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L.A. wants to double red-light camera program: safety measure or revenue generator?

Red light camerahttp://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0120a7ff41ff970b-pi They've raised the price of parking tickets. They've added fees for moving violations. They've jacked up the price of "fix-it" tickets.

Now officials might have found another way to generate revenues from naughty drivers.

Los Angeles is considering a major expansion of its red-light traffic camera program, which officials report netted more than $6 million last year after expenses. The number of intersections covered by the cameras could eventually double in L.A. to 64, The Times' Rich Connell reported today.

While adding more cameras could offer a welcome boost to city revenue in the midst of a fiscal crisis, officials say any expansion will be based on safety considerations. Complaints from some drivers have grown louder as red-light ticket fines have climbed sharply in recent years. They now total more than $500 in Los Angeles County when traffic school fees are included. But LAPD officials and some experts say photo enforcement reduces potentially serious red-light-running accidents, changes driver behavior for the better and frees up patrol officers for other tasks.

What do you think? Should the red-light camera program expand? Share your thoughts below.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo credit: Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (77)

A recent study reported in some blogs shows that accidents increase at red light cameras because people smash on their brakes and get hit from behind by cars expecting the car ahead of them to go through a yellow - but Ka-BOOM.

They only increase fees, not safety. If this were a safety issue they would be removed not added.

Not to be outdone, Arnold according to this paper floated an idea to have red light cameras also catch drivers speeding through GREEN lights, or making a right turn on even the slightest roll, even in the dead of night when no one's there.

More people would fight these cameras and increase court backup - my understanding is many win these cases but of course, many can't take the time to show up and fight it. Another way to wear people down, not increase safety.

I think its completely ridiculous that the government is saying they are adding red lights camera based on safety considerations. I don't know about you, but when I cross an intersection with red lights camera, and if the light turns yellow, I am slamming my breaks. Whoever is in the back, well tough luck. How does that create better safety? I have seen 1st hand, the red light camera create more dangerous driving conditions at intersections.

I'm a little threatened by this. Red light cameras make me nervous a bit.

This isn't being done for safety. The city darn well knows it too.

So how many "violations" are for right turns on red, stop lines, or being under a second late????? (the majority of those can be resolved by longer yellows).

Bet those are the majority of them.

I got a better idea. Lets see if the public still buys the argument that RLC are for safety. HOW ABOUT A VOTE BY THE PUBLIC!

DEMAND A VOTE!

If ANY municipality, truly wanted to make intersections safer, there is a simple traffic light programming trick that can be accomplished.

Generally, when a traffic light in one direction turns red, it then allows the trigger of the light in another direction to turn green. Generally, the Red to Green happens simultaneously.

I lived in San Diego for the later half of the 80s, and while I was there, many new intersections were built. In many of the higher speed corridors, 45 MPH +, the lights were programmed to trigger a deleayed Green. i.e. The N/S would turn RED and then there would be a 1 second - 2 second delay before the E/W turned GREEN - thereby giving vehicles in the extra wide and extra fast intersections, a few extra moments to clear the intersection before high speed traffic was allowed to enter.

No Red Light Cam necessary to catch anyone, and probably a lot more safe, because after all, that is what municipalities want, RIGHT? Safety over revenue?

I have also seen this "delayed green" in the greater Los Angeles area, so I know someone knows what's going on.

Doubling the number of red light cameras as a way to balance the city's budget is wrong. For the city to raise money through fines sends the message that businesses, residents or a visitors, should avoid driving in Los Angeles at all cost.
City Hall should figure out how to balance its own budget instead of figuring out another way to screw the public. Shame on you.

Sean McCarthy

I find it to be an absurd gesture by the city of Los Angeles to support such a program. The average driver should not have to pay a $500.00 fine, because of a decision made by a machine. Does this mean in the near future that soon we will have machines fining us for swearing, being obese, and perhaps looking suspicious?

This is the work of the LA City council. You people in LA have been very irresponsible to have elected people that only see constituents as revenue generators. What will it take, a law that says if you run a red light, you forfeit your car, your house? Wake up and recall these bums now!

No to expansion. I'm not convinced these things improve safety. From my experience they cause a lot of confusion and create dangerous situations with drivers being over cautious. I think the main push for these is revenue and they will soon be converted to ticket for speeding also. More money! More money! More money!

Absolutely it should be expanded. I've almost been hit by red light-runners many times. The people who complain that it's just a money-making scheme for the City are the people who will get the tickets. They think the law is only for "ordinary" people, and that they are special and above the law. You could kill someone--motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian--when you run a red light. It's a serious crime. It deserves a ticket. It doesn't even matter if you meant to run it or not. You will learn not to. Not running red lights is not too much to expect of drivers.

The argument that these cameras cause more accidents is also nonsense. It goes like this: Car 1 stops suddenly to avoid running the red light, and Car 2 rear-ends Car 1. Well, if Car 2 hadn't been expecting to flagrantly run the light, it wouldn't have happened. Lesson learned. Habits will change, this will become a non-issue.

This is a big money grab by government. Yeah, it is politically safe to do this since it is being disguised as a public safety initiative. But after having worked with a law enforcement agency where it was known that certain cities in Arizona tweaked their red light cameras for quicker red lights and it resulted in boosting revenues, the rule of thumb when traveling to those cities was to avoid those intersections. I wouldn't trust the city or state government to act so benevolently in the name of safety especially with the fines approaching $500 per infraction.

