10 years later: Have red light cameras made our streets safer?

 

A violation of privacy! A money-making scheme! A safety tool!

In May, our City Council heard Redding’s red light cameras described in these ways.  In choosing whether to renew the Red Light Camera Program for another four years, the City Council had to decide which description was most accurate.

With a unanimous vote to renew the Program for four years, the City Council agreed the red light cameras are a tool to increase safety on our streets.

Have Red Light Cameras Made Redding Safer?

Traffic collisions in Redding:[1]

Year 2006 2016
Collisions across the city 1,760 630
Collisions at intersections with cameras 116 30
# red light tickets issued 977 6,057

Over the past ten years, Redding, California saw a 75% reduction in car crashes at intersections with red light cameras.

The Redding Police Department says the red light cameras are largely responsible for this reduction in car accidents.  At a single intersection, Cypress and Hilltop, a camera was installed in 2015.  In 2014, there were 22 collisions at that intersection.  In 2016, there were only four collisions.[2]

The first cameras were installed in 2007 because Redding wanted to improve traffic safety.  A deadly car crash in 2005 was the final nudge to make significant changes: a driver killed five people after running a red light.  At the time, Federal Highway Administration research showed that red light cameras were likely to reduce vehicle wrecks with injuries by up to 25%. Redding decided to give them a try.

How Do the Red Light Cameras Work? 

A total of eight cameras are positioned at the following intersections:

  • Cypress Avenue at Bechelli Lane, covering both directions of traffic on Cypress
  • Market Street at Shasta Street, covering westbound Shasta and southbound Market
  • Northbound Lake Boulevard at North Market Street
  • Northbound Pine Street at Tehama Street
  • Cypress Avenue and Hilltop Drive, covering southbound Hilltop and eastbound Cypress

The cameras produce a 12-second video and 4 pictures:

  • the car behind the limit line when the light is red
  • the car going through the intersection
  • the driver’s face
  • the license plate.

The pictures are tagged with the date, time, location, and information about the car’s movement and the intersection speed limit.

The photos and video are reviewed by a police officer and if a violation is found, the driver receives a citation by mail.  The driver can review all the evidence and can pay a fine or contest the citation.

The fine for a red light violation is $100. Court fees and other costs run the total up to around $500.  The use of red light cameras is allowed by California Vehicle Code sections 21455.5 – 21455.7.

In 2016, police issued 6,057 red light tickets.  Not every incident leads to a ticket.  Retired Redding Police Captain Wes Reynolds, who is one of the part-time employees who reviews the red-light camera images, said that in April 2017, about 42% of the 1,885 incidents captured did not result in violations because the images weren’t clear enough or the reviewing officer did not think the incident was a violation.

The safety attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter, McCartney & Frankel encourage drivers to stop at red lights, drive the speed limit and wear a seatbelt.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, we can help.  Contact our car accident attorneys today for a free consultation.

 


Photo Credit: Derek Jensen via Wikimedia Commons

[1] Source: Redding Police Department, as reported in Record Searchlight, redding.com.

[2] Source: Redding Police Department, as reported in Record Searchlight, redding.com.