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Red light cameras in Montgomery Co. send warning flashes

Wednesday - 12/18/2013, 7:02am  ET

GAITHERSBURG, Md. -- Are the red light camera working the way they're supposed to, or are these flashes a sign of a malfunctioning camera?

Drivers in Montgomery County often write into WTOP Ticketbuster to ask us about flashes coming from red light cameras when the light is green or yellow, worried they are getting tickets for no reason.

WTOP profiled the issue in August 2012, but Montgomery County officials want to remind drivers that these flashes are warning lights, not tickets.

"We have pucks in the ground with this current system and it measures the speed. Once you come to a certain speed, the cameras arm because it knows once you go a certain speed and approach a changing light, you're more than likely not going to stop for it," says Montgomery County Police Captain Thomas Didone.

"Just because it flashes doesn't mean you're getting a photo. Plus these cameras are video cameras. So every time a violation is captured, it's a video and a reviewer looks at it. In Montgomery County, unless you completely drive through the red light, you're not getting a citation. The reviewers have the discretion to throw out citations when a driver doesn't go through the intersection," he says.

Didone says the flash is a warning light to let the camera know to get ready and let the driver know the light is about to change and to slow down immediately.

"We don't believe it's a safety violation. It lets people know there is a camera there. There is an awareness factor. If the flash startles them and gets them to slow down and stop, that's a good thing," says Didone.

So unless you run a red light, you will not get a ticket.

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