Jun 30, 2011 10:14 PM by Maddie Garrett
By now, most drivers in Lafayette are probably familiar with the SafeLight and SafeSpeed cameras posted up around the city. While data shows crashes are down here in Lafayette, other U.S. Cities have found they could actually be causing accidents. Now nine states have banned the cameras for that reason.
"If you don't run red lights and you don't speed, these have no impact on you," said Lafayette Transportation Director Tony Tramel.
But that statement may not be true for all cases. According to some critics, the camera's flash can actually startle drivers, causing them to slam on their brakes which can lead to rear-end collisions.
"I think they could be causing these accidents, you know the flash is pretty bright," said Lafayette driver Beau Vallot.
A 2005 study by the Federal Highway Admiistration found that while injuries from right angle crashes decreased by 16% at red light intersections, injuries from rear-end collisions increased by 24%.
But Tramel said that's not the case in Lafayette. In fact, a 2010 study found rear-end collisions were down 31% and the deadly right angle or t-bone crashes, were down 48% in Lafayette after the SafeLight and SafeSpeed cameras were installed.
"So in Lafayette, what has been reported on a national level in some cities, doesn't seem to apply here in this community," explained Tramel.
Tramel said these numbers indicate that the cameras are working and appear to be improving driver behavior.
"I used to speed up at yellow lights and now I definitely slow down now and stop," said Cassie Deshotels, a driver in Lafayette.
Still, the system has been criticized for being just a way to generate revenue. But Tramel said the program is completely violator-funded and the revenue can only be used for road improvement and safety projects.
"The funds are dedicated to traffic safety, they're not used to pay my salary or anyone else's salary, they're dedicated to one time capital expenditures," said Tramel.
The cameras generated roughly $8.4 million in total revenue through September 2010 for Lafayette. $3.8 million of that went to pay the vendor, Redflex, and $4.6 million went to Lafayette Consolidated Government.
For the 2010-2011 Fiscal Year Budget, LCG appropriated nearly $2.6 million to be spent on operations of the program and road improvements at several locations, including five major intersections:
Johnston St./LA Ave at Evangeline Thruway
Pinhook at University
Ambassador Caffery at Congress
Feu Follet/E Bayou at Kaliste Saloom
Congress at University