NC lawsuit claims red light cameras are flawed


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A lawsuit filed in North Carolina is raising questions about red light cameras across the state, including in Raleigh and Fayetteville.

Greenville resident William Kozel has filed the lawsuit against the city, saying the yellow lights at these intersections are not long enough and the cameras punish drivers who will not be able to brake fast enough.

Click here for a list of red light camera locations in Raleigh

Kozel’s attorney, Paul Stam, tells CBS North Carolina the lawsuit could have implications in the three other cities in North Carolina with red light camera programs – Raleigh, Fayetteville and Wilmington.

“The cameras are not the problem. The cameras reveal the problem,” said Stam. “This is not the right way to stop people from running red lights.”

Stam says the North Carolina Department of Transportation, who sets the duration of all yellow lights, misuses a formula that determines how long the light stays yellow.

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A spokesperson with the NCDOT says they cannot comment on a specific lawsuit, but claim their yellow light formula is not flawed.

Critics of the formula are not taking into account driver behavior or the individual intersection, according to the NCDOT.

Critics of red light programs also claim the cameras lead to an increase in rear-end crashes.

In Raleigh, crash numbers provided by the city show that’s been the case at some intersections, but other intersections have seen a decrease of fender-benders.

The city, which has 14 red-light cameras, credits the cameras with significantly reducing the more serious angle, or “T-bone,” crashes.

“We’d be kind of foolish not to continue [the red light camera program] when we’ve seen a 40% reduction in angle crashes,” said City of Raleigh Traffic Engineer Jed Niffenegger. “The red light cameras are for safety, City of Raleigh makes absolutely nothing off of this.”

Raleigh uses money from the citations to cover administrative costs of the program. The rest of the revenue go to the Wake County School District.

The City of Fayetteville also recently expanded their red-light camera program. Earlier this summer, the city added 5 new cameras, bringing the total to 15 at intersections across the city.

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