LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- The city of Lakewood recently installed some new traffic cameras at intersections around town and they've prompted some questions from people who want to know what they're for.
Here are five things you need to know about the new traffic cameras.
1. The purpose of the cameras is not for facial recognition:
A viewer sent us a photo of a camera at the intersection of Wadsworth Blvd. and W. Jefferson Ave. He wanted to know if they were used for facial recognition and why they're popping up all over the city.
— Algo Rhythm (@realAlgo_Rhythm) April 13, 2017
Lakewood traffic engineers tell us they are not used for facial recognition, but Lakewood police do have access to the cameras if a fatal crash or some kind of criminal activity were to occur.
2. Cameras are meant to improve traffic flows:
Lakewood's Principal Traffic Engineer Matt Duncan said the cameras are detection devices that are used to tell the traffic signal when cars are present. When a car is detected, the device extends the green signal.
3. They prevent drivers from running red lights:
Duncan said the cameras are especially helpful late at night when signals are based on demand. The goal is to prevent a signal from turning yellow as you cross through the intersection; instead it holds the green light. Duncan said their hope is that it will reduce crashes caused by drunk drivers running red lights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
4. Fourteen intersections have the cameras so far:
Lakewood's Traffic Engineering Division said a total of fourteen intersections have the new cameras, which are the latest technology when it comes to vehicle detection. There are plans to put the cameras at other locations, including Wadsworth Blvd. and Yale Ave. when that signal is rebuilt in the next year. Each camera costs a couple thousand dollars.
5. The cameras replace pavement detection:
Most traffic intersections in the Denver metro area have what's called pavement detection, which relies on cars driving into an intersection to be detected through devices underneath the pavement. The new cameras don't need that; they use radar to detect when a car is coming up to a signal and Duncan said they can detect a much wider range than the pavement detection systems.