San Rafael Putting an End to Red Light Traffic Enforcement Program

The city's contract with the camera company will not be renewed when it expires this month because the number of red light violations has fallen, according to police.

By Bay City News Service: 

The San Rafael Police Department is putting a stop to its red light camera enforcement program.

 Police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. of Phoenix Ariz. will not be renewed when it expires this month because the number of red light violations has fallen.

 Police also reviewed the program's effectiveness last year and determined accident rates were only slightly reduced at the two intersections with the cameras, Rohrbacher said.

 "Drivers became aware of the cameras and their driving habits improved," Rohrbacher said.

 San Rafael began the camera enforcement program in 2009 at westbound Third Street at Irwin Street and northbound Irwin Street at Third Street. The busy intersections in the downtown corridor were chosen with the goal of improving vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian safety.

 Motorists initially received a 30-day warning period starting on Oct. 31, 2009. Red light violation citations were issued starting Dec. 1, 2009.

 In 2010 there were 4,221 red light citations, 3,195 in 2011 and 2,313 citations in 2012, Rohrbacher said. There were 443 red light citations in the first quarter of 2013.

 Other intersections also were considered, but the data did not support the additional installation, Rohrbacher said.

 Redwood City, Haywood and Belmont also have discontinued their red light camera programs, Rohrbacher said.

 The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported the number of cities nationwide using red light cameras has decreased from a peak of 540 in 2012 to 507 in 2013, Rohrbacher said.

 The cameras in San Rafael were mounted on a pole on the curb line near the traffic signal pole, and a sign about two blocks from the camera informed motorists of the red light camera enforcement ahead, Rohrbacher said.

 A red light on the camera flashed when a driver went through a red light, Rohrbacher said.

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John Ferguson March 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM
Cameras cost money to operate, Bill. I'm sure that in a perfect world we'd have everything we want, but in this world government has to make choices.
Patti March 11, 2014 at 12:44 PM
Every time you put the ability to write tickets in the hands of a private company you raise the question of: is this company bending the rules to write more tickets?" just sayin' ... maybe it's a good thing, and that this belongs in the hands of not-for-profit citizens.
Elvis March 11, 2014 at 04:11 PM
The article does not mention the rate of return for the fines versus the amount the cameras cost to run. Which is probably the real reason/best reason to cancel it. The san rafael system was very sophisticated in that there was a picture of the driver, a picture of the license plate from the rear and also a video of the vehicles moving thru the intersection when the light was red. Even though the ratio of drivers paying their fines compared to actual violations was higher than other camera systems, i.e. the ones in SF, I would assume the overall cost to run the program was more than the total fines brought in. That would be an excellent reason to discontinue the program. But it was effective in getting the red light violations down to 4-5 per day, from the high of over 10 per day. Another point is that the accidents did not drop that much since the cameras were put in, which means to me there were not many in the first place.
Michael March 11, 2014 at 08:58 PM
good riddance I say. We need far less government intrusion into our lives NOT more. Programs like this are a total waste of taxpayer funds. Its more about the goodie goodie feeling many get thinking that "now we will have more control over the lawbreakers and it will be a safer place". Pure BS. I am truly amazed at how easily people have accepted cameras being installed just about everywhere. Orwell's vision has indeed come true... 1984. The problem we really have is that the consequences of breaking some of the basic necessary laws (like traffic lights which without them would create chaos because of the basic "it's all about me and my needs" nature of human beings) is not severe enough. We are awash in a pile of laws with little to no teeth in them. And in CA we have a group of people who whine the loudest when we try to real in those scum who drive without a license or insurance. "Don't these poor misunderstood lawbreaking people have rights" they say. Can you say special interest groups!
Kevin Moore March 11, 2014 at 09:01 PM
This should be about PUBLIC SAFETY, not GOVERNMENT REVENUE. ------------- Red light tickets cost a driver more than a ticket issued by an officer. Why does someone have to pay extra? ----- Not mentioned the company is being investigated for bribery.


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