Red light camera audit: Costly but effective

The audit shows only 39% of photos from the cameras resulted in a ticket

A new audit shows red light cameras in Portland are helping cut down on crashes, but they're also losing the city money, July 23, 2015. (KOIN)
A new audit shows red light cameras in Portland are helping cut down on crashes, but they're also losing the city money, July 23, 2015. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new audit shows red light cameras in Portland are helping cut down on crashes, but they’re also losing the city money.

They’re controversial cameras that draw plenty of anger from those whose photos are taken.

“There is no one, we’re not against the light or anything, and it’s just snapping people’s photos,” motorist Kristina Oster said.

Although the report revealed only 39% of photos taken by red light cameras result in citations, both the city auditor and Portland police told KOIN 6 News the system is actually working — and working well.

There are currently 10 red light cameras at intersections across the city. (KOIN)
There are currently 10 red light cameras at intersections across the city. (KOIN)

“In all the cases they reduced the number of accidents including both t-bone and rear-end collisions,” Director of Audit Services Drummond Kahn said.

Portland currently has red light cameras stationed at 10 intersections across the city. Although public perception isn’t entirely positive, auditors said the program is improving safety.

But the audit also revealed in 2 of 5 years studied, the red light camera program lost money.

“The point of it is public safety,” Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson said. “If it changes people’s behavior, that’s great because that is the goal. If that means you lose some money on a program, you are still changing people’s behavior for the positive.”

In fact, Portland police said this audit proves the photos are carefully studied, and the program’s purpose isn’t just to make money.

But with talk of adding more red light cameras and creating a fixed photo radar system, the audit concluded it would require a level of coordination between police and the transportation bureau that currently does not exist.

“We’re looking at the law changes,” Simpson said. “We’re doing it thoughtfully, doing it in locations that need it the most and the whole goal is public safety.”

You can read the full red light camera audit by clicking here.

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