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Albemarle County Newsroom
 


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County's Photosafe Program Begins 30-Day Warning Period November 12 at 1AM
11/10/2010

Violators will be mailed notice but no fine will be assessed

Albemarle County’s PhotoSafe program, a photo-based traffic safety system to monitor red light runners at dangerous intersections in the County, will become operational with a 30-day warning period beginning on Friday morning, November 12, at 1:00 am. Cameras are installed at the intersection of Route 29 North and Rio Road as the first Photosafe location in the County.  During the 30-day warning period, notification letters will be mailed to violators but no fine will be assessed so that people will have time to become aware of the PhotoSafe program. The system is expected to go live with actual enforcement and fines beginning on December 11.

Highlights of the PhotoSafe Program:

  • Only vehicles that enter the intersection a half second after the light turns red will trigger the camera system.
  • Signs are located within 500 feet of each photo enforcement intersection to give all motorists ample stopping time to prevent rear end collisions and to remind motorists to comply with the traffic signal laws. 
  • Timing of the yellow and red light sequencing is controlled by the Virginia Department of Transportation and yellow sequences have not been shortened at the Route 29 North/Rio Road intersection since installation of the cameras.
  • The cameras are a more effective and cost-efficient deterrent to red light running than assigning police officers to the intersection to provide the same level of 24 hour a day, 7 day a week enforcement.
  • The camera system vendor reviews the violation before sending the still photographs and video to the police department.  A sworn police officer will review the violation and has the option to either Accept or Reject the information as a red light running violation.  
  • No photos will be taken of the inside of the vehicle or of any vehicle occupants.
  • Violators have an opportunity to view their violation online and to appeal the violation in court.
  • There is a $50.00 civil fine for each photo enforced red light running violation.
  • The registered vehicle owner will receive the summons for the violation, as well as information about how to contest the fine.

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance last year regarding the PhotoSafe program, and the County was authorized to place cameras at up to nine intersections based on the state standard of one intersection per 10,000 residents.  Since that time, County police and other staff have been working closely with VDOT to establish the program and to select the intersections that meet the state’s standards for permitting red light camera enforcement.  VDOT officials have approved the County’s program and have issued permits for installation of the camera system at the Route 29 North and Rio Road intersection based on the significant number of red light running violations and crashes that have occurred at that location.  Other intersection locations will be considered in the future.

Complete information about PhotoSafe, including a program overview, Frequently Asked Questions and a 90 second animated video which shows the system in action, is available on the County website at www.albemarle.org/photosafe.

How Does It Work?

Signs are located within 500 feet of each photo enforcement intersection in an effort to remind motorists to comply with the traffic signal laws. The camera system is constantly in operation but will only trigger when a violation occurs during the red light cycle.  The system is wired to the traffic lights and to sensors that are buried in the roadway. Vehicles that cross the sensors after the signal has turned red for one half a second are in violation and activate the camera system.  Each vehicle that is in violation is photographed 3 times and a 12-second video is also produced documenting the violation.

  • The first photo is taken at the stop bar as evidence to show that the light was red prior to the vehicle entering the intersection.
  • The second photo is the vehicle’s license plate for identification purposes.
  • The third photo is taken to show evidence of the vehicle proceeding through the intersection while the light is still red.

The photographed documentation of the red light violation is evidence for the police department to issue a civil penalty to the owner of the vehicle.

What is the Penalty?

There is a $50.00 civil fine for each photo enforced red light running violation. No court costs are associated with the fine and there are no driver license points assessed and no insurance implications for a violation. By law, the Department of Motor Vehicles and insurance companies cannot be notified of the offense. This violation does not affect drivers that are on probation with the court or with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Who Is Responsible?

The operator of the vehicle is responsible for the fine. The video and photographed evidence of the red light violation will be available for review and inspection by the registered owner of the vehicle.


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