There has been an overall decrease in the number of car crashes near red-light camera systems installed at four locations in Oak Ridge five years ago, and vehicle speeds have dropped near two schools, officials said.
Council members had requested information about crash frequency and history as the controversial five-year red-light camera contract, approved in August 2008, comes up for renewal in April. The crash information, as well as data on vehicle speeds, is included in the agenda packet for a Monday night Oak Ridge City Council work session.
The information said the largest crash reduction occurred at Oak Ridge Turnpike and Lafayette Drive/New York Avenue. Accidents there fell from 86 to 58, or roughly 33 percent, and injuries fell from 25 to 13, about a 50 percent reduction.
The totals compared the number of crashes from one four-year period starting March 2005 and ending March 2009, and a second period starting April 2009 and ending in November 2013, or a little more than four years.
There was also a significant crash reduction near a second set of cameras on Oak Ridge Turnpike between the Civic Center and High School. Crashes there fell from 71 to 57, although injuries fell only slightly, from 16 to 14.
The number of crashes near a third set of cameras at North Illinois Avenue and Robertsville Road stayed the same at 23, although injuries fell from eight to five, according to the information, which was supplied by the Oak Ridge Police Department.
In both time periods, there were zero crashes near a fourth set of cameras at Robertsville Road near Willow Brook Elementary School.
Reports of property damage fell at the two Oak Ridge Turnpike camera locations—from 55 to 43 near the Civic Center, and from 61 to 45 near New York Avenue—but increased slightly at North Illinois Avenue and Robertsville Road, climbing from 15 to 18.
The camera vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., said the cameras have reduced the speed of drivers in school zones where “traffic is free flowing” by an average of 4.94 percent during non-school zone times and by 14.33 percent when reduced school zone speed limits are in effect.
The largest reduction from 2009 to 2013 occurred in the westbound lanes on Oak Ridge Turnpike near the high school when the school zone was in effect. Vehicle speeds there dropped from 22.2 mph in 2009 to 16.75 mph in 2013, a 24.55 percent reduction.
The second largest drop occurred among eastbound drivers near the high school. Their average speed dropped from 21 mph in a school zone in 2009 to 18.17 in 2013, a 13.48 percent reduction.
The statistics said there was a drop in vehicle speeds at all cameras near the high school and Willow Brook, both when school zones were in effect and when they were not. The changes ranged from a 1.67 percent reduction to 24.55 percent.
The camera systems at Oak Ridge Turnpike and New York Avenue, and North Illinois Avenue and Robertsville Road, can both issue $50 citations to drivers who speed or run red lights. The other two systems near the high school and Willow Brook only issue tickets for speeding.
Tonight’s non-voting City Council work session starts at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Services Complex at 100 Woodbury Lane, behind the Kroger shopping center. See the agenda here.