Accidents at Palm Beach County intersections with red-light traffic cameras fell by 2 percent, while those without the devices saw a 12 percent drop in crashes, according to a report released by county traffic engineers this week.
The six-page study looked at accidents reported at intersections with red-right cameras in the eight months before and after the ticketing systems were installed. County traffic engineers compared those numbers to crashes reported at nearby intersections without the cameras.
County commissioners last month asked administrators to evaluate the county’s network of red-light traffic cameras.
The commission will decide Tuesday whether to extend its contract with American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based company that runs the county’s 10 traffic cameras, or abandon the ticketing system.
The county has not made money from the cameras since they were installed 19 months ago. During that time frame, American Traffic Solutions has been paid more than $568,000 to operate the system.
Meanwhile, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman said, deputies spend about 10 hours a week reviewing photos captured by the cameras. The county is required to pay for the cost of that review, officials said.
The county’s analysis showed that 175 accidents were reported at four county intersections with red-light cameras during the eight months before the devices were installed. That number fell to 171 in the eight months after the cameras were installed.
During the same eight months before the cameras, the county said there were 153 accidents reported at four other nearby intersections. The crash total at those intersections fell to 134 in the eight months after the cameras were activated elsewhere.
County Engineer George Webb said Thursday that his department would not make recommendations based on its findings, noting that the results varied depending on the locations.
A study released by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles this year found that of the 73 law enforcement agencies that use cameras, 41 reported fewer accidents, 11 reported more accidents and the rest saw no change or didn’t have enough information from the previous year to compare.
Agencies in Palm Beach County reported a decrease in side-impact crashes, rear-end crashes and total crashes at intersections with the cameras, the report said.
Webb said that his department’s analysis looked solely at accidents reported to the county.
“They were doing it on a big picture,” Webb said of the state’s findings. “We are looking at the accident reports that have made it into the county’s database.”
The county’s analysis also looked at accidents reported at intersections with traffic cameras operated by West Palm Beach, Palm Springs and Boynton Beach.
At the intersection of Australian Avenue and Banyan Boulevard in West Palm Beach, the county compared the number of accidents reported in the two years before and after a camera was installed there. The study found accidents increased by 41 percent at the intersection.
West Palm Beach Spokesman Elliot Cohen said Thursday the city has not done its own analysis, adding that seasonal traffic increases made it difficult to evaluate the cameras.
“We have no way of doing a valid study where all the conditions were the same,” Cohen said.
In Boynton Beach, the county evaluated accidents at four intersections with cameras and compared them to crashes reported at four nearby intersections without the devices.
The report found that accidents fell by 25 percent at intersections with the cameras. During the same time period, the intersections without cameras saw a 20 percent drop in crashes.
In Palm Springs, accidents climbed 12 percent after officials installed a red-light camera at the intersection of Congress and 10th avenues, the county found. The number of crashes at the intersection of Congress and 6th avenues, which does not have a camera, rose by 5 percent during the same time period, the report said.
Palm Springs last month said it would not renew its contract with American Traffic Solutions, ending nearly three years of camera enforcement.