Council members debated a request Tuesday night to consider adding red light enforcement cameras at six intersections in Fairfax City.
City of Fairfax Police Chief Rick Rappoport suggested taking advantage of newly relaxed Virginia Code restrictions in order to fight potentially dangerous red light violations in the city. Virginia Code now allows jurisdictions to install up to 10 red light cameras.
There are currently red light cameras monitoring eastbound and westbound traffic at North Street and University Drive, and eastbound and westbound traffic along Fairfax Boulevard at Fairfax Circle.
If council members decide to move forward with expanding the program, they will have to consider whether to install only a few cameras, or all six, as well as whether to hire an officer position at $110,000 a year to help manage the expansion of the program.
"We don't have a high accident rate at any of our intersections compared to other intersections in this highly urbanized area," Rappoport said. "To me, the strong argument for the program is that every red light violation is a potential accident. Accident numbers aren't going up in part because of this program."
Police have monitored the results of its four red light cameras since Aug. 1, 2011 and found that red light violations decreased and the number of red light-related accidents at those intersections either remained the same or decreased. During that time there wasn't a single rear-end "panic stop" related to a red light, according to Rappoport.
A recent study in Arlington by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety found that red light cameras significantly reduce red light violations at those intersections as well as other intersections along the same highway corridor.
Fairfax made history in 1997 for being the first jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia to use red light enforcement cameras, Rappoport said. At that time the city had one camera rotating over three locations.
Now, the city is considering installing cameras at any of the following intersections:
- Chain Bridge Road at Eaton
- Main Street at Pickett Road
- Fairfax Boulevard at Pickett Road
- Fairfax Boulevard at Chain Bridge Road
- Main Street at Whitacre
- Fairfax Boulevard at Rebel Run
- Main Street at Burke Station
- Main Street at Woodland
- Fairfax Boulevard at Plantation Parkway
- Pickett Road at Old Pickett Road
- Main Street at Judicial (eastbound only)
Council members expressed interest in the program but had some concerns over adding a new employee position to expand it. They plan to discuss it more at a future work session.