California: Right Turn Camera Makes $1 Million a Month

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

A single red light camera in Riverside, California issued $1 million worth of right-hand turn on red tickets in just one month. The automated ticketing machine installed in March at Tyler Street at the entrance to the 91 Freeway has become the most productive of the city’s cameras and now accounts for half of the citations issued by Riverside’s vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia. The camera helped boost the grand total of citations mailed since January 2007 to 82,448 tickets worth $32,532,203.

As in most California cities, Riverside’s program began with tickets issued to drivers primarily at locations where the yellow light provided insufficient warning. A 2001 report by the California State Auditor found that 77 percent of tickets in major cities were issued for split-second violations. This means that motorists who harmlessly entered the intersection a fraction of a second after the light turned red were photographed and sent a ticket. In fact, the trigger is so quick in Riverside that city documents recorded four instances early this year in which the camera generated a citation when one traffic signal facing the driver displayed a red light while a secondary signal still displayed the yellow light. Tickets in these particular cases were canceled before being dropped in the mail.

Over time, drivers learned the location of these cameras and traffic volume has decreased. So the number of citations has likewise diminished. Redflex addresses this problem by regularly installing new cameras with an emphasis on those that focus on “rolling” right-turns on red. Thanks to this strategy, Riverside saw a 28 percent increase in gross revenue over all of 2007 in just the first eight months of 2009. The Tyler Street and 91 camera accounted for nearly all of the boost, generating $1 million worth of citations in April according to data obtained by highwayrobbery.net. The same camera is on track to issue $11 million annually.

Despite the significant revenue figures, Riverside Police insist that the cameras have one purpose: to reduce traffic fatalities.

“The red signal is red for a reason. Like the ‘Wrong Way’ and ‘Stop’ signs, the lights’ red color is intended to be a strong warning to motorists of the deadly hazard in disobeying these signs,” Riverside Police Traffic Bureau Lieutenant Ken Carpenter said in a statement.

According to a 2001 review of 2001 National Highway Transportation Safety Administration report, however, a mere 0.038 percent of all crashes involved a motorist who made a right-hand turn at an intersection ( view report). By the odds, such accidents are so rare that an individual could drive a billion miles before being involved in a collision that resulted from a motorist making a rolling stop on a right-hand turn.

[courtesy thenewspaper.com]

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  • Daanii2 Daanii2 on Oct 19, 2009
    If the cameras are all about safety, then the police department should be able to show a marked decrease in both accidents and fatalities at that intersection since the cameras have gone in. Not only that, but you would expect a marked decrease in the number of violations. Which has not happened. And which, if it did happen, would make the program not worth doing anymore. The fact is, these red light tickets do not help safety at all. They generate a steady amount of revenue because the red lights tickets do nothing for safety or to improve driver behavior. The only change is more money in the pockets of governments and companies like Redflex. And less money in the pockets of us. I just paid $436 to the County of San Mateo in California for my wife's red light ticket. It's on appeal. Regardless of the outcome, I'm going to take on this racket in federal court.
  • Henrythegearhead Henrythegearhead on Oct 20, 2009

    Readers who live in California or might visit here need to know about Snitch Tickets, which are fake/phishing red light camera tickets sent out by some California police in an effort to get the registered owner to identify the actual driver of the car. Snitch tickets have not been filed with the court, so they don't say "Notice to Appear," don't have the court's address and phone # on them, and usually say, on the back (in small letters), "Do not contact the court about this notice." Since they have not been filed with the court, they have no legal weight whatsoever. You can, and should, ignore a Snitch Ticket. If in doubt, Google the term.

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  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
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