red lights

Four intersections in Colorado Springs will have red-light cameras up and working this year. Vehicles pass through North Carefree Circle and North Academy Boulevard in the northbound lanes last week. In 2016, the Seattle-based online insurance comparison site QuoteWizard found Colorado drivers to be the worst in the nation when it comes to signaling, running red lights and wearing a seat belt.

Four intersections will get red-light cameras in an effort to slow this year’s high traffic-death rate, Colorado Springs officials have decided.

The cameras will be at the northbound lanes of Academy Boulevard at North Carefree Circle, the southbound lanes of Academy at Dublin Boulevard, the eastbound lanes of East Platte Avenue at Chelton Road, and the westbound lanes of Briargate Boulevard at Lexington Drive.

Colorado Springs residents Patricia Hynek, 31, and Alford Mannix Jr., 48, died in separate motorcycle crashes last weekend near North Carefree Circle and Academy Boulevard.

“This is not a money issue. This is a safety issue, folks,” Presiding Municipal Judge HayDen Kane II told the City Council on Tuesday. “We have 32 deaths already this year within the city. We’re probably going to get to 50.”

The city had 22 traffic-related deaths at this time last year, said police Lt. Howard Black.

But by year’s end, the city saw a record 39 traffic fatalities.

Residents opposed red-light cameras installed at four intersections under former Mayor Steve Bach in November 2010. The public distaste, including privacy concerns, led to removal of the devices in 2011.

City officials are ready to try again, though. And contrary to detractors’ arguments, they say the cameras are meant to bolster safety rather than raise revenue from fines.

Last summer, the Police Department began investigating which intersections would benefit most from the cameras. Preliminary reports showed that many intersections with the highest crash rates sit along Interstate 25.

Black said more information on the choice of cameras will be released later.

Mayor John Suthers said the cameras can have a ripple effect on drivers.

“They have a general notion, but they forget exactly which intersection it is, so it has the effect of making people a lot more careful within a radius,” Suthers said.

That’s a good thing, said Police Chief Pete Carey.

“I want them to say, ‘Maybe we ought to slow down on Platte. Maybe we ought to slow down on Academy,’” he said.

The cameras should be working by this fall, as the Police Department recently finalized its contract with American Traffic Solutions, and construction is underway, Carey said.

The program is intended to be cost neutral, and six more cameras could be added next year, he said.

Carey suggested the council members brace for opposition, though his department is working to educate the public on traffic dangers.

“We’re doing a lot of (public service announcements) and things like that on distracted driving, speeding, red light running,” he said. “It’s tough right now, and it’s getting really bad.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this article posted an incorrect intersection for one red light camera location.

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