Colorado Editorials

The Colorado Springs Gazette: City needs red light cameras for safety

Author: The Gazette Editorial Board - November 20, 2017 - Updated: November 19, 2017

The sun rises over downtown Colorado Springs Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Colorado Springs police and city officials emphasized safety concerns during a public meeting Wednesday night when they advocated for red light cameras.

But many in the crowd were suspicious of the city’s motives, citing possible corruption and fears of a “Big Brother” type situation.

It should be clear that security cameras are in use all around the Springs, whether it’s in businesses, parking lots or downtown streets. The cameras serve to protect us when we are out in public. Countless crimes are solved because of security camera footage.

Why should the city’s intersections be any different?

Anyone who drives in Colorado Springs knows that certain streets are almost racetracks with drivers ignoring speed limits and running through traffic lights that have turned red.

How many times have you stopped at a red light only to see one or even two cars in the other lane fly through the intersection as the traffic from the other direction begins to move? Some drivers even change lanes to “make the light.”

Unsafe driving behavior is unfortunately a fact of life while driving our streets. The city’s police force can’t possibly stop the speeders, aggressive drivers and red light violators.

Red light cameras will reduce the need for police officers to monitor traffic, thus making more officers available for other duties.

Red light cameras at intersections with high accidents could reduce the number of these dangerous occurrences and maybe even help take dangerous repeat offenders off the streets before they injure an innocent bystander.

If the cameras are set to activate when someone is exceeding the speed limit by 5-10 mph, the message would be clear: Slow down. Red lights really mean stop and speed limits are to protect the public.

Statistics show 16.6 percent more injury accidents in the first six months of this year compared with the first half of last year. As the city grows, there is increased traffic and more congestion. And there are more people breaking the speed limit. It’s a question of safety and a question of law enforcement.

Why have speed limits if we are not going to enforce them? There is no rational argument to be made for not enforcing the law. Only those who are breaking the law would be effected by the use of this proven technology.

And the possible corruption – the idea that the city just wants to gouge drivers for more money?

Drivers who are cited will have recourse and can argue their position in court. If the cameras are configured at a reasonable setting, there shouldn’t be much room for debate.

The cameras become an additional traffic management and public safety tool and hopefully a deterrent.

Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins and even tiny Sheridan, use red light cameras. It’s time for Colorado Springs to rethink whether we want our city’s streets to be safer.

The Gazette Editorial Board