The purpose of stoplight cameras in Wichita

WICHITA, Kansas — The question about red light cameras is being asked by the police chiefs in Kansas City and St. Louis. They want the Missouri Supreme Court to determine how the images from red light cameras can be used for prosecution. There has been no word yet if the court will take up the issue. KSN went more in depth to see if Wichita has cameras on lights and if so, how are they used?

It’s something you can see all around town, gadgets on top of traffic lights. They’re cameras, but not in the way you might think. They don’t record so what are they used for?

“I drive 50 miles to work every day so I see traffic lights. I see a lot of stuff,” said Laura Robben, a Wichita commuter.

It’s turning into a common sight throughout Wichita at major intersections. Cameras or at least they look like cameras.

“Those are sensors that sense the vehicles as they line up in the queue at a stoplight,” said Tom Hein with the Kansas Department of Transportation.

And as they sense those cars, a message goes to the stoplight, telling it to change and hopefully helping to make traffic flow a bit more smoothly and maybe even making your drive a little bit quicker. Officials say that more should be coming soon to replace the older system based underneath the pavement.

“It’s just a way to bring it out of the pavement where you don’t compromise the pavement by cutting it and putting those sensors in,” said Hein.

The advantage to using the sensors is cost and efficiency. While the system does require some new overall maintenance, the pros certainly outweigh the cons.

“It takes out those cuts in the pavement which allows water to get in the pavement, plus when we go in and mill off and put new asphalt down or a new surface down, you’ve got to deal with those sensors that are down in the pavement,” said Hein.

So you can expect to see more of these sensors at stoplights as updates happen at intersections. There has been no word yet on cameras though and when those might hit the streets at regular intersections but officials with KDOT say that the cameras they have are only used to monitor traffic primarily on highways and while people are watching. No one is recording from them.

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