Fergus Hodgson, director of fiscal policy studies for the John Locke Foundation, reports he’s just returned from the Raleigh City Council meeting where the council voted 4-3 to continue the controversial use of red-light cameras. However, five votes were needed to extend the contract. Unless they take it up again, it will expire on Sept. 30.

Three other North Carolina cities — Cary, Knightdale, and Wilmington — use the cameras. A key point of controversy is whether the cameras are more about revenue generation than safety. Hodgson recently wrote about this issue. Here’s a sample from his piece:

The National Motorists Association notes that there are many ways to increase traffic-light safety without prosecution of drivers. For example, research from the Texas Transportation Institute suggests that increasing the amber light by one second reduces collisions by 40 percent. In fact, they found that the average run-in occurs when the light has been red for half a second or less, while almost every right-angle crash occurs after more than five seconds.

So have cities taken this painlessly applicable finding and extended the amber-light timing? Au contraire. At least six U.S. cities have been convicted of shortening the yellow light to catch more people on the red. The Texas study found a one-second cut from international standards to increase violations by 110 percent.

Deeper examination also reveals that the vast majority of these tickets go for rolling right-hand turns — 75 percent in the case of Los Angeles. A Safer Streets L.A. investigation describes the risk of these turns, which draw $466 fines, as minuscule.

Update: This post was edited after posting.