Red light cameras still effective at intersection

Red light cameras still effective at intersection
Under the watchful eye of a red-light camera, upper left, motorists proceed with caution at the intersection of Lomas Santa Fe and Solana Hills drives. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

SOLANA BEACH — It’s been more than seven years since cameras were installed at two Solana Beach intersections prone to red-light violations, and according to a Sheriff’s Department report, they have been successful at improving safety.“These cameras are working,” Capt. Sherri Sarro said. “It’s not to say that they’re not increasing tickets because we still have violations that are occurring out there, but they are reducing collisions and that would contribute to saving lives and keeping injuries down.”Cameras were installed in November 2004 at Lomas Santa Fe Drive and Coast Highway 101 and at Lomas Santa Fe and Solana Hills Drive.

Under the watchful eye of a red-light camera, upper left, motorists proceed with caution at the intersection of Lomas Santa Fe and Solana Hills drives. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

The areas were initially studied after the first 16 months in February 2006. The current report includes data collected from July 2009 to June 2011.

During those two years there were 4,075 violations, or an average of about 169 a month. That was down 32 percent from the 2006 report and almost 60 percent since 2004.

From 2009 to 2011 there were 358 crashes citywide, a 15 percent reduction since the 2006 report and an overall decrease of 40 percent since the cameras were installed.

At the monitored intersections there were 10 collisions during the 24-month review period. That is a 37 percent reduction from the 2006 report and 65 percent since the program began in 2004.

“Not only have the violations gone down consistently (but) the crashes have also gone down,” Deputy Greg McDonald, who presented the study, said. “It appears the red light cameras have reduced the number of collisions, not only at the monitored intersections, but throughout the city as well.”

Videos and still photos are recorded at each intersection.

“This is a very serious situation,” Mayor Joe Kellejian said after Sarro showed a video showing about a half dozen drivers running red lights at the monitored intersections.

“There’s no question in my mind it is a very worthwhile program,” Councilman Tom Campbell said.

City Manager David Ott said violators can review the recorded evidence once they receive notification of the violation. He also noted law enforcement issues the tickets, not the contractor that installed the cameras, which he said were put in place because of accidents at those intersections.

“It’s not just, let’s write a ticket and make some money for the city,” Ott said. “It’s a completely avoidable ticket.”
Sarro said officers will be cracking down this month on motorists using cell phones while driving.

“Cell phone (usage while driving) is one of the big contributors to violations and traffic accidents, and we hit that very hard in our coastal communities,” she said. “In the next month…we will be doing some extra added enforcement.”


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  1. Henry says:

    The cameras (indirectly) block emergency vehicles – because cars stopped at a camera hesitate to get out of the way! Other side effects: Rearenders, $$$ sent to Oz, AZ or Goldman-Sachs, where it won’t come back, and tourists and shoppers driven away.
    Worse, a false expectation of safety, because cameras can’t stop the real late runners, who cause the accidents. (If cameras worked, Redflex wouldn’t have the video of runners that Sarro showed to the city council.)
    Want safety, no side effects?
    To cut car/pedestrian accidents, train your kids not to step out just ‘cuz the walk sign came on.
    To cut nuisance running (a fraction of a second late), lengthen the yellows. It’s cheap to do so can be done all over town.
    The dangerous real late (multiple seconds) runs won’t be stopped by the mere presence of a camera, because the runner won’t know (a tourist) or won’t remember (a distracted or impaired “local”) that there’s a camera up ahead. They’re not doing it on purpose! To cut these real late runs, improve the visual cues that say, “Intersection ahead.” Florida’s DOT found that better pavement markings (paint!) cut running by up to 74%. Make the signal lights bigger, add backboards, and put the poles on the NEAR side of the corner. Put brighter bulbs in the street lights at intersections. Put up lighted name signs for the cross streets.
    Who needs cameras and their side effects?

  2. RogerJ says:

    I would like to read something like, “Captain Sarro reports that the reduction in accidents of 40% and 60% seem to have coincided with the downturn in the economy and high price of gas. Perhaps the reductions in both visitor and local traffic is having a positive effect. We will be proposing measures to reduce employment and increase the price of gas even further.”

  3. RogerJ says:

    If Solana Beach wants to reduce red light running by 60-80% increase the yellow light time by 1.0 second. Loma Linda did.

  4. mercededud says:

    If they really work why are so many cities in Calif dropping them, teaching your kids how to drive will save more lives the cameras, this city council and manager is getting so out of touch with the real world it blows one’s mind

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