No! These are unconstitutional. There should be a ballot initiative to outlaw these Orwellian devices. How about instead of finding new ways to steal from the working man, our politicians learn how to balance a budget and work with the revenue they already have.

This city is fining people out of the state!! I can't wait to move out!! I refuse to park on a city street. I rather pay to park at a private lot. I live downtown and use to shop in the city but now I shop in Pasadena and other out laying cities because parking is use a pain. I if the city want revenue make it easier and cheaper to park on a city street. THIS CITY IS SO GOING DOWN HILL FAST....

The time has come for another tea party. Throw all the politicians out of office. They're inept if they can't make do with what they've already got coming in. This financial raping of the citizens has got to end now.

Yes, the program should expand. Safety is great. But on the flip side, the penalties for the tickets should go down. I don't see how running one red light can justify a $500 price tag. That amount is simply ridiculous. If their true motive is to increase safety, then they would set the penalty to something more reasonable. When I received my ticket, I thought I'd have to pay maybe $150 to $200. $435 plus fees is just insane.

The good news is, LA-DOT is very professional, so, unlike many places that use red light cameras, the yellow cycles ARE properly set and there is far less of a problem with people panic stopping to avoid getting ticketed, and getting rear-ended.
The bad news is, this means that most Red Light Camera tickets in LA are for right-turns-on-red where the car did not come to a complete stop.
I'm certainly not saying not coming to a complete stop for right-turn-on-red is a good thing (particularly for pedestrians and cyclists), but this violation produces far fewer collisions than blowing straight through signals, which produce "T-bone" collisions. Right turn on red incidents are not only far less frequent, but also at lower speed and generally "glancing" type hits.
So, is this a safety measure? Of course not - and you all knew that even without any technical explanation.
This is a very expensive way to get money to governments, particularly after the violator school and higher insurance costs.

The "fix-it" ticket is a joke; the "processing fees" are the same as the infraction fee. Don't pee on my boot and tell me it's raining.

I think traffic police needs to get off their butts and do some actual patrolling and not rely on cameras to do their jobs... I guess its better than having to pay a camera for unionized labor. I've caused red light cameras to snap a hand full of times, and every time, I wasn't running a red light, I was finishing a right hand turn or illegally changed lanes from a left turn back onto the lane left to it to keep going straight. A police officer would have probably ticketed me. Now, they have to review video tapes and make a judgment call from their desks. I lucked out (knock on wood).

Money or Safety? How 'bout who cares!!!! It keeps our streets safer for those drivers who are aware of the cameras and it brings in money for the dopes who like to run red lights...so what? Our cops have better things to do than sit at traffic stops and wait for speeders or red light runners.

There are transportation studies document red light cameras increase rear end accidents as driver slam on brakes to avoid entered the intersection on yellow. It would seem a fertile area for more research by transportation researchers in California -- especially if the City of Los Angeles is planning on expanding red light enforcement to such a HUGE number of intersections. This is an issue that could lead to more political backlash against the Los Angeles City Council. It seems Council, after going on a spending spree to hand the City's treasury over to the police, fire, and public employee unions, developers, and anyone else who gave them a campaign contribution, will face wrath at the ballot box. Increasing the use of red lights, at a time when the City is in final crisis, would suggest strongly that the City's motivation is revenue -- and safety is merely a pretense.

Its revenue enhancement! all cities are implementing it, eventually the citizens will get upset, and request a trial or court date with a judge thus totally unidating the system with massive numbers of court dates that that the system will need to be reviewed.

No, I can't stand these. Drivers know they are there and they drive so erratically. They slam on breaks at the last second because they are scared to get a ticket or they roll up way under the speed limit on a stale green creating more of a hazard by going so slow. Though I can only put so much blame on the driver. The system is flawed, the tickets are outrageously expensive and the city council is happy because they think this is a good idea as they are too scared to hand down real taxes to balance the budget. No I don't really like a guy running a red light any more than the next, though the solution isn't to create a police state.

Absurd. This is citizen abuse. Citizens are entitled to make a balanced choice between safety, convenience and intrusiveness. The numbers only reduce the number of right angle collisions, but increase others, notably rear-end impacts. Moreover, in some jurisdictions, 80 percent of violations are right hand turns, the least severe. Further, when considering the insurance impact of the violation, $500 is just a beginning. There should be a campaign to recall or replace council members ho support this measure, altho I suspect the populous is adequately compliant now that that won't happen. it's a shame.

No, they shouldn't install more red-light cameras, or begin to install speed cameras at traffic lights in Los Angeles.

Both measures are revenue-generating wolves presented as public-safety sheep.

At this point it is cheaper to meet a mugger in a dark ally than to meet a police officer. A co-worker just received a ticket this morning for stopping over the crosswalk lines.

I grew up in LA, but moved to Orange County because the governments in LA County have no interest in enhancing the quality of life, but instead are completely focused on flooding their bloated socialist pensions with my money via taxes, fees and bogus fines.

If these red light cameras were about safety, the yellow lights could just last longer, but this is all about taking money. The privileged class of government workers have ruined California, leaving Orange County as the last island of sanity. The good news is there are 49 other States.

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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