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Waterbury looks to be first Connecticut city to test red light cameras

Several red light cameras monitor drivers at urban intersections in Austin, including signs and camera towers at 11th Street and Interstate 35. The cameras are controversial because drivers say they result in more rear-end collisions while police say they cut down on red light violations.
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Several red light cameras monitor drivers at urban intersections in Austin, Texas, including signs and camera towers at 11th Street and Interstate 35. The cameras are controversial because drivers say they result in more rear-end collisions, while police say they cut down on red light violations.

Erratic driving and a record number of traffic-related injuries and fatalities in 2022 have prompted some lawmakers to take action. A Waterbury representative has introduced a bill that, if passed, would make the city the first in Connecticut to test “red-light” cameras.

Red light cameras take pictures of traffic violations. If a vehicle enters an intersection after the traffic signal turns red, it is photographed. Authorities believe the photo will help them enforce traffic laws.

Rep. Michael DiGiovancarlo (D-Waterbury) helped introduce the red light camera bill and said reckless driving is increasing.

“We’ve had a record number of fatalities on the road in Waterbury," he said, noting that a pedestrian was struck and killed in the city last year and that the state is seeing a “disturbing number” of pedestrian collisions and traffic accidents.

“The red light cameras would be placed at major intersections throughout the city and will slow traffic down and hold accountable those who disobey the traffic laws,” DiGiovancarlo said.

Other Connecticut lawmakers support using red light cameras to try to keep the roads safe.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, a Democrat, said through a statement to CT Public, “The City of New Haven is supportive of installing red light cameras and speed enforcement cameras and would welcome legislation from the State of Connecticut so that we can incorporate this important traffic safety tool.”

The state Department of Transportation is also urging lawmakers to support the use of red light cameras.

But this type of automated enforcement does have detractors.

TheACLU of Connecticut has long questioned whether red light cameras are the right solution, citing privacy and racial profiling concerns and whether the money for the high cost of red light camera technology could be better spent.

“Red light cameras tend to be put in Black and brown communities, and that is a real racial justice issue," said David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut. “We know that the way that these systems are run create a collateral consequence when someone does in fact get cited for having violated the law in some way on the roadways. So we have real concerns around it, and it is an expensive endeavor to put in red light cameras. That money should be invested in community infrastructure instead.”

The legislation will have to go through the General Assembly in Hartford before any decision is made to green-light the pilot program in the Brass City.