Second set of traffic cameras goes live in Selmer
By Christen Coulon
Selmer saw its second set of traffic cameras become fully operational in July, and according to Selmer’s Mayor, David Robinson, the cameras are doing their job.
The cameras, located at the Hwy. 64/45 intersection and at Hwy. 45 at Walmart, document speeding and red light violations and are passed via a contract agency to the city where a final determination is made before tickets are issued.
The tickets come with a $50 fine, and those caught do not have to pay court costs as long as the fine is paid in a timely manner. Those who wait until a second notice is issued or challenge them in court are subject to court costs in addition to the initial fine. The city did not have to invest any money to put the cameras in place, and they split the revenue with the reviewing agency which owns the cameras on a staggered basis; the reviewing agency gets $42 of the $50 for the first 100 tickets, $29 of the $50 for tickets 101-150, and $19 of the $50 for all of the additional tickets each month.
So far this year, the Hwy. 64/45 camera has generated more than $32,973 in total revenue with 2,507 processed incidents resulting in 357 total notices for motorists. And the Walmart camera, in its first month of operation, was expected to process more than double the number of incidents. However, Robinson said that the success of the cameras was not measuerd in dollars but in lives saved. He recalled that in the two year period before he took office that there had been either 1 or 2 fatalities at the Hwy. 64/45 intersection.
“When we put the first camera up we were having 1 to 2 major accidents out there a year,” Robinson said. “We haven’t had a (fatal) accident since we put them in.”
Robinson said that much like the Hwy. 64/45 camera, he expected the number of violations at the Walmart camera to be high the first few months. And the early numbers from July at the Walmart cameras with 694 printed notices support that statement. After six months, he expects the tickets to stabilize at a much lower number.
“It’s going be more out there to start with,” Robinson said. “When we first put them in, it was real high, and then folks understood and they started slowing down and stopped running the red light. When we did the study, we put sensors out there just to see if it would warrant putting a camera out there. There were like 1,200 speeders and over 350 red light runners. And that was over a 12 hour period.”
Once someone has triggered the cameras, there is a rigorous review process to determine if that person deserves a ticket.
“They go through three stations in Phoenix that review them, then it has to come here and we have an officer review them,” Robinson said. “Then the officer will sign off or reject them. So it’s a four stage process.
“The interesting thing about the systems is that they have a video camera. You can view it online. You can watch and see yourself run.”
Many people do not fully understand how the cameras work and Robinson wanted to explain to local motorists that as long as they follow the law they will not receive a ticket. He said that the system arms when the light turns red, so as long as your wheels are behind the stop bar and you stop when the light turns red then you are good. When entering the intersection in a yellow light, if your wheels have completely crossed the stop bar when the light turns red you are fine as well.
“As long as you are beyond the stop bar when the light turns red you are fine,” Robinson said. “You don’t need to gun it or slam on your brakes. There are some negative comments that have come out that suggest it has increased rear end accidents, and we haven’t had any.”
Robinson stressed that the reason the cameras is not revenue, but safety. In fact, he said that he would consider it a success if there was a month where no tickets were issued because everyone followed the posted speed limit and stopped at the lights.