12 INVESTIGATES: Petersburg takes in $75K from red light cameras

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Petersburg wants to add even more red light cameras to the city - but is it for your safety or their wallet?

12 Investigates first told you about the red light cameras coming to Petersburg in January. In the short time those cameras have been up and running, Petersburg has already made thousands of dollars off red light violators.

In just the first five months, three sets of cameras at two different intersections have generated more than 5,200 tickets. According to the city's finance department, those who've paid the $50 dollar fine have given the city an extra $75,000.

That money goes into the general pot in Petersburg and could end up paying for anything.

The city would not tell us how much the company that installed the cameras has made, but according to their contract, RedFlex is supposed to get around $14,000 a month, which would be paid for by the red-light-running tickets.

Petersburg Police Department spokesperson Esther Hyatt said the number of tickets written in the last two months is starting to drop.

"So it shows that people having a safer driving behavior, which is really what we want," said Hyatt. "[The cameras are about] safety and encouraging people to drive safely and avoiding accidents. Especially accidents that result in injury."

Though we've discovered accidents have actually increased. In all of 2011, there were just two crashes at Crater and Wagner. So far this year, and with cameras watching, there were three - including a rear-end crash we caught, just moments after it happened on the very first day the cameras were operational.

Petersburg Police said they don't want to have any accidents but point out, because of the cameras, "we were able to review, so we could see it exactly, what happened, who was at fault, and that helped the investigation move much more quickly."

Petersburg wants to add cameras to a third intersection. The city still has to do an engineering study and has not announced which intersection it's eyeing.

The city says, when the cameras are ready to go, there will be ample warning given to you - and by law, you'll get a grace period.

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