Reducing the number of accidents at crash-prone intersections always has been the goal of Aurora's red-light camera program, and police Chief Greg Thomas said numbers show the effort is succeeding.
In 2011, Aurora saw a 7.5 percent decrease in accidents from 2010 totals at its five intersections with red-light cameras, Thomas said Tuesday night during his yearly red-light enforcement presentation to the city council.
The percentage decrease would have been even higher if not for technical difficulties with the camera system at Farnsworth Avenue and Molitor Road. Cameras there weren't operating much of the year and may have contributed to a 42 percent increase in accidents at that location in 2011, Thomas said.
All other intersections with cameras -- Commons Drive and New York Street; Eola Road and New York Street; Farnsworth Avenue and New York Street; and Ogden Avenue and Eola Road -- showed decreases in the number of accidents in 2011 when compared with 2010 totals.
Cameras first were installed at three intersections in mid-2009, with two more intersections going live in early 2011.
Alderman Mike Saville asked if police plan on installing more cameras -- up to the 20 allowed under the city's contact with Redflex Traffic Systems -- because they have proved successful in decreasing accidents.
Thomas said police are not planning on installing all 20 cameras because their effectiveness changes based on the characteristics of each intersection and having too many cameras on one road is something to avoid.
"You don't want to litter a whole roadway with cameras," Thomas said.
An intersection must be the site of at least 20 crashes a year before being considered to receive a red-light camera, Thomas said. On Aurora's far east side, 19 intersections meet the 20-crash criteria and three of them have cameras. On the near east side, five locations have at least 20 crashes a year, and two have cameras. But on the west side, none of the four intersections that play host to 20 or more crashes a year have cameras.
Thomas said that's because many of them are on Orchard Road, which is controlled by Kane County.
When Aurora began operating more cameras in 2011, its payments to Redflex also increased because the Arizona-based company charges a set amount for each camera and a fee for each ticket. The red-light camera program, including revenue from ticketing drivers for violations, brought in $232,000 in 2011, down from $289,000 in 2010, Thomas said.
"It's a decrease that, to me, is a good thing even though we had more cameras operating in 2011 than 2010," he said. "It's not about revenue, it's about crash reduction."