Red Light Cameras

RED LIGHT CAMERAS….Although red light cameras have never been one of my big hot buttons, there’s a fair amount of evidence that they’re routinely misused, set up to maximize revenue collection rather than safety. Today, the LA Times adds some fuel to the fire:

One of the most powerful selling points for photo enforcement systems, which now monitor 175 intersections in Los Angeles County and hundreds more across the United States, has been the promise of reducing collisions caused by drivers barreling through red lights.

But it is the right-turn infraction — a frequently misunderstood and less pressing safety concern — that drives tickets and revenue in the nation’s second-biggest city and at least half a dozen others across the county.

….The city of Los Angeles issued more than 30,000 photo tickets last year at 32 camera-equipped intersections. About eight in 10 involved right turns, said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Matthew MacWillie, the program’s co-coordinator.

The infraction, of course, is not coming to a full and complete stop before rolling into a right turn. This turns out to be a relatively modest safety issue, but it’s often the difference that allows an intersection to produce enough revenue to justify a red light camera in the first place. In the city of Walnut, the assistant city manager admitted as much:

Right-turn enforcement was included, records and interviews show, after camera vendor Redflex Traffic Systems surveyed several intersections and set a “threshold” of violations needed to make the cameras financially feasible.

“It had to meet that,” [Chuck] Robinson said, and right-turn violations helped.

Moral of the story: if you get a right turn ticket, you’re helping to fund a system that catches other people who really are driving unsafely. You should feel proud of your contribution to society.