Beware: Run the red and get caught on film

By Lynn R. Parks

Starting this past Monday, owners of cars that are caught on camera going through the red light at Tharp Road and US 13 in Seaford are being fined. According to Michael Svaby of the Delaware Department of Transportation, the cameras on the southbound lanes of US 13 have been active since April 21. Until Monday, running the red light meant that the car owner could receive a warning only. Now, owners of cars that are caught going through the red light could be charged with civil violations and be subject to fines of $75. Cameras are also set to be installed on the northbound lanes of US 13, to monitor cars that are turning left onto Tharp Road and onto the southbound lanes of 13. Svaby said that engineering difficulties with the placement of the cameras delayed their installation; he expects them to be up and running in mid-June. There will be no warning period with those cameras. Rather than for the convenience of the public, the warning period allows the police jurisdiction, in this case the Seaford Police Department, to get used to the procedure and with checking the photos for violations, Svaby said. The Seaford department will already be used to the procedure
when the second camera is active. The cameras are monitored by Nestor Traffic Systems, based in East Providence, R. I. The video system, mounted on poles or overhead arms, is triggered by a car that is going too fast to stop at the red light. Nestor evaluates each video, then sends those that could show violations to the local police department. If the department agrees that there is a violation, it notifies Nestor, which then sends a citation to the owner of the vehicle. During the time that offenders received warnings only, Svaby said that 824 cars were recorded going through the red light. Of those, only 251 car owners received warnings. Svaby said that the owner of the vehicle has three options: pay the fine, argue that someone else was driving the car-owners are liable for the fine unless they submit an affidavit with the name of the driver-or appeal the citation. In most cases, appeals are heard in Justice of the Peace Courts. If the appeal is lost, the car owner is charged $35 in addition to the fine. Daily average vehicle count at the intersection is 14,367. A preliminary camera installed there by DelDOT counted 156 cars that ran the red light in a 24-hour period.

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