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Fairview's traffic cameras generated at least $90,000 -



FILE PHOTO - The intersection of Fairview Parkway and Halsey Street is used by 310,00 motorists each month.A new study shows that fatal accidents caused by running red lights increased 30 percent in large cities that turned off their traffic signal cameras.

The report is relevant to drivers everywhere, but may have special significance in Fairview, where camera enforcement at the busy intersection of Fairview Parkway and Halsey Street ended in May 2015.

The controversial cameras generated at least $90,000 for the city — allowing the police department to hire a 16th full-time officer — and decreased red-light running at the intersection by 50 percent.

That dip matches the data analyzed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute, two industry-backed groups who receive their funding from auto insurers.

IIHS studied 57 cities with a population of more than 200,000, finding that cities with traffic signal cameras decreased fatal red-light violations by 21 percent. A 2011 IIHS study with a smaller sample size found a 24 percent reduction.

“One of the things that you look for in research is consistency in the findings, and now we have two studies showing virtually the same conclusions,” IIHS spokesman Russ Rader said. “There’s a lot of research backing up red-light cameras, not just ours but here and around the world.”

The researchers also found a 14 percent decrease in all types of fatal crashes at intersections with traffic cameras.

Rader said the study focused on large cities because more accidents occur there. He believes the data is relevant in smaller cities too. Red-light violations led to 709 deaths and roughly 126,000 injuries in 2014, according to the Institute.

Fairview Councilors Natalie Voruz, Dan Kreamier and Steve Prom, as well as Mayor Ted Tosterud, voted in favor of removing the cameras in April 2015.

“We’re really interested in public safety and transportation safety in Fairview,” Prom said. “We just don’t believe that it should be a revenue source for the city.”

Councilor Brian Cooper, who voted to keep the cameras, said the perception that traffic cameras are merely a “cash cow” is false.

“If nobody’s running the red light, we’re not issuing citations,” he said. “Some people just don’t like 24/7 robo-policing.”

A recent report from Fairview PD counted 10 crashes and three injuries at the intersection since the cameras were removed last year. Many of the accidents were rear-end collisions, which aren’t typically associated with speeding through a red light.

The council has no current plans to review the situation at the Fairview-Halsey intersection, which is used by about 310,000 vehicles each month.

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