Red light cameras get go-ahead

Last updated 15:46 17/07/2013
Traffic cameras to snare drivers running red lights will finally be installed at dangerous intersections.
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ

RED MEANS STOP: A police traffic sign warns about fines for running red lights.

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Traffic cameras to snare drivers running red lights will finally be installed at dangerous intersections, following a two year pilot.

Associate transport minister Michael Woodhouse today released a paper outlining how a new generation of digital cameras can reduce crashes.

It follows a pilot scheme in Auckland, run between 2008 and 2010, which saw a 69 per cent drop in crashes attributable to red light running.

Auckland Transport's Road Safety Manager Karen Hay called the trial a success.

"We are pleased we can now look at putting red light cameras at other intersections in Auckland," she said. 

Earlier this year the Automobile Association blasted the Government for dragging its heels over producing a national policy.

Woodhouse said the paper paves the way for greater use at intersections.

''I'm expecting to see these new generation red light cameras appearing at intersections from the end of next year,'' he said.

In the four years from 2008, 11 people died and 169 were seriously injured in crashes where a driver had run a red light. There were 1466 minor injuries.

The Ministry of Transport has estimated the annual ''social cost'' is $43 million.

Cameras used currently require in-road sensors and manual collection of data. But newer models allow radar to detect red light running, and wirelessly transmit data to police.

The paper provides guidelines to police and local authorities on selecting suitable sites. Police IT systems will have to be updated and authorities will have to tender for camera providers.

Woodhouse stressed an evidence-based benefit must be established before cameras are installed. The new technology will ''result in significant long-term benefits and cost savings,'' he said.

The paper also says there are other ways to cut red light running, including changing the phasing of lights, and the engineering of intersections and managing speed limits. Education campaigns will also boost safety, it says.

Cameras should only be installed where there is an established crash record arising from red light running or a risk of casualties, the paper warns.

Only police can issue infringement notices for traffic signal offences and the fines must be paid into a Crown account. The Ministry did not consider the implications of changing the law on revenue generation.

Running a red light attracts a fine of $150.

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