Red Light Robbery

photo by flickr user Wyrmworld

By Griffin Laymon

The controversial issue of red light cameras in San Diego may soon come to a stop, or at least change course. Mayor Bob Filner recently promised to scale down the program that over the past year earned San Diego over $200,000. With reports of these cameras going off randomly, and actually adding to the amount of rear end collisions at intersections, many are excited about the disposal of these cameras. Also, with the penalty for being caught by these cameras in the $450 - $550 range, it is impossible to see why someone would not welcome the idea of the doing away with of these cameras.

It turns out that many of the tickets that result from red light cameras don’t hold up in court. In fact, many are thrown out before they’re even reviewed because of questions about accuracy. With this in mind one must wonder: “what is the purpose of these cameras if they are not even effective?” With half of the cases being thrown out and half being sent to the courts, citizens are beginning to realize that there is some unfairness to the process. This is leading to many lawsuits against the county concerning these cameras. With over 11,000 of these cases in Los Angeles, the courts’ budgets are dwindling, as these lawsuits take up 30 percent of all traffic cases on the calendar. Los Angeles is expected to take out all red light cameras by July 31st.

Red light cameras have actually been proven to cause more accidents, as “the number of rear end collisions has increased by almost 15 percent,” stated the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The cause of this increase is drivers who would usually coast through a yellow light instead slam on their brakes in fear of being ticketed. This then causes the driver behind to jam on their brakes; with all the chaos of trying to slow down, the chances of a rear end collision are much larger. The Harbor and Grape intersection near Lindbergh Field has one of the most infamous red light cameras, spotting 389 violations in the past month. Due to this intersection’s extremely active cameras, the staggering amounts of fender benders that take place at it are no surprise.

With California counties slowing down the use of red light cameras, driver’s safety and time will be conserved. Despite the fact that some cities say that the cameras are helpful, the time and money of the courts and police can be used in much more productive ways than monitoring these cameras.