David Clemen feels a twinge of anxiety when he approaches some of Wilmington’s traffic lights.
He knows the camera is watching.
“I find myself having some trepidation coming up to lights,” he said.
Clemen fears a red light ticket. He hasn’t gotten that notice in the mail saying he owes $50 for running a red light at one of the 13 camera monitored lights in the city. But that flash is always lurking.
The city finished installing new video technology on the last camera that detects when drivers don’t stop before turning right on a red light in November. That update process took about a year, city traffic engineer Don Bennett said.
And drivers like Clemen are noticing a flash even when a car is not running the red light.
“It will just go off randomly,” he said, adding it’s annoying and confusing.
Bennett said the flash is the machine rebooting itself, not the camera taking a picture.
“It’s trying to figure out if everything’s working,” he said.
If the camera does capture a photo during a green light, it’s thrown out, Bennett said.
Though the cameras take shots of cars moving through the intersection, the footage goes through four levels of human review before a ticket is issued, Bennett said, adding he is the last to double check for a violation.
“There’s a misconception that the machine just sits on the side of the road and spits out tickets. That is not the case,” he said.
Clemen said he’s anxious when approaching intersections, especially if he’s unsure when the light will change.
And on Market he doesn’t have faith fellow drivers behind him will slow down.
“Everyone seems to think it’s a race track,” he added.
The city issued 16,469 citations in 2010 for red light violations, according to city data. Some of the lights had the new video technology while some were still being installed when the information was gathered, Bennett said.
Red light camera locations in Wilmington, followed by the enforced approach (the direction the camera faces):
Source: City Traffic Engineer
Date posted: January 5, 2011
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