The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

LMPD set to install red light cameras within district

Proposal for red-light cameras emerges due to high traffic within certain parts of LM.

In early March, the Lower Merion Police Department (LMPD) announced the possibility of red-light cameras coming to Lower Merion Township. The cameras would be more comprehensive than the speed displays that are already seen around the township. The current cameras only tell drivers their speed in comparison to the speed limit. Red light cameras- which capture the license plate numbers of drivers who run red lights- would be a new program for the area, but it would not be the first time that the concept has been tried. 

Red-light cameras have become very common across the United States since they were first installed in New York in 1990, but Pennsylvania has been comparatively slow to adopt them. Currently, the only areas in the Commonwealth that have them are Abington and Philadelphia, as well as Bensalem and Warrington Townships in Bucks County. While PA is somewhat behind in technology, data shows that implementation of these enforcement measures is effective. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a national leader in research on traffic safety, found that “cameras reduce the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 14 percent.” However, getting the camera system up and running is a complicated process that involves the police department, township, and the state.  Some roads in the township like Lancaster Avenue and Conshohocken State road are maintained by the state department of transportation, or PennDOT, and the installation of cameras requires approval from that agency as well. That process could take a while, as the state has sixty days to approve or deny the cameras after they receive a list of intersections where they would be installed.

Graphic by Ilana Zahavy ’25/Staff

This is not the first time that red-light cameras have been proposed in the township. In 2013, there was a similar proposal to implement the technology. However, many residents and the police commissioner were not in favor of the idea or its implementation at the time. Since more than a decade has passed since the idea was last floated, some members of the community may wonder what has changed to make an increase in enforcement necessary again.

The police department has not released specific information about why the camera system is being proposed again at this time. There are not any proposed locations or intersections yet, but the cameras will likely be located on busy, high-speed roads like Lancaster and Montgomery Avenue, since the speed limits on these streets are higher and they experience more traffic. Consequently, they are more prone to red-light violations. Township Commissioner Scott Zelov added that the cameras would be “only for intersections with significant crash history.” This is in line with the 2013 camera proposal, where one of the intersections considered was Lancaster Avenue at Haverford Station Road in Haverford.

If the cameras are installed, the penalty for offending drivers would not be any different than the standard penalties in Pennsylvania, which start at a $100 fine for the first ticket. There is some public pushback to the idea, as there generally is when red-light cameras are installed universally, but the police department believes that the cameras would be a helpful deterrent if installed.

In the coming months, the camera system proposal will be brought to the Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners, who will vote on whether or not they want to invest in its installation. Certain members of the Board are supportive of the cameras, with Zelov expressing the necessity for cameras: “It’s time for Lower Merion to implement this safety measure.” It should be noted that there would be no public vote on the cameras; whether or not they come to LM is entirely up to the Board. In any case, it remains to be seen if the Township will go through the process of implementing this proposed safety feature. IIf so, it would be a first for LM if red-light cameras do end up coming to our area.

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