• 9 Investigates red-light runners in Charlotte

    By: John Paul


    Channel 9 gets a number of complaints about drivers running red lights, so anchor John Paul decided to look into just how bad the problem is.

    "My light was green. As soon as I went through the light all I heard was boom," said Nyquell Connor, who said someone ran a red light and hit his car.

    The accident was reported on Arrowood Road off of I-77, but Connor thinks it’s a problem across the city.

    "People run red lights all the time in Charlotte all the time," Connor said.

    Channel 9 conducted an experiment on red light runners. Based on complaints from viewers, and data from the city, Channel 9 set up cameras at intersections across Charlotte to see just how many people run red lights.

    (Click PLAY to watch our red light runner experiment)

    The first stop was the intersection of Sugar Creek and the Plaza.

    With cameras in place, Channel 9 didn't have to wait long. A van blew through the red light, so did a pickup truck and, at one point, four drivers in a row ran through the red light. Altogether in 20 minutes, six drivers failed to stop.

    The next location was at South Tryon and Bland streets. It is the same intersection where Jessica Morrell was hit by a man who ran the light in March. She died months later on Saturday, May 6.

    Channel 9 caught cars, a moped and even a city truck clearly run the red. In 20 minutes, Channel 9 counted five drivers run the light.

    The last intersection Channel 9 checked was the worst, at South Boulevard and Remount Road. Channel 9 saw people run the light two at a time, including a motorcycle. In about 20 minutes, Channel 9 witnessed a total of 18 drivers blow through this intersection.

    "It can be a deadly issue," Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Sgt. Jesse Wood said.

    Wood works traffic for CMPD. Channel 9 told him what we found on local roads to get his reaction.

    "Being a police officer for 20 years, I've seen a lot of it," Wood said. "It's not that surprising."

    If you think the problem is getting worse as Charlotte grows, the numbers just don't back it up.

    According to CMPD, red light violations are actually declining.

    Police cited 1,352 drivers in 2015 for running a red light,

    But that number dropped in 2016 to 1,060, which is a 21 percent decrease.

    Police pointed out that doesn't necessarily mean fewer people are running the lights, just fewer people are being caught.

    "This weekend I was at an intersection, and I saw three cars go through a red light," Charlotte City Councilwoman Vi Lyles said.

    Lyles has a controversial solution to the problem: Bring back the red light cameras.

    "I think it will make a difference, but we have to prove that to our citizens," Lyles said.

    It has been tried here before. From 1998 to 2006, red light cameras were credited with decreasing the number of serious crashes and fatalities. But they were ultimately taken down because of cost.

    [RELATED: New survey finds support for red light cameras in Charlotte]

    The city plans to study the idea again.

    "I think red light cameras need to come back to Charlotte," Connor said.

    He's out hundreds of dollars because he couldn't prove the other driver ran the red light. A camera would have changed that.

    "I think it would be the best thing for the city to do. It would save a lot of lives," Connor said.

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