Could red light cameras make a comeback in Charlotte?

CHARLOTTE — The city of Charlotte is taking a look at an old friend, the red light camera.

The city had red light cameras from 1998 until 2006, when leaders suspended the program over changes to where proceeds should be directed.

State law requires 90% of proceeds to go to the School Board. In 2006, the last year of operation, the city generated $1.3 million from citations. The red light program cost $910,000 to run.

In recent years, Charlotte City Council members have toyed around with the idea of bringing the cameras back but have never taken steps to formally do so.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police aren’t asking for the cameras, but said they are on board with anything council views will make streets safer.

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt is the biggest supporter for them.

“I do think that we’ve gotten to this point in Charlotte that people know there’s no enforcement, you know, if you’re coming to an intersection, you don’t see a police car sitting there,” Eiselt said. “There’s really nothing that stops you from running it.”

The data for their effectiveness is mixed. In the first three years of camera operation, angle crashes as a vehicle approached the camera approach reduced from 41 to 11. Rear end crashes remained the same at 88.

“I am open minded to anything we can do that we think will get people to drive more safely and will reduce the number of accidents and deaths we have in and on our streets,” Councilman Larken Egleston said. “I don’t know that red lights are going to be the answer. There are some laws at the state level that make that difficult for us to implement as a strategy and there’s mixed results in terms of what sort of impact they actually have.”

Currently, four cities in North Carolina have red light cameras. Raleigh has special legislation that defines “clear proceeds” as funds remaining after covering the costs of the program. Fayetteville, Greenville and Wilmington are paying the full 90%.

The cameras aren’t the only safety measure Charlotte leaders are working on to improve safety.

On Friday, city leaders cut the ribbon on new bike lanes in the Belmont neighborhood on Parkwood Avenue. The lanes are part of a new street project that us aimed at making the roads safer for everyone.

(WATCH PREVIOUS STORY BELOW: City Leaders Push For Return Of Red Light Cameras)