Red light citations spike before traffic cameras turn off

Motorists probably incorrectly thought traffic cameras were turned off when they blew through these red lights, say Albuquerque police.

Liane Yvkoff
Liane Yvkoff is a freelance writer who blogs about cars for CNET Car Tech. E-mail Liane.
Liane Yvkoff

Albuquerque police say more motorists are blowing through red lights than the previous year.

Bowing to citizen complaints last year, New Mexico state legislators banned the contentious "red light" cameras that were installed throughout New Mexico seven years ago. All cameras in Albuquerque were scheduled to go dark on December 14.

But motorists may have gotten their dates mixed up or thought Christmas was coming early. Police say they've observed a 12 percent increase in traffic light citations between the period of November 7 and December 12 compared to the previous year, according to an article in Albuquerque Journal.

And it could get worse. Some intersections in the city previously guarded by traffic cameras were turned off in 2010, and since then red light violations increased by almost 600 percent, the article states. Police fear that the trend will continue and plan to combat the lack of automated enforcement with stepped-up motorcycle patrols and increased fines. The penalty for running a red light increased from $75 to $275.

Motorists hated the traffic cameras, and argued that they were used only to generate revenue, not improve safety. Police say that accidents at the 20 intersections where cameras were installed fell from 1,280 in 2007 to 1,045 in 2010.

Source: Albuquerque Journal