Charlotte council discusses possible return of red light cameras

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Monday night Charlotte City Council decided to not give the signal to return red light cameras to the city. Even though a decision was not reached, the discussion is not over.

In 2006, the city got rid of red light cameras at intersections because of how revenue was being divided. At the time, traffic tickets were not bringing in any extra money, but instead costing the city.

Red light cameras have been gone for 12 years, but the ideas resurfaced Monday in regards to public safety.

"Maybe there's some things that are working better than red light cameras," City Manager Marcus Jones says.

While Jones says he does not recommend returning red light cameras to Charlotte intersections, council members continue to consider them.

"If we prevent a couple of people from being killed, a couple of students on their way to school, then I don't know it might be worth it," Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt says.

Eiselt says she is not going to bat for the cameras, she is still open to it.

Other council members feel strongly against the idea.

"Let's think about ways that we can impact behavior, outside of criminalizing," Braxton Winston says.

Winston says he wants the city to think more creatively to prevent red light runners.

"Maybe we take one of these mangled pieces of metal, that's left after one of these right angle crashes, and prop it up on the corner to make people think," Winston says.

A report says Charlotte averages 26,000 crashes a year and 700 of them were angled crashes at intersections.

In 2006, legislation led to the city putting an end to the cameras. It called for 90 percent of ticket revenue to go to schools, in addition to fees required to keep the cameras running.

"This is something that has a material percentage impact, on what is a very small percentage of our broader challenge and problem," Tariq Bokhari says.

Council has asked for more research into this and an update on data next month as the discussion continues.

The city attorney said Monday, if implemented, these cameras could cost the city's general fund more than $750,000 a year.

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