Los Angeles May Dump Red Light Cameras

from the pushback dept

We’ve been hearing more and more stories of late about cities with red light cameras deciding that they’re just not worth it. A lot of these have been smaller cities, however, so it’s interesting to hear (via btr1701) that Los Angeles is now considering dumping its red light cameras. Apparently the civilian Police Commission that oversees the police department has put the program on hold, much to the chagrin of the police themselves, who were in favor of the proposal. The commission’s main concern appeared to be the fact that for all the redlight camera tickets being sent, most were never collected, and there was no effort to collect — raising questions about the effectiveness of the program. Separately, studies had shown “no evidence the cameras reduced accidents, deaths or injuries at the intersections where they were placed and in fact, found those numbers actually increased at some intersections.”

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Comments on “Los Angeles May Dump Red Light Cameras”

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Shawn (profile) says:

Of course traffic infractions won’t go down if you don’t enforce the fines. Here in Ontario, all traffic fines are accumulated by the vehicle owner, and if you don’t pay your fines right away, you get slapped with a late charge and you get to pay it when you renew the plates. Even if you sell the vehicle for scrap, the ownership isn’t transferred until all the fines are paid. In other words, the scrapyard won’t deal with you until the fines are paid.

If you have red-light cameras, you need to get serious about collecting the fines.

teka (profile) says:


And nowhere in there does Safety, the supposed reasoning behind the cameras, get mentioned.

Methinks that the police (or more likely the third-party redlight camera company) was lax in enforcement to lessen the eventual stink that would be raised. Buckshot out violation letters, hope a few people pay but don’t risk pursuing people who would fight it.

(weird, its like another business model we have heard about here)

Thankfully it seems the Police Commission is realizing that this program is a bit short of Protecting and/or Serving the public good, just like people across the country.

Cloksin (profile) says:


It mentions safety right here.

“Separately, studies had shown “no evidence the cameras reduced accidents, deaths or injuries at the intersections where they were placed and in fact, found those numbers actually increased at some intersections.”

Now here’s the thing, of course the cameras aren’t going to reduce accidents at the intersections if there’s no enforcement of the fines. People realize that they don’t have to pay the fine and so there is no deterent to obey the light.

Enforcing the fines in a manner that some have already suggested here, like suspending vehicle registration or license renewal, will force people to pay the fines. With enforcement in place people are less likely to violate the lights, thereby reducing accidents at the intersection.

I think the police commission is taking the wrong approach here, instead of suspending the program, they should be looking at ways to better enforce the violations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Camera’s in intersections don’t prevent accidents, they increase them. The idea that was sold where the owner of the camera’s would share revenue for putting them up around the city isn’t interested in safety, it’s interested in getting money. When these cities put them up, since the revenue split was so high, the first thing done was to raise ticket fines. The next thing done was to take the time the yellow light stayed on down to the legal minimum. This often means you don’t have time to stop if you are going the speed limit. Reaction time and braking distance can put you right in the middle of the intersection.

What the camera at the red light has done is increase rear end accidents by a big amount.

CommonSense (profile) says:


Sure, spend more money on “no evidence the cameras reduced accidents, deaths or injuries at the intersections where they were placed and in fact, found those numbers actually increased at some intersections.”

Sounds like a good idea, I mean, the more money we throw into the drug war, the less people do drugs, right?

Some problems can just never be eradicated, and it’s wise to identify them and not waste valuable resources on them. This is one of those times.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:


Running red lights is *not* the same as doing drugs. Full stop. Or how about speed limits? Seat belt usage? Why have any rules at all?

Changing the rules of driving without properly *training* the drivers is of course going to lead to confusion and improper behavior – i.e. last minute recognition of this particular intersection as having a red light camera and slamming on the brakes. Since the person behind isn’t expecting this, you get accidents.

Every study I’ve seen shows an increase in rear end collisions but a decrease in the much much worse t-bone accidents these cameras are trying to prevent. That’s is a worthwhile savings.

Anonymous Coward says:


the safety issue isn’t from non-enforcement. I can’t remember the source but in a study that was done a while back showed that the red light cameras actually caused more accidents than they prevented because people saw a yellow light and slammed on the breaks even though they had plenty of time to clear the intersection before the light turned red. Because of the studies that were done the camera’s in my area were shut down and taken out.
BTW in my area they did actively enforce the cameras as they would any moving violation, you have a court date and a pre-payable fine amount. If you ignored it your license was suspended and a warrant put out for your arrest.

Cloksin (profile) says:

Yellow light = slamming on brakes = accidents

I’ve seen this argument many times over regarding the traffic light cams, and I just don’t buy it. Rules of the road dictate that when a traffic light turns yellow you stop, unless you are too close to the intersection to do so safely in which case you proceed through the yellow light. Whether there is a camera at the intersection or not is moot, those are the rules.

