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Cities See Red In Red-Light Cameras

There’s something about red-light cameras that irritates people. You’d think the use of these cameras would be a simple calculation. Do they work? Do they make intersections safer? Are they cost effective when you consider the citation revenue and the money paid to vendors who operate them?

Red-light cameras are automated systems that photograph cars running red lights. Tickets are issued based on the license plates in the photographs. Sound controversial? They sure are!

Time and again I’ve seen an emotional aversion to the work of these robotic cops. And that’s showing itself again in some California communities.

The, a “journal of the politics of driving,” reports the city of Westminster put a referendum on the ballot asking voters to ban the use of red-light cameras. There are no red-light cameras in Westminster, located in Orange County, but the city council apparently wants to make sure they never arrive.

In San Bernardino County, the Grand Terrace City Council voted to terminate its contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company in charge of issuing automated tickets. There, the justification seemed to be a simple cost-benefit analysis.

"There was an expectation that citation revenue would cover the cost of the program and provide some additional revenue for the city, which never came to fruition," wrote City Manager Betsy Adams. "This coupled with the increased workload the program created for the finance department and the sheriff's department is the fiscal reason for not extending the program."

The politics of, incidentally, are clearly anti-camera. Read it yourself and I think you’ll agree.

The city of San Diego currently has red-light cameras at 15 intersections. I recently reported that the City of Oceanside planned to double their allotment of red-light cameras after finding their existing cameras had have made intersections safer.

But what do the people think? Voters in Anaheim, and other cities, have chosen to ban the use of red-light cameras. But a new survey done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that two-thirds of drivers in 14 big cities, with red light camera programs, support their use.

In November of 2012 we’ll find out what the people of Westminster think.


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