By on March 14, 2011

The city council in San Bernardino, California voted 5 to 0 last week to pull the plug on its red light camera program. The action follows the lead of a growing number of jurisdictions in the Golden State that have grown disillusioned with automated ticketing machines. Most recently, Rocklin‘s cameras were shut off last Tuesday. San Bernardino officials argued it would be worth paying the private contractor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) about $110,000 to get out of the contract before its 2014 expiration date.

“The provisions of the agreement [with ATS] allow the early termination of the contract with proper notice and each of the locations has a required payment of costs,” Police Chief Keith L. Kilmer wrote in a memo to the city council. “The payout estimates for early termination have been computed by the city attorney’s office after a comprehensive analysis of the contract.”

San Bernardino first installed cameras at four intersections in 2005, sparking a number of controversies in its history. In 2008, the city was caught with illegally short yellow times that maximized the number of citations generated. Fixing the signal timing dropped the system’s profitability. In 2009, the city dropped a “cost neutrality” clause from its contract after an Orange County court ruled that the provision violated state law (view ruling). This change left the city open to losing, instead of making, money on the red light camera program. The final blow came in December 2010 when a San Bernardino County court ruled that photo ticket evidence was inadmissible hearsay (view ruling).

Dozens of cities have ended photo enforcement. These include Loma Linda and Whittier, Moreno Valley, Rocklin, San Carlos, Union City, Yucaipa and Costa Mesa. In November 2010, 73 percent of Anaheim residents voted to ban cameras. Berkeley, Burlingame, Cupertino, Compton, El Monte, Fairfield, Fresno, Fullerton, Indian Wells, Irvine, Maywood, Montclair, Paramount, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Roseville, San Jose (photo radar), Santa Fe Springs, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, and Upland have rejected their automated ticketing programs.

San Bernardino’s cameras will stop issuing tickets on June 1.


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10 Comments on “San Bernardino, California Dumps Red Light Cameras...”

  • avatar

    “What could possibly drive the attorney to enter a new contract before the old contract was up that would take away the city council’s power to nix the contract?” Victorville resident Bill Jensen asked. “It makes absolutely no sense.”

    I can think of two possibilities, stupidity and/or under the table payment from Redflex.  Either option does nto seem unreasonable when discussing the actions of a lawyer (or politician for that matter).

  • avatar

    Apparently the City of Bernardino viewed a simple animation showing what happens when a vehicle enters the intersection 0.1 second before the end of the yellow and a conflicting vehicle, timing the lights, enters the intersection 0.1 second into the green. The resulting crash with both in the intersection legally puts 100% of the blame on the city. All intersection crashes back to the statute of limitations can be quite a bill.
    If the City DOT is not using all three components of the K&F formula AND the intersection clearance is not red (all-red traffic signal plan), as Jesse James had tattooed across the palm of his hand,  pay up.
    With increasing frequency, the Courthouse is making short work of cities messing with the light timing.

    • 0 avatar

      In your hypothetical example, the car entering on the green is at fault. Failure to yield.

    • 0 avatar

      Wrong. The lights are deliberately programmed to incorporate this safety defect in normal operation. Read this sentence carefully; it contains all the elements to win in court.

      Cities that do not include the intersection clearance time under red (“all-red” traffic signal plan) are free money to trial lawyers. Not yellow, but red intersection clearance. Camera companies with throw millions at defeating this in court because it is fatal to the cameras but logic, math, and simple animations make it far too easy for juries to understand. Verdict: Plaintiff.

      This is the end game for dispatching the cameras.

    • 0 avatar

      Only if the judge doesn’t understand how rights of way work. The car on yellow entered legally. The car on green failed to yield. End of case.

    • 0 avatar

      @Steve 65
      Sorry, not so. If it was an unexpected event that happened on a random basis, that is one thing.  The guy on green simply failed to detect this very unusual occurrence. However, if it is programmed into the system as ongoing, expected, and repeatable and can be shown to be a safety defect, which it is, it will fail in court.
      You cannot build in a safety defect, knowingly or not, then claim it is “user error” for not detecting and avoiding the problem. Courts are quick to make the point it doesn’t work that way. The lights as described are defectively timed; the city will loose in court.
      BTW, the above is not hypothetical; it happens 100% of the time in the scenario described, which is what makes it actionable. My guess is someone sat the City of Bernardino down and asked them just how lucky they thought they would be with “Gee, he should have looked first.”  The exit strategy is dump the cameras, keep your mouth shut, and quietly re-program the lights to something bullet-proof in court (“all-red” traffic signal plan).

    • 0 avatar

      Look, I get that you don’t understand how right of way works. Green still does not mean “proceed heedless of circumstances. The car on yellow entered legally. Car on green is at fault for failure to yield to traffic already in the intersection. It’s no different than if he saw a green while a slow pedestrian was still in the crosswalk. He yields until it is safe to proceed

    • 0 avatar

      @ Steve 65
      Look, I get you have no understanding how it will play in a courtroom when 100 out of 100 instances the outcome results in a crash in the intersection or aggressive avoidance maneuvers by one or both drivers.
      My comments stand: trial lawyers will make short work of cities not including the intersection clearance time or including it but continuing the yellow instead of changing the light to red (an “all-red” traffic signal plan), vital to creating the final vehicle. This is the only traffic signal plan without a built-in 100%-certain crash potential. Cities that embrace risk management use it knowing it is pretty bullet-proof in staying out of the courtroom and winning if drug into a courtroom. Cities not using an “all-red”, relying instead on blaming a driver are on a fool’s errand.
      Please, no more debate. The above adequately explains it.

    • 0 avatar

      CA handbook:
      Solid Green– Give the right-of-way to any vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian in the intersection. A green light means “GO.”

      NV handbook:
      A green light means GO. You may proceed through an intersection in the direction indicated by the signal if the road is clear. Make sure you look right and left for oncoming traffic.

      AZ handbook:
      Green − Green Means Go
      This signal means GO. You may go through an intersection in the direction indicated by the signal if the roadway is clear. Check right and left for oncoming traffic.

      FL handbook:
      Green Go – but only if the intersection is clear. Yield to pedestrians and vehicles still in the intersection.

      GA handbook:
      At intersections with traffic control lights, wait until the intersection is clear of traffic or approaching traffic before entering. Do not proceed “just because” you have the green light.

      ID handbook:
      Green Light: Go. You may pass through the intersection in the direction indicated by the signal if the way is clear.

      KY handbook:
      GREEN: If the way is clear, after yielding the right-of-way to other vehicles and pedestrians lawfully within the intersection, you may go straight or turn left or right,
      Do you get it yet, or should I pick a few more states at random? Your core premise, that the car with the green entered the intersection legally, is flatly wrong, and all the conclusions you’ve drawn from that misconception are equally wrong.
      What really frightens me is the you seem to sincerely believe that the color of the light trumps the driver’s obligation to pay attention to wtf is going on on the road.
      Your assertion that there’s some sort of windfall out there to be reaped by trial lawyers is just bizzare. The vast majority of traffic signals are timed so that one direction gets green when the other goes red. And it’s been that way for as long as I can remember (and I got my license during the Carter administration). If this situation constituted free money in court, it would have changed a LONG time ago.

  • avatar

    Illegal and dangerous yellow light tampering in addition to interfering with voter referendums, Redflex, ACS and some govt officials should be the focus of a RICO investigation.
    Where is the anger of Ray Lahood, MADD and the usual safety nannies when there is a real menace afoot and it is govt colluding with the red light scam artists?
    If Exxon had even a 1% ownership in the red light hucksters, the safety lobby would be all over this issue.

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