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Red Light Cameras ineffective in reducing violations

Original post made by Roger Jones on May 20, 2013

This letter was sent to Menlo Park City Council as well as Sgt. Kaufman.
May 20, 2013
Sgt. Sharon Kaufman
Menlo Park Police Dept.

Dear Sgt. Kaufman,

When we talked last week I said extending yellow light times would reduce red light running whereas massive enforcement does not and will not accomplish this primary goal except for an initial period of time. Mark Riggs of Redflex said pretty much the same thing.

I call your attention to the signal light at Bayfront Expressway and Willow Rd. In July of 2010, the yellow light for the left turn lanes was extended from 3.0 to 3.5 seconds to allow motorists who approach at speeds far above 25 mph enough time to recognize the change to yellow and to come to a complete stop.

And what have been the results of this seemingly insignificant change?

With the short 3.0 second yellow, violations averaged 213 per month for the 12 month period before the change. After the change? Violations in the 27 months following the change averaged only 80 per month. In fact, the average would have been even lower, 64 per month, had not there been nearly triple the number of violations in 3 of the last 4 months in the study period.

Throwing out those 3 recent months of June, July, and August of 2012 where violations tripled, Menlo Park experienced a 70% reduction to red light running at this location.

You steadfastly insist there will be rebound effect. There has been none so far. If you can spot one, please let me know. It has been nearly 3 years. Still waiting?

Let's not lose sight of the fairness issue. What of those over 2,000 motorists who needlessly were cited for being 1/2 second late or less before the change was made? Tickets with fines and fees exceeding one million dollars ($1,000,000)? What were they guilty of? Being human? Having normal reaction/perception reaction times? I would say they were obeying Newton's laws which say objects moving at higher rates of speed need more time to stop.

Sincerely,

Roger Jones
Organizer
Red Light Camera Protest Group

p.s. Would you know what would account for a tripling of violations in June, July, and August of 2012?

cc: City Council of Menlo Park

Comments (1)

Posted by Good letter, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2013 at 8:34 am

Can you say "conflict of interest"? Do you really expect Menlo Park cops to do the right thing regarding these traffic camera scams when it's been sold to them on the basis that it will increase Menlo Park revenue, to help defray the compensation hits and retirement pension hits Menlo Park cops should be taking to balance budgets?

While your letter addresses the ethics and merits of the program, don't ignore the fact that the Menlo Park automated enforcement program is illegal.

Vehicle Code 21455.5 (g) (1) states: "A contract between a governmental agency and a manufacturer or supplier of automated enforcement equipment may not include provision for the payment or compensation to the manufacturer or supplier based on the number of citations generated, or as a percentage of the revenue generated, as a result of the use of the equipment authorized under this section."

The contract between Menlo Park and Redflex (the supplier) has such a provision.

Any defendant who has made this argument in San Mateo court has gotten their ticket dismissed. Although some traffic commissioners ignore this issue, those defendants who have appealed it to a superior court judge have obtained justice 100% of the time.


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