Red light cameras facing backlash from cities

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A red light camera-equipped traffic light

Though red light cameras are an efficient way of catching drivers breaking the law, citizens of various cities are trying to get rid of them. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A lot of cities have installed red light cameras at intersections in order to catch people running red lights in the act and ensure they are fined for it. However, cities including Los Angeles, Houston and Spokane, Wash., are trying to get rid of the cameras for various reasons.

Los Angeles red light camera pilot program winding down

TheĀ  Los Angeles City Council is gridlocked over whether to continue the pilot program that put red light cameras at a few intersections, according to the Los Angeles Times. Council members argued that the red light cameras are an essential part of traffic safety in the city, though only 32 intersections are equipped with the cameras out of more than 4,000 intersections in L.A. The cameras capture pictures of people who don’t stop at an intersection on a red light. The council recently voted 7 to 5 to keep the cameras but fell short of the eight votes required to pass the measure. The cameras cost $1 million per year, and 45 percent of offenders don’t pay their fines.

Washington state judge tosses camera tickets

A Washington Superior Court judge recently threw out red light camera tickets in Spokane, Wash., after the tickets were found to have been electronically signed by the Arizona company that administers the cameras, according to MSNBC. Tickets have to be signed in Washington by a police officer. Residents in Washington state are becoming hostile regarding the cameras, according to the Seattle Times, as bills are being introduced to the Washington legislature to curb use or make installation of the cameras only possible by popular referendum. Citizens of Mukilteo, Wash., passed a resolution this year that required all cameras be approved by public vote and then voted to get rid of the cameras. A former executive of American Traffic Solutions, a company that many cities contract with for the cameras, was found to have posted comments on Washington state newspapers’ websites posing as a resident of the state, according to Spokane newspaper the Spokesman Review, and got suspended when Everett, Wash., newspaper The Herald tracked down the source of the comments.

Fiscal gains considerable

A lot of people suggest profit is the main motive for using the cameras. Spokane makes $500,000 per year from the cameras. ATS also administers cameras