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Are Colorado's red-light cameras making us safer?

Posted at 11:42 AM, Feb 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-21 22:29:56-05

DENVER — Colorado's red-light camera debate is back in the spotlight, and Denver7 is taking a 360 look at all sides of the controversial topic.

Two Republican lawmakers recently sponsored a bill, HB 1072, that would have banned speed cameras and red-light cameras statewide.

Representative Stephen Humphrey and Senator Tim Neville introduced the bill, but it died in the House Transportation and Energy Committee last week.

"It is a money grab," driver Aleta Ulibarri said. "I don't think it's fair, but I guess they have to catch us criminals someway right [laughing]."

The perspective against the use of the cameras has been somewhat of a crusade against Big Brother. Tickets showing up in the mail with no real way for drivers to dispute the fine or explain what happened is another concern lawmakers have raised.

This isn't the first time lawmakers have tried to tackle the red-light camera debate. In 2016, a bill to restrict the devices made it all the way to Governor John Hickenlooper's desk, but he vetoed it, for the second year in a row.

Proponents of red-light cameras, including the Denver Police Department, argue the cameras reduce traffic accidents and deaths, and presented studies and data to lawmakers to back up their claims.

"Red-light cameras help prevent some of the more serious crashes," DPD's traffic investigation unit lieutenant Robert Rock said. "I just want to point to a common-sense perspective. We can put up a speed limit sign anywhere in the city; the fact that signs exist does not mean that everyone is gonna follow that."

Since red-light cameras were installed in 2018, Denver Public Works data shows crashes at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Lincoln have been reduced by 60 percent, and "T-bone" crashes, which are one of the deadliest types of collisions, have decreased 70 percent.

The City of Littleton voted to remove all five of its red-light cameras back in 2015 after a study there found they weren't reducing crashes or making the city any money.

"I think there's sort of a myth out there that these red-light cameras are a cash cow. In Littleton's case, they have had been a cash cow," Littleton spokeswoman Kelli Narde said at the time.

"Littleton, if they felt like that, was certainly their right to make that decision for themselves," Lt. Rock said.

Lt. Rock also said the agency believes it should be up to local governments to decide what's best for their city and is another reason he's against a statewide ban.

"It should be up to elected officials," he said. "Unless there is a consequence to violating that law than we still have a dangerous situation."

The truth is crashes are down in Denver, but is it because of the cameras and is it really about safety? That’s for you to decide.

"If folks don't want to get a ticket then don't run the red light and don't speed," Lt. Rock said.

Denver has a total of four intersections with red-light cameras. City officials said they were recently approved to purchase a mobile red-light camera that can move from one intersection to the next.

Editor's Note: Denver7 360 stories explore multiple sides of the topics that matter most Coloradans, bringing in different perspectives so you can make up your own mind about the issues. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at See more 360 stories here.