Running a red light in Savannah without getting caught is getting harder to do. There are now red light cameras at three busy Abercorn Street intersections.
City officials told us they would start using the cameras today to send out warning tickets, but the cameras aren't ready yet. They are still going through final testing. When they are finally operational, watch out.
There's been a camera operating at White Bluff and Abercorn. New cameras will soon go live at Mall Boulevard and Abercorn and DeRenne Avenue and Abercorn.
"As long as I don't get caught they're great," said motorist Lois Lavrisa.
The city installed them to cut down on accidents. "If that works, then that's one way of having an effective deterrent," said motorist Bill Flammer.
While the cameras are designed to make the intersections safer, the are also a cash cow for the city. So far just the one camera at Abercorn and White Bluff has generated more than $700,000. That's about 14,500 tickets in past 15 months.
Will the two new cameras be just as productive and profitable? "I anticipate the same thing happening," said the city's Sean Brandon. "Initially, the first few months of a very high number, then constant decrease month after month."
For example, in December 2003, soon after the first red light camera was operating, the city mailed out more than 1,500 tickets. One year later, the number decreased dramatically, to about 700 tickets.
Here's another way to look at it: tickets dropped from 40 a day to 18.
"People are starting to get the idea, they're slowing down more," Brandon said.
Which is exactly why the cameras are there.
We don't know exactly when the city will finish testing the cameras, but the goal is to start issuing tickets by February 14. The money goes into the city's general fund. They're using it for traffic and public safety, including more red light cameras.