Red light cameras come to Abington Township

ABINGTON TWP., Pa. (WPVI) -- Red light cameras are now in place at three of the most dangerous intersections in Abington Township, and drivers caught going through red lights will soon have to pay up.

The intersection of Old York and Susquehanna roads is considered one of the most dangerous places in the township.

The way it's configured makes it tough to police, so the hopes are the new red light cameras here, and elsewhere, will help change bad behavior.

Abington resident Joe Bryne says, "I've actually seen people when light turns yellow look around to see if there's a police officer and they hit the gas.

To discourage that Abington has become the first Pennsylvania suburb to embrace red light cameras.

Abington Police Chief Bill Kelly tells us, "Our loved ones are three times more likely to die in a traffic crash than from a hand gun."

The cameras now focused on the town's three most dangerous intersections, which collectively racked up 248 crashes, 37 injuries and one fatality in three years time.

The hope is that a possible $100 fine will change behavior.

"We're just looking for people to be alert and obey the law," Chief Kelly said.

Drivers today mixed about the new electronic eyes.

Janeen Wallace of Northeast Philadelphia says, "I think they help. But they can cause problems, 'cause sometimes people slam on their brakes to avoid them so, to avoid the ticket."

The effectiveness of red light cameras is still debated, though there have been numerous studies.

Proponents say they reduce red light running and significantly reduce crash severity by reducing the number of right angle or t-bone collisions.

Critics point out that there is also evidence that there is an increase in less sever rear-end collisions when drivers stop short.

Aware of that, Abington is placing electronic signs ahead of its intersections, warning drivers of the new cameras.

For the next two months, red light runners will be getting a warning in the mail. After that violators will receive a $100 fine.

The red light cameras are somewhat of an experiment in Abington Township, as the red light cameras have only been approved for one year. At the end of the year there has to be a public hearing to see if they actually did improve safety, and then the commission will vote to decide whether they should extend the program.
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