Now, if you cross the stop line while the light is yellow and the light turns red while you are in the intersection you CANNOT get a ticket, and this is the point I think most people using this argument are relying on. The fear that if the light turns red before they’ve cleared the intersection they’ll get a ticket, therefore the only recourse is to slam on the brakes in a fashion that forces the driver behind them to run into the back of them. This is just plain bad driving, and the people that do this shouldn’t be behind the wheel in the first place.

In order for a rear end collision to happen because a traffic light turns yellow a string of events needs to take place, first, the driver in the front needs to be going too fast to stop safely at the stop line from their position, they need to be going too fast to make it past the stop line before the yellow light changes to red, they need to slam on their brakes ridiculously hard, causing them to SLIDE to a stop, the driver behind needs to be driving too close to safely stop, and has to not be paying attention to the car in front of them OR the traffic light.

Can this series of events occur? Of course they can, but the chances are very unlikely that all of these will occur at the same time. So, take just one of these factors out of the equation and you’ve eliminated the rear end accident.

I really am sick of hearing people use the argument that because a light turns yellow you have to slam on the brakes which will cause a rear end accident just so they can justify running a red light. Work on being a better driver, and you won’t have to resort to this argument anymore.

Cloksin (profile) says:

Yellow light = slamming on brakes = accidents

Oh come on??!! Are you serious? It’s this ignorance that is causing all these accidents, maybe if people learned the traffic laws before they decided to get behind the wheel of a 3000 pound killing machine, there would be fewer accidents. But since you need proof of something that you should already have known before you were able to get your license, here is a quote from the city of Savannah, Georgia, red light camera FAQ page.


Its the fifth question down in case you have a hard time finding it.

What counts as a red light camera violation?
A violation occurs when a car is behind the stop line when the light is red, then crosses the line into the intersection while the light is red. Vehicles already in the intersection when the light turns from yellow to red WILL NOT receive a citation.”

Cloksin (profile) says:

Yellow light = slamming on brakes = accidents

Oh, and just so you don’t think that’s an isolated description of the law, here is an FAQ page from the city in question in the original post, Los Angeles.


This time its only the second question down on the LAPD’s own website.

What is a red light violation?

A red light violation occurs when a vehicle travels across the limit line when the traffic signal is red.

It is not a violation if the vehicle has already passed the limit line at the time the signal turned red. At no time will a citation be issued if the vehicle crosses the limit line while the traffic signal is still yellow.”

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Yellow light = slamming on brakes = accidents

maybe if people learned the traffic laws

I didn’t say that I didn’t know what the law said. I asked you to prove that you cannot get a ticket.

Yesterday I would have said that you “cannot” be dragged out of your house in your underwear at 6 AM and at gunpoint and be made to wait in a police car with your three children for 6 hours while police look for your ex-wife who they think may have committed financial aid fraud, but I think we all know better now, don’t we?

The facts are:
(A) The city makes a lot of revenue through these cameras. They have an incentive to create a lot of violations.
(B) The company that sells the cities these cameras gets of a cut of the profits. They have an incentive to create a lot of violations.
(C) The police can say or do anything they damn well please, and what are you going to do about it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Now, if you cross the stop line while the light is yellow and the light turns red while you are in the intersection you CANNOT get a ticket

That is a matter of state and city law, and you can’t make a general statement about the entire US. That is how the law works in some places, and not how the law works in other places.

And it’s a moot point, because the question is not what the law says, but about how people behave. People worry about the cameras ticketing them for behavior a human wouldn’t, and so they behave differently; more dangerously, apparently.

Cloksin (profile) says:


First, its not that people think a human wouldn’t ticket them when a camera wouldn’t, its that they know if there is no camera, there is most likely no human there either. If no one sees them breaking the law, then there is nothing stopping them from doing it.

Second, I just posted TWO links from opposite sides of the country stating the same thing about the red light laws. Find one that states otherwise and post it here.

btr1701 (profile) says:


> I think the police commission is taking the
> wrong approach here, instead of suspending
> the program, they should be looking at ways
> to better enforce the violations.

The police commission has no authority to enforce the violations. The violations go to the courts for enforcement and the courts have decided that holding someone responsible for a violation when the actual driver of the car can’t be determined is a violation of due process and have refused to enforce the tickets.

The police commission has zero control over that.

btr1701 (profile) says:


> until you’re stopped for some infraction and
> the cop checks wants & warrants

A warrant can’t be issued for failure to pay a camera-generated fine because there’s no evidence that the car’s owner was actually behind the wheel. They can impose an administrative fine, but they can’t issue a warrant, which is constitutionally required to describe the actual *person* accused of committing the offense.

So no, an NCIC check will not yield warrants on failure to pay camera tickets.

CommonSense (profile) says:


I never said running red lights was the same as doing drugs, and the only similarity I brought up is an undeniable one, you’ll never be able to completely stop people from doing both things.

As everyone has already said, speed limits and seat belts are also bullspit laws, and it’s a big taxpayer money waste to try and enforce seatbelts (speed limits should be enforced, the way I’ve heard most police officers say they enforce them, only giving tickets that will stick in court, at 10-15 MPH over the limit). Some rules help, some don’t. The ones that don’t are useless, that’s a fact.

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