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Posted at 7:02 PM ET, 03/ 3/2011

309 red-light fines in Falls Church

By Washington Post Editors

New red-light cameras in Falls Church have led to more than 300 citations being sent to drivers over the last five weeks.

In the first five weeks of use, between Jan. 18 and Feb. 25, drivers received 309 citations, according to a report by Adam Tuss on

The cameras are installed at the eastbound and westbound approaches at Broad and Cherry streets and at Broad Street and Annandale Road as part of the "Falls Church Focus on Safety Program." They became operational in December but drivers received warnings for a month.

According to a city Web site, owners of vehicles that are pictured running red lights will be fined a minimum of $50.

Officials say that the images (the cameras produce photographs and video) will be confirmed by the police department before a citation is issued.

A recent report by Washington Post staff writers Christy Goodman and Megan Buerger said the use of the cameras are on the rise throughout the region. Arlington County and Falls Church are the only locations that have been authorized to use the cameras in Virginia. A ban was in place from 2005 to 2007 in the commonwealth.

The first comprehensive study on the use of red-light cameras, released last month by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said the enforcement is saving lives. District intersections where the cameras are in used experienced a 26 percent decline in traffic fatalities over five years, according to the study.

Related stories:

A guide to red-light cameras

By Washington Post Editors  | March 3, 2011; 7:02 PM ET
Categories:  Driving  
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Does DC have new speed camera vehicles?

I noticed a flash on a road that typically has a MPD cruiser with radar/camera/flash mounted on the front but no MPD cruiser to be found.

Instead on the other side of the road I saw what appeared to be an unmarked white suv (Ford I think) with a flash mounted on the left rear window.

Posted by: pooooop423 | March 3, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Although I don't have the figures that I've read elsewhere, there apparently has been a marked increase in rear-end collisions at these photo-enforced intersections. Drivers are attempting to stop suddenly when confronted with this ticketing situation causing an up-tick in accidents. Has anyone else seen this data?

Posted by: Mstrdiver | March 3, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Only unimportant people should be required to stop at red lights. The rest of us are above the law.

Posted by: 1911a1 | March 3, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Tickets! That's the 'ticket' for cash-hungry governments. If you can't tax it directly, enact a web of fines and easy-to-violate laws which allow you to hand out tickets as fast as candy on Halloween. Only there's no 'treat' here, it's all 'trick.'

The cure for red-light running has been known by traffic engineers for decades: running increases when yellow time is reduced, and decreases when yellow time is increased. Even a second can make a huge difference. No fines, tickets, cams or enforcement are therefore needed to lower accident rates.

But given the choice between adding a second or two of yellow or criminalizing and fining drivers--guess which greedy governments would rather do! That's the 'trick.'

Some areas have reduced the yellow time, seen accident rates rise, then used cameras to 'solve' the problem they created. Red light cams do indeed increase rear-end accident rates. The National Motorists Association has authoritative reports on their site:

Falls Church and everywhere else: stop the sham, scrap the cams, and increase yellow times and we'll all be safer!

Posted by: webmaster12 | March 3, 2011 9:07 PM | Report abuse


There have been some studies done showing an increase in fender-benders--but an decrease in fatal crashes.

Be careful what you ask for.

Posted by: krickey7 | March 4, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Just money making devices. Time for some spraypaint!

Posted by: civilrightist | March 4, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Some of the posters to this article need to go back to driver's ed for a refresher course. Yellow means it's about to turn red and you should come to a stop. Drivers who rear-end the cars in front who are coming to a stop need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and be sued for huge dollars for their gross negligence behind the wheel.

Drivers complaining about red-light cameras causing rear-end crashes in these situations are back-handedly extolling the virtues of criminal negligence behind the wheel.

Webmaster12, if you rear-end me when I come to a stop at a light, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

It's not about revenue for the government entities, it's all about safety and not putting others at risk. It's about time you woke up and smelled the coffee.

Posted by: musiclover2 | March 4, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"If you can't tax it directly, enact a web of fines and easy-to-violate laws which allow you to hand out tickets as fast as candy on Halloween."

Red Light Camera and Speed Camera fines are the "Stupid Tax". If you don't want to pay this "tax" don't be so stupid.

Running red lights, not stopping at the white "stop" line, etc. puts other drivers and pedestrians at danger.

I have seen complaints on this blog from people who passed the white stop line and received a ticket. I'm glad they did. It makes me so angry to see cars roll past the stop line and come to a stop blocking the crosswalk. This makes for a very dangerous situation as pedestrians then have to go around that car, walking in the roadway and not in the "designated pedestrian area" (i.e. the crosswalk).

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | March 4, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

UMDTerpsGirl, carry a hammer.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | March 4, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

It's either you stop and possibly get rear ended or run the light, T-bone a car who had a green light, and possibly cause a fatality. One decision is def a no win.

Posted by: bjkas | March 4, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I've seen articles that say that the incidence of rear-end collisions increases when red-light cameras are installed at intersections.

It would also be nice to know how many of those who ran red lights subsequently caused a collision at that intersection. Studies have shown that red-light running causes only 4% of all traffic accidents.

"webmaster12" suggested alternative safety measures. Studies have shown that 80% of red-light running occurs within one second after the light turns red. Studies also show that when the yellow timing is increased by that one second, red-light running decreases significantly.

Red-light and speed cameras are 90% about revenue and 10% about safety.

Posted by: MrBethesda | March 4, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Yes, one can get some safety effect by extending the yellow. Extending yellows cuts into green times, though, thereby reducing the capacity of the road segments at that intersection.

So, you want to get a similar safety effect while making congestion measureably worse. Just so we are all clear on the tradeoff.

Posted by: krickey7 | March 4, 2011 5:45 PM | Report abuse

More information about Montgomery County, population 950,000: In 2010 there were 29 fatal traffic accidents. Amazingly, 17 were single car crashes with no other vehicle involved. As far as I could determine, red-light running was NOT involved in any of the 29. Seven occurred when the driver lost control of his motorcycle. Only 7 occurred at an intersection, usually when one vehicle making a left turn was was hit by a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction.

And what about pedestrians?
"According to a Governors Highway Safety Association study, Maryland is one of only four states, including the District of Columbia, where pedestrians are involved in more than 20 percent of traffic fatalities. Similarly, Maryland is one of only a few states with pedestrian fatality rate of more than two per 100,000 residents [113 in 2009]."

This just reinforces the belief that red-light cameras are not about safety but about revenue.

Posted by: MrBethesda | March 4, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

As long as cities, legislators and sheriff's departments continue to misdirect people to believe that the solution to red light running is by enforcement, crashes and fatalities will ensue to the end of the time.

The problem lies with traffic engineering. If traffic engineers only obeyed Newton's Laws of Motion when setting up yellow lights, then people would have no problem obeying the law.

Traffic engineers use ITE's yellow light equation to set up yellow lights. That equation is a half-truth. Half of the equation expresses Newton's Second Law of Motion; the other half is a reprehensible engineering failure which creates the dilemma zone--a zone of indecision which mathematically guarantees a steady stream of cars running red light lights.

Traffic engineers do not know physics. They don't understand the bad things that happen when they alter an equation of motion. They (Institute of Traffic Engineers) invented this equation back in 1965 and called it a "revolutionary way of handing yellow lights." I agree with that. An equation which opposed the laws of the universe is indeed revolutionary.

The solution to the WHOLE problem, is to use Newton's Second Law in its entirety to set the yellow light. Set the yellow light time to the time that it takes for a car to brake to stop--not TO HALF THE time.

Posted by: KingCanute | March 5, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

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