New Lancashire traffic light cameras will catch red-light jumpers and drivers speeding through on green

Traffic light rule-breakers in Lancashire could be setting themselves up for an expensive reminder of the rules of the road after plans were unveiled to bring specialist infra-red cameras to the county to catch risk-taking motorists.

By Paul Faulkner
Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 6:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 8:28 pm

The kit is designed to detect drivers who either jump the lights when they are on red or exceed the speed limit across a junction when they are showing green.

The cameras are initially set to be installed at two light-controlled locations on the A59 County Road in Ormskirk - the notorious “Five Ways” junction with Southport Road and, just a few hundred yards away, the point at which the main route meets Hayfield Road. However, if the concept proves effective, it could be rolled out elsewhere within the Lancashire County Council area.

A meeting of the authority's cabinet heard that the technology has already been deployed in Blackburn with Darwen and is regularly capturing as many as 70 offences a day just in this one corner of the county.

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The equipment does not require underground cabling work in order to be installed and so can be put in place without digging up the road. As well as minimising disruption to traffic, maintenance and fault-finding is also made easier as a result.

The straightforward installation means that cameras could even be rotated around different junctions as and when problem hotspots emerge.

Conservative cabinet member for highways and transport Charlie Edwards said that if the Ormskirk trial is successful, he would like to see the deterrent extended to other “suitable locations” in Lancashire.

The busy and complex "Five Ways" junction on the A59 in Ormskirk will be the first of two in Lancashire to have infra-red cameras installed to detect traffic-light-related offences (image: Google)

Motorists will be hit in the pocket with fixed penalty notices for failing to stop at red lights or speeding through on green, but the hope amongst highways bosses is that the cameras will help combat driving styles that could be altogether more costly than any fine.

Citing the “devastating” toll of deaths and serious injuries amongst children, in particular, on Lancashire’s roads, County Cllr Edwards said that it was something that “we really must do everything we possibly can do to address”.

The latest data shows that there are 33.8 fatalities or serious injuries per 100,000 youngsters in the county, compared to an England average of 18.

The Labour opposition group welcomed the deployment of the new cameras, with deputy leader Lorraine Beavers raising the possibility of them being installed by default on all new traffic lights in the county - and funding the retrofitting of existing lights via the fines that the infra-red kit will generate.

Labour group leader Azhar Ali said he hoped that “habits will change” when drivers learn that their traffic light technique is coming under scrutiny. He also said that many of Lancashire’s more than 200 parish and town councils had expressed an interest in acquiring various types of camera-enforcement equipment for roads in their area - and if they could be given a timely indication of how much the infra-red devices would cost, they could make appropriate adjustments to their council tax precepts for the year ahead.

The matter is likely to be discussed at a forthcoming highways-themed gathering of parish and town councils hosted by County Cllr Edwards.

Cabinet member for health and wellbeing Michael Green said he believed that all councillors would have "examples [of] where we could put this to good use in the future".

He added: "It's a good scheme to tackle an issue which is important to our residents - speeding traffic is often raised as a concern and it's nice that we are looking at new ways to tackle that."

The Ormskirk cameras are being funded in part by the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership after accident data from the junctions where they are to be installed revealed a number of casualties as a result of red-light running.

Lancashire County Council will cover the remainder of the cost, but the overall bill was discussed in a behind-closed-doors part of the meeting. Cabinet members approved a waiver to the usual procurement rules to allow the authority to buy directly from the only supplier of this type of infra-red system that is Home Office-approved, Jenoptik Limited.