Editorial: Crosswalks Need Cameras

By / Editorials / Tuesday, 04 September 2018 14:52

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council should consider installing high definition cameras at crosswalks on Dow Road and Lake Park Blvd. Since these crosswalks were installed at various times in recent years, the Town has regularly fielded complaints from citizens about motorists that ignore State Law and drive right through a crosswalk while pedestrians are present.
Even at the crosswalk at Atlanta Avenue and South Lake Park Blvd near the Carolina Beach Lake where a bright LED light system was installed to alert motorists of the presence of pedestrians in the crosswalk, motorists still commonly disobey the rules and drive right through.
The Carolina Beach Police Department obviously can't position officers at all crosswalks in Town due to the cost of labor, resources and the need for officers to be on patrol rather than in fixed locations. The obvious solution is to install high definition cameras that are activated when a pedestrian activates the crosswalk sign. The system can snap a shot of the license plate of any vehicle violating the law. A daily review of the photos would allow the police department to mail tickets to offenders. If this isn't currently permitted by State Law, local leaders can request State Legislators consider new legislation permitting that type of system.
In 2013, the City of Washington D.C. (Different state) installed cameras at crosswalks for that purpose. Their cameras also capture people speeding and motorists running red lights.
Carolina Beach doesn't need to get into the red light camera business, but the expense of installing similar systems at our crosswalks would at least serve to educate offenders through a penalty for willfully violating a most important traffic law.
No situation is 100% perfect. People speed. People roll through Stop Signs and run red lights. However, there are steps that can be taken.
If a bright flashing light isn't enough to deter violations, perhaps a large sign alerting people to the presence of a camera and the cost of a ticket will serve to make crosswalks more safe for pedestrians.
Other options include parking police vehicles at these crosswalks when a vehicle is not in use. Motorists who see police vehicles tend to pay more attention.
The video and still photos captured by those cameras would also serve as valuable evidence in cases where pedestrians are struck by vehicles when using a crosswalk.
The video and photos can be stored for a predetermined amount of time, such as 72 hours. Just a thought for consideration.
On August 31st, Town Manager Michael Cramer inquired about installing cameras at crosswalks.
Cramer sent an email to Stonewall Davis Mathis, PE, Deputy Division Traffic Engineer ,Division Traffic Services – Division 3 of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
In Cramer's email he wrote, "I have a very innovative town council.  You know we have the flashing crosswalk signs at several intersection on Lake Park Blvd.  Well we still get drivers blowing through the intersections with the lights are flashing.  My council would like to know if NCDOT would authorize a “Red Light Camera” type system at the crosswalks.  They would like to be able to capture a photo of someone violation the rules and send them a citation.  Question:  Would NCDOT approve such a system?, Question: IS there a company that you know of that does that?"
Hopefully the Department of Transportation will agree to the installation of those cameras.
Also on August 31st, Cramer advised Mayor Joe Benson in an email stating, "Although this is an innovative suggestion I can find no other community that performs this operation.  “Red Light Camera” type systems cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars and none of them are set up to perform this function.  The one vendor I talked to stated it may not be cost effective to develop and implement a system.  I am still looking and researching."

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