The Albany Police Department released the latest bunch of numbers from the city's red light camera system this week. And for the months of October, November, and December of 2015 the system registered almost 2,900 violations across 25 intersection approaches.
We've sifted and sorted the numbers in some easy-scan tables -- and a map.
Tables and map
It looks like it's hard to draw any sort of broad conclusions about the program, yet. Some of the cameras first started operating last summer, and more of them came online into the fall. Another batch activated this year, and another approach is set to go live this week. So there still aren't large uniform chunks of numbers -- for violations or crashes -- to compare against each other. It's hard to even say how many violations are bounced after being contested. (The violation numbers for a given period can't be directly matched up with the number of citations issued because of the lag in the issuing of the $50 tickets and any contests of those tickets.)
Over at the Times Union, JCE talked with police chief Brendan Cox about some of these uncertainties -- and looks at how the cameras have yet to generate revenue beyond the cost of the monthly fee the city pays for each of them. [TU]
(For what it's worth, Cox has always said the red light camera program was about traffic safety, not generating revenue. The revenue question has been a hot topic in part because the Sheehan admin had put $2 million in RLC revenue in last year's budget -- a number that turned out to be an estimate from a vendor the city didn't end up picking.)
All that said, here are a few things that caught our eye...
A few things
Everett Road and Watervliet Ave Ext
This intersection just of Central Ave continued to rack up large numbers of violations -- 653 in total during the fourth quarter of last year. It was also a top spot in the last batch of numbers.
The next two intersections with the highest numbers of captured violations were both on Western Ave -- Western and Russell Road, and Western and Brevator. Both these intersections are along the same stretch of Western Ave. And, anecdotally, our sense is that people tend to drive along that stretch much faster than the speed limit. So it might merit some consideration about how to slow traffic along there generally. (It might also just be an issue of volume -- see below.)
It's kind of surprising to us how few violations were captured at Washington & Quail and Washington & Main. We would have figured those spots might have the same issues as that stretch of Western mentioned above -- wide street with people traveling along it quickly. But the spots had the lowest number of violations captured among active camera intersections.
Rear end crashes
Based on the experience of other cities, one of the side effects of red light camera is said to sometimes be an uptick in the number of rear-end crashes. Albany police say there were 16 rear-end crashes near camera intersections during the last quarter of 2015 -- and a review of those crashes determined that one of the 16 could be attributed to behavior prompted by the red light camera.
One of the things we'd like to know along with these violation numbers: How many cars are passing through an intersection or approach. Knowing the volume of traffic would help put violation numbers in a better context.
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