Police Say Red Light Cameras Working Correctly
By STEPHEN SIEGEL
Falls Church Times Staff
February 10, 2011
Some area residents have expressed concern that Falls Church City’s new red-light cameras are incorrectly ticketing drivers who are actually operating their vehicles legally.
But a police official in charge of the program says that’s not the case, and that the cameras are functioning as intended.
The controversy grew when Arlington resident William Derosiers wrote to the Falls Church Times to inquire whether the cameras were inappropriately flashing and ticketing drivers who made legal right turns on red. Mr. Desrosiers said he received a warning in the mail for just such a situation, and The Times published Mr. Derosiers’ assertion and concern as a letter to the editor on Feb. 3. A total of 17 comments were posted by readers within one day.
Some of the comments challenged the Times to get to the bottom of the matter. Ask, and ye shall receive.
Police officials say the camera is designed to not only catch traditional red-light runners, but also those drivers who fail to first come to a complete stop, as required by law, before making a legal right on red.
“A vehicle that comes to a complete stop before entering the intersection to turn right on red will not generate a recorded violation,” said Sgt. P. M. Uelmen, who directs the city police’s Intersection Safety Program.
“Our automated enforcement system is designed to record all red light violations, including those in which the vehicle fails to come to a complete stop before turning right.”
Mr. Derosiers contended in his letter that he did stop first, and without seeing the video, it would be impossible for anyone else to determine. If motorists believe they have been wrongly ticketed, they can contest the ticket in court, as they can for any other driving infraction.
The red light cameras are operating in the city at Broad and Annandale streets and Broad and Cherry streets. City Manager Wyatt Shields recently said infractions are running above projections at those intersections, but that driving behavior also is improving.
By Stephen Siegel
February 10, 2011