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I see the Mayor is getting out his signs again this year. This is a welcome sight because he deserves another term for...

Breakdown shows red light cameras catch more out-of-town drivers

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A sign warns of the red light camera at the intersection of Arlington Boulevard and South Memorial Drive on April 27, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Traffic cameras are now recording about 60 red-light violations daily in Greenville, and the latest data from the company that manages those cameras has revealed a major culprit: out-of-town drivers. 

In a memo to the City Council last week, the Greenville Police Department included the first “monthly scorecard,” summarizing results of the 10 cameras scattered across five intersections in the city. 

The cameras were installed by American Traffic Solutions in October, and after a one-month warning period, were actived in November. Since then, the program has generated 8,228 tickets, not including tickets in April, according to information from the department. 

Kristen Hunter, public information officer for the police department, said the data in the scorecard is compiled by American Traffic Solutions. According to the data, the most citations are issued for the intersection of Arlington and Greenville boulevards. Of the total 1,677 citations issued in March at the five intersections, 745 came from the intersection. 

Elsewhere, 307 violation were recorded at 14th Street and Charles Boulevard, 257 at Charles and Fire Tower Road, 204 and Memorial Drive and Arlington, and 164 at Arlington and Fire Tower.

At $100 a ticket, expected revenue from the violations between November and March comes to about $822,800. The school system keeps $69.15 per ticket, pays American Traffic Solutions $31.85 per ticket and the city $6,250 a month for an officer who ultimately approves each citation.

The data reported that 61 percent of citations were issued to vehicles registered to owners who live outside of the city of Greenville, suggesting students and residents from neighboring communities and counties are responsible for the majority of the citations.

Hunter said the department did not have a exact breakdown of where the vehicles were registered, but it was not surprising to find out about the percentage. 

“That is not an unusual statistic,” she said. “It typically takes drivers who live within the city a shorter amount of time to adjust/familiarize themselves with the cameras than those who may travel the streets less frequently.”

Other trends reported in the scorecard include that most violations are recorded between 3-4 p.m. daily and the busiest day is Friday. 

Tickets per month have leveled off since the program began, with a small spike in December: 1,326 were issued in November; 2,013 in December; 1,542 in January; 1,670 in February; and 1,677 in March. April’s number are not available until sometime in May. 

The Pitt County Board of Education has not yet determined how funding from the cameras will be used, but have had discussions about using it for school security updates. The funding was previously on hold due to a lawsuit filed in September by William Kozel, who argued the cameras were infringing on his constitutional rights. 

His case was dismissed in Pitt Superior Court on April 16 after Judge Alma Hinton ruled Kozel could not prove the cameras has caused him any harm because he had not received a ticket and did not own a car.

Travis Lewis, the school system’s public information officer, said the Pitt County Board of Education has been cleared to use the funding as needed but is awaiting a decision by the Pitt County Board of Commissioners on their annual budget allotment before allocating the camera funds.

Contact Seth Gulledge at Sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579. Follow him on Twitter @GulledgeSeth

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