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Bend Considers Automated Traffic Enforcement

BEND, OR -- Bend’s Police Department is researching red light camera and photo radar programs. Chief Mike Krantz told the City Council Wednesday night, other Oregon cities saw significant reductions in speeding, running red lights and serious crashes after implementing similar systems. 

Such programs are funded by the tickets they issue and managed by the vendor, "The citation is issued by them, they do all the mailing. When a citation is paid, they take a portion out of that." The department does have to approve the violation. "Photo-enforcement systems, the goal of those are not to make money. They are to self-fund. But it’s motivated by safety, that we want to change behavior around traffic problems that are occurring that cause severe damage and harm in our community. This is one tool. It is not the tool."

He says public surveys consistently show speeding and running red lights are primary concerns in Bend.

If implemented, the system would be installed at the biggest trouble-spots. "We would benefit from maybe a minimum of five intersections, based on data that we’re seeing; at least as a pilot program to start with," says Krantz. Those red light cameras would also have the ability to catch someone speeding through the intersection. "We’d benefit from a mobile photo radar trailer, as well. So we could have different options and move through the residential areas or school zones, as well as construction zones, if we could."

Councilor Megan Perkins was pleased the proposal also includes a mobile option, for locations without a traffic light, "Due to the unique nature of Bend, and there are a lot of people that are driving unsafely on roads that do not have intersections, especially around school zones." She and other Councilors wanted assurances the program would roll out equitably, with locations around the city. Krantz explained the vendor changes locations as problems are resolved, "What they’ve seen by experience is that by five years, their return, because behavior changes, is highly diminished. So their goal is to either move it after five years or remove it after five years because they’ve seen behavior change."

Councilors gave the green light Wednesday for Krantz to gather bids from vendors, but said there would be extensive community outreach before automated traffic enforcement begins.

file photo

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