Pittsburgh is at least a couple of months away from approving red-light cameras to monitor dangerous intersections, but council members seem willing to try the concept on a pilot basis.
Council discussed the concept of red-light cameras at a meeting Wednesday with state, industry and public safety officials. The state Legislature last year added Pittsburgh to Philadelphia as the only areas allowed to issue tickets based on cameras identifying cars that run red lights, and the city is studying whether to implement the program here.
"I think there are several members of council who seem willing to try it on a pilot basis," said Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who chairs the public safety committee. "There's still a lot of work to do."
Among the details to be worked out is who would oversee the program, which is run in Philadelphia by the parking authority. Ms. Kail-Smith said more meetings will be held.
Under the program, anyone caught by a camera running a red light will receive a $100 ticket by mail. Construction and administrative fees come out of that money so there is no cost to the city.
To avoid a city money grab, the rest goes to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. There, a committee comprised of four state officials and four city appointees doles out the money for traffic safety projects across the state with special preference given to the city where the fines were generated.
State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins, has been watching the red-light camera program since it began in Philadelphia in 2004. It was first used as a pilot on Roosevelt Boulevard, which was high on the list of the most dangerous roads in the country but now doesn't even make the list.
Mr. Costa and Richard Retting, director of safety and research for Sam Schwartz Engineering and former director of traffic safety for New York City, said the presence of cameras has a positive impact on safety. Mr. Retting said studies show a reduction of 40 to 90 percent in the number of accidents where red-light cameras are used.
"It's fair to say hundreds of lives have been saved" as a result of the cameras, Mr. Retting said.
Mr. Costa said the presence of cameras also causes drivers to be more cautious on nearby streets as well.
"The fact is a camera being there does change behavior," he said.
Ed Blazina: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1470.