Are red light cameras in St. Petersburg making streets safer?
That's one of the questions city council members asked Thursday when they received the findings of a new report.
The report was conducted after Mayor Bill Foster's announcement to put more cameras on the city's streets. But the 122-page report may raise more questions than answers about the controversial cameras.
The study showed that these types of red light runner crashes have decreased by 25 percent, but overall crashes are up 10 percent.
Thursday, the City Council tried to figure out what that means, and whether they should do away with the cameras or add more.
"The data that shows that crashes are up 10 percent does not lend credence to putting in 9 more cameras," Wengay Newton with the City Council said.
The study also showed that serious injuries caused by red light runners are down by 39 percent. But since the overall number of crashes are up, the cameras aren't stopping all bad driving habits.
"I would assert that the number one cause of crash is driving with a cell phone," Mayor Foster said.
The mayor says the red the cameras are doing exactly what they're supposed to do: stopping red light runners. He wants the council to approve adding more cameras.
"Red light cameras are designed to stop blatant red light running. They aren't there to stop distracted drivers or plain stupid drivers who want to drive like a fool," Mayor Foster said.
However, the city did state that reducing the number of overall crashes was a goal of the red light camera program. That has not happened, so for now the program will continue to get a green light.
On the flip side, cameras have caught more than 36,000 drivers running lights and the city has collected more than $700,000 in fines. But, according to the report, the total is about 17 percent less than expected.
According to the report, cameras caught the most drivers running red lights at the intersection of 34th Street and 38th Avenue North.