary scenes like the ones caught on video mean the cameras don't have much effect or are the camera making more drivers behave themselves?
Officer Duane Enos is in a position to answer that. He's one of the officers who reviews red light videos and makes a human judgment on whether you get a ticket.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked him: "Before the photo enforcement lights were installed, how different were driver behaviors when they saw that yellow light."
Officer Enos: "Lots of times when I was enforcing and I was working as a motor officer I would see them speed up. I would see a lot of drivers they would make turns without stopping; things of that nature just normal bad habits if you would."
And Officer Enos thinks drivers behave better all over the city, not just near the robocam sites.
So what do driver's say?
Craig Smith asked Armando Sandoval: "Do you drive differently now that the robocams are up?
Sandoval: "Yes sir."
Smith: "How have your habits changed? Now when I see the lights getting close to red. I just stop even if its still kinda green."
Bryan Anderson says, "Even if you think the light is gonna change you go ahead and stop. It's safer that way."
His father Gary told us: "I've gauged, usually about five cars can go through and If I'm the 6th one, I'm stopping".
Those drivers talked about being quick to stop. Critics say red light cameras lead to more rear end wrecks. You can find studies that back that up, and studies that dispute it.
Police say even if you get in a rear-ender, that's less likely to kill you than the sort of head-on or broadside wreck more common with a red light runner.
Critics say the cameras are more the city's money grab than a safety effort. So what do police say?
They say they definitely see a safety boost from the cams and say by the time the state and the camera operator collect their fees it's not much of a money maker for the city.