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Red Light Camera Makes Debut In Cherry Hill

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CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) - Another South Jersey town is turning to red light cameras to try and make a busy intersection safer – even though some studies suggest the cameras don’t actually cut down on accidents.

On Monday, Cherry Hill turned on two cameras at Route 70 and Springdale Road, the township’s busiest intersection with 80,000 vehicles passing through each day. For the next 30 days, red light runners will get a warning. After that, it will be an $85 fine.

During a study period in 2010, officials say there were 375 accidents in or near the intersection, so they’re hoping the red light cameras will encourage drivers to slow down and drive more carefully.

“It’s for safety,” said Sgt. Michael Rann, who heads the traffic division of the Cherry Hill Police Department. “Once people realize they are being watched they will be more mindful of what they’re doing.”

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He says the cameras should cut down on rear-end accidents. Some studies, however suggest the exact opposite.

A study by University of Illinois-Chicago professor Rajiv Shah, which looked at 39 intersections with red light cameras in Chicago, found no significant change in the number of accidents. The professor says some intersections actually saw more accidents.

Down the road in Deptford, N.J., police Chief Daniel Murphy says his department saw just one fewer accident since a camera was installed at Route 41 and Deptford Center Road last year.

And in Philadelphia, which has had red light cameras for six years, a random sample of four intersections with cameras by Eyewitness News found three saw the number of accidents increase last year when compared to years before the cameras were installed.

Eyewitness News checked intersections at Roosevelt Boulevard and Grant Avenue, the Boulevard and Cottman Avenue, Broad Street and Penn Square and 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue. Accidents increased at all but the Boulevard and Cottman.

Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt says he believes the cameras can improve safety.

“I hope people will slow down,” he said.

Red light cameras have also come under fire as simply being a money-maker for cash-strapped towns and cities. Mayor Platt says he doesn’t deny that. The township will get $73.50 of the $85 for each violation – the remainder goes to the company that monitors the cameras.

Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3

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