CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Defenders are learning city leaders in Charlotte are hitting the brakes on a plan to bring red light cameras back to the Queen City.
On Monday, the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) presented their new traffic safety program called Vision Zero. Red light cameras were not included; instead, CDOT recommended speed cameras.
CDOT said data showed speeding on Charlotte roads has been more deadly than drivers running red lights.
Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt heads the city’s public safety committee, where the new plan was presented on Monday. She’s been pushing for the city to research the idea of red light cameras.
“I have a concern as to whether we’ve really looked at it,” said Eiselt. “Other cities are using those cameras and they’ve shown they’ve reduced injuries and fatalities.”
However, on Monday, CDOT instead recommended speed cameras in the Vision Zero action plan. They're meant to eliminate deadly and serious crashes altogether.
“45 percent of all our fatal crashes involve speeding as a component,” said Debbie Smith, deputy director of CDOT.
That’s compared to about five percent of deadly crashes involving running a red light, according to CDOT. NBC Charlotte asked if the data played a role in the recommendation of speed cameras instead of red light cameras.
“Certainly, the emphasis is putting those items that are most important and most critical to the top,” Smith responded.
Red light cameras were used in Charlotte between 1998 and 2006. However, the city suspended the program amid financial concerns, after a court ruled the city had to give almost all of its proceeds to schools. The debate over red light cameras reemerged earlier this year, as the number of deadly crashes increased.
CDOT said speed cameras would require action from the state legislature, which could take some time.
“We have to get new legislation to get those on our city streets,” Smith said.
Moving forward, Eiselt said she wanted both speed and red light cameras to be researched.
“I would like to look at both and see what’s most effective,” she said.
The public safety committee is expected to meet on the issue again in February and then decide whether the plan will go to the full city council for a vote.