Select Board mulls proposition to install red light cameras
By Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor
LONGMEADOW The images presented were shocking: a mother and child being struck by a vehicle; one car T-boning another, which then rolled over a pedestrian; a tractor trailer running a red light seven seconds after it had changed from yellow.
These are all worst case scenarios gathered from El Paso, Texas, a city that has installed Redflex Traffic Systems' red light cameras. "The REDFLEXred photo enforcement technology provides unsurpassed accuracy in reducing red light-related traffic collisions," according to the company's Web site. "Statistics in most Redflex-protected cities show significant reductions in most collisions, injuries and costs associated with unlawful driving."
The town of Longmeadow is interested in installing some of these cameras, and one 12-hour period of time proved that they would be a worthwhile investment.
Peter McNerney, Regional Sales Manager for Redflex, met with the Select Board and Police Chief Bob Siano last Monday evening for a presentation on the system. Cameras that had been set up at the corners of Laurel and Converse streets on April 29 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. recorded 42 red light infractions headed eastbound and 45 infractions headed westbound.
"I kept looking for the cameras, and I never saw them," Select Board Vice-Chair Paul Santaniello said.
McNerney explained that there are currently 24 states that use the Redflex system to catch red light runners, and those cities and towns like the system because "it doesn't profile and it doesn't cost the town a dollar out of pocket."
The cameras shoot video of intersections as traffic signals turn red and can record the license plate of an offending vehicle through rain, snow, dark even speeds over 100 miles per hour. The information is then sent to local police departments, who can give the offender a ticket or decline to do so.
The only town in Massachusetts to have the technology is Taunton, but there are currently two bills - S.1935 by Sen. Joan Menard of the First Bristol and Plymouth District and H.3240 by Rep. Kevin Honan of the 17th Suffolk District - that would allow the use of traffic control signal violation monitoring systems as a means of promoting traffic safety to be allowed statewide.
Massachusetts law currently states that a police officer must be present when someone runs a red light for that person to be issued a ticket. The new law would allow for tickets to be issued remotely.
The proposed fee for running a red light would be $125 per incident, but no points would be added to the driver's license.
Redflex covers the hardware, software, maintenance and support for their system - the Longmeadow Police Department would do the rest. A flat fee would be charged by Redflex, with the rest of the money garnered from tickets going to the town.
Mark Gold, clerk of the Select Board, asked how long the town would need to sign a contract with Redflex and who would own the videos of the red light runners.
McNerney said the average contract lasts five years, and that the town would own the videos.
Tony Cignoli of A.L. Cignoli Company, the public relations firm working for Redflex, noted that 150 towns in the Commonwealth are interested in this technology.
"Everyone's looking for new ways to make revenue," he stated. He listed other nearby towns, including Springfield and East Longmeadow, who are interested in Redflex. Springfield issued a request for proposal (RFP) three years ago, even though the cameras aren't legal yet.
Members of the Select Board agreed that they were interested in the technology and would like to be "near the top of the list" when the cameras become legal statewide, which Cignoli believes will happen this year.
For more information on Reflex, visit www.redflex.com