Jacksonville, FL - One of the keys to making your drive safer is waiting in the wings.
After a WOKV investigation found the number of crashes at many intersections monitored by red light cameras has actually risen since the cameras were installed, Jacksonville’s Sheriff told us there’s not much beyond education efforts that can be done to improve safety at these intersections. He says they’re still waiting on the one change that could make a difference- crash avoidance technology, known as HALO.
When HALO is added to an intersection, it essentially uses the speed and distance of a car to determine whether it appears it will run a red light. If it senses a car will do that, it will still allow the light to change to red- meaning the violation would occur- but it would hold up the light in the other direction. That means the intersection would briefly see red in all directions, so the car would likely run the red, but no other car would be in its path.
“I think it’s great for us to be able to see and use technology to avoid crashes in the future,” says Florida Department of Transportation Spokesman Ron Tittle.
JSO says the HALO technology is held up right now by ongoing testing and pending state certification. The FDOT is also working to issue permits around the installations, including any needed lane closures.
Between the two departments, there is no clear timeline for when this potentially life-saving technology will be coming to your drive.
“We just don’t have that information right yet about the timing,” Tittle says.
Rutherford says the technology would be especially significant for cutting down side impact crashes. Our investigation found that most red light camera intersections did see a drop in side impact crashes, although rear impact was on the rise nearly across the board.
The company which Jacksonville contracts for red light cameras- Redflex- has committed to installing the HALO technology at five approaches identified by JSO for no charge. That includes both directions of Atlantic Boulevard at Monument Road, Atlantic Boulevard eastbound at Southside Boulevard, and both directions of Beach Boulevard at University Boulevard.
Records we obtained regarding the number of crashes happening at those intersections shows Atlantic and Monument is one of the locations that have seen an increase in crashes since red light cameras were installed, while the other two have seen fewer. The number of rear impact crashes at Atlantic and Monument is up more than 103%, side impact down 54%. Beach and University is up 8% in rear impact, down 40% in side impact. Atlantic and Southside saw an increase in both types of crashes- rear impact up 32% and side impact up 12%.
Tittle says Redflex has also agreed to install HALO at two other locations without red light cameras identified by FDOT, which would be used to test the technology and gather data. FDOT has selected 103rd and Blanding Boulevard as well as Ocean and Union in Downtown. HALO would be placed there for an undetermined amount of time to allow them to collect information from non-red light camera intersections and then removed, unless JSO intervened.
JSO has actually identified 103rd and Blanding as one of the next intersections for a red light camera, however a date for installing the camera has not been set.
“This gives us that information we need going ahead,” Tittle says.
And going ahead could mean change outside of just Jacksonville.
“If this is approved, then this could become a system that’s used statewide,” Tittle says.
He believes the process has been moving forward well, considering all of the steps required to undergo such sophisticated and potentially significant testing. JSO spoke about the hope to install the technology as soon as the first camera was installed more than a year and a half ago, and even before that.
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