FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — In the last five years, there have been more than 3,400 citations given to drivers for running red lights in Fort Smith.
The growing problem has caused a lot of anger and frustration for some people. Now the city is stepping up to try and find a solution to put a stop to red light runners.
Since 2014, there have been more than 15,000 accidents in the city. Of those, less than 5% were caused by someone running a red light, 26 caused serious injuries and only one was fatal.
For Fort Smith police it’s one fatality too many.
“I’m encouraging a zero-tolerance approach from the officers,” said Interim Police Chief Danny Baker. “I cannot demand that they write a ticket, but I can certainly encourage them to take a zero-tolerance stance if they have a good solid violation.”
Baker says officers use direct enforcement where they patrol at a particular time and location like 74th and Rogers Ave.
The solutions board members are exploring include increasing the yellow-light time, adding an all-red clearance interval, making traffic lights more visible, improving intersections and retiming traffic signals.
In the meantime, one thing that does help police officers is their bodycams.
“There’s the capability that the officer can view their bodycam footage in the field via a cellular device,” Baker said. “They can check that video to see if they have a good solid violation.”
Board member Kevin Settle says red light cameras should be considered, but until state law can be changed he would like to see stiffer penalties for violators.
“I would like to see potentially looking at $250-500 for a city fine for running a red light so the deterrent is out there to stop people from running red lights,” Settle said.
That proposal would require a change to the city code and would allow the city to enact a fine on top of the state fine of $100.
Baker says the department has limited resources trying to enforce this problem, but they are working on hiring more police officers.