This Week Live: Blue lights will help catch red-light runners

THIS WEEK LIVE

Two key intersections in Burnsville are now outfitted with new technology to help police enforce red-light running.

The new tool, called an “enforcement light,” has been installed at the high-volume intersections of Highway 13 and County Road 5 and Highway 13 and County Road 11.

They are the first locations in Minnesota to have the technology. Burnsville and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) collaborated on the program.

The enforcement light, which turns blue when the traffic light turns red, enables police to observe violators and issue citations more effectively and safely. The light is mounted at a 90-degree angle to the traffic light and is visible to officers parked near the intersection. It is not visible from the approaching side of the signal.

Instead of the traditional method of officers pursuing violators through the intersection, now police can monitor intersections from a safe, “downstream” location.

The system allows police to observe the offense — a legal requirement for issuing a ticket — and then pursue violators after they have passed through the intersection.

Approaching the intersections, drivers will see signs marked “Red Light Violation Reduction Site.”

The Burnsville locations will help MnDOT engineers gauge the lights’ effectiveness and durability in extreme weather conditions. Burnsville is a demonstration area for other jurisdictions interested in using the lights, which cost about $250 each.

Burnsville averaged 950 car crashes per year from 2002 to 2006, with 38 percent, or 360, occurring at intersections. Of those, about 70 percent were right-angle crashes at signalized intersections and were most likely caused by red-light running.

Enforcement lights have been used successfully in Florida and Texas, according to the city.

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