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Archive for Sunday, June 28, 1998

CAMERAS IN COLORADO CATCHING DRIVERS

June 28, 1998

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Although no formal studies have been conducted, observers report a reduction in accidents and people running red lights.

In at least one university town, cameras mounted atop traffic signals are doing the job.

In Fort Collins, Colo. -- home to Colorado State University -- officials are spending nearly $500,000 a year to employ a technological advancement in police technology: cameras to snag speeders and red-light runners on film.

And it's working, said Rita Davis, executive staff project manager for Fort Collins Police Services.

The city employs a two-part approach to new technology:

  • Red light cameras at the intersection of Drake Road and College Avenue, known as the most accident-prone intersection in town.
  • A ``camera radar'' system, which is a mobile radar in the back of a sport utility vehicle. Speed limit compliance rates in 30 mph zones have doubled since the radar started rolling in August 1996.

Together, the systems costs $492,211 and take in $651,000. The difference is used to offset associated costs, such as the new municipal court clerks hired to take on the additional load of 2,200 tickets a month churned out by the automated cameras.

``Seventy to 80 percent of tickets are voluntarily paid, so most people support the program,'' Davis said.

``There are some people who don't support the whole nature of the program, and won't no matter what.

``We have a stronger grouping of people who support the program, be-cause the problem was great enough to support.''

Fort Collins hooked up its single intersection for red-light cameras last July.

Although no formal studies have been conducted, Davis said, occupants of businesses in the commercial area at Drake and College report a reduction in accidents and people running red lights.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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