City councilmembers vote against red light cameras in Huntsville

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 11:16 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - City Council members voted against red light camera enforcement in the city of Huntsville during Thursday’s meeting.

Fining red light violators who blow through intersections has been the brainchild of Council member Frances Akridge who presented her resolution to fellow council members to approve. She believes it could create lasting change in making Huntsville roads safer.

Akridge addressed multiple concerns she’s heard from residents opposed to the idea of issuing fines by mail to residents caught running a red light.

“Topics range from it’s just a money maker to it’s not effective. Making money has never been an objective of our police department for traffic tickets, right now it sits at one half of one percent to our revenue,” said Akridge.

Critics have said the concept of a camera snapping a picture of their license plate is a privacy issue. “I don’t have much patience for that topic. You are on a public street, with a public license plate and a public driver’s license,” explained Akridge.

Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray and fellow officers addressed the council Thursday with statistics and research including Huntsville’s five most dangerous intersections.

“Highway 72 & Balch Road at 144 crashes in 2021, Governors Drive & Memorial Parkway: 114, Memorial Parkway & Drake Avenue: 95, Mastin Lake Road & Memorial Parkway: 89 and University & Jordan Lane at 86,” said Lt. Steven Anderson.

Huntsville Police Department statistics reveal the top contributing factors for crashes in city involve. Running through traffic signals comes in 6th.

1. Following too closely

2. Misjudged stopping distance

3. Improper lane change or use

4. Unseen object, person, or vehicle

5. Failing to yield right of way

6. Running traffic signals

After presenting the resolution, only Council member Akridge voted in favor.

She would have needed the council’s full approval to move the resolution forward. The Madison county legislative delegation made up of 13 members would have also needed to draft and pass a bill for the city of Huntsville to get the green light for red light enforcement.

“I don’t think that a red light camera system as we heard in other cities, would have the same inherent value overall,” said Council Member Devyn Keith.

Two other major cities in the state have implemented red light camera enforcement: Montgomery and Tuscaloosa.

The Huntsville Police Department reached out to both for input. Montgomery saw a 50% decrease in collisions while after multiple audits, Tuscaloosa saw just the opposite - a minimal decrease in red light related crashes.

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