California: Another City Dumps Red Light Cameras
Following San Jose, California’s recent decision to reject red light cameras, the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte has decided to put an end to photo ticketing after five years. By a unanimous vote, the city council declined to renew its contract with Australian camera vendor Redflex. According to police, the cameras failed to produce any reduction in the number of intersection accidents. More importantly, however, the devices failed to produce revenue. “We’re spending a lot of staff time on this just to gain $2000 a month,” City Manager James W. Mussenden explained. “It doesn’t reduce accidents — that’s what our studies and results have come back.” Data obtained by highwayrobbery.net suggest the loss in revenue could be related to changes in intersection signal timing. On April 12, 2004 the city increased the yellow warning time to 3.5 seconds for the left turn movements at the intersection of Peck Road and Ramona Boulevard. The results were immediately felt. In March 2004, before the increase, Redflex mailed 665 tickets. In May, the first full month after the increase, citations dropped to 265. This small engineering improvement cut the photo enforcement system’s total profit by $1.4 million.
This result is consistent with the Texas Transportation Institute’s finding that increasing the yellow signal time beyond the bare minimum amount can decrease violations by 53 percent ( view report). The disappointing lack of violations gave the San Jose police department a green light to announce that the program had failed to save lives. “A comparison of traffic collisions at Redflex monitored intersections vs. non-Redflex monitored intersections revealed that there is no statistical difference in the number of traffic collisions because of Redflex monitoring,” Police Chief Ken Weldon wrote in a memo to the council. As a result of the council’s action, the city’s two red light cameras will be disconnected by November 30.
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YAY! Hopefully other states, and municipalities follow the good decisions of the San Jose and El Monte city councils, or refrain from making the mistake of red light cameras in the first place.