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Md. town shuts down 2 of its 3 red light cameras

Wednesday - 7/11/2012, 2:32pm  ET

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The City of Westminster in Carroll County is shutting down two of its three red light cameras.

There were two reasons given for the shutdown at the intersection of Maryland Route 140 and Maryland Route 97.

The first is that the cameras have basically done their job.

"The red light running has just about completely stopped, and the amount of collisions in the actual intersection have decreased to zero," Major Ronald Stevens, deputy chief of Westminster Police tells WTOP.

But he also says the number of rear-end collisions at the intersection are starting to increase.

"We're now getting rear-end collisions with individuals stopping for the red light," says Stevens.

Some red light camera opponents argue that the devices do increase the number of rear end collisions, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Some studies have reported that while red light cameras reduce front-into-side collisions and overall injury crashes, they can increase rear-end crashes. However, such crashes tend to be much less severe than front-into-side crashes, so the net effect is positive.

A study sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration evaluated red light camera programs in seven cities. The study found that, overall, right-angle crashes decreased by 25 percent while rear-end collisions increased by 15 percent. Results showed a positive aggregate economic benefit of more than $18.5 million in the seven communities. The authors concluded that the economic costs from the increase in rear-end crashes were more than offset by the economic benefits from the decrease in right-angle crashes targeted by red light cameras.

Not all studies have reported increases in rear-end crashes. The review by the Cochrane Collaboration did not find a statistically significant change in rear-end injury crashes.

The Westminster City Council approved the move to deactivate the two cameras.

The lone remaining red light camera in the city will remain at the intersection of MD 97 and Nursery Road.

"With that one we've actually had an increase in the number of violations that are going through the red light," says Stevens.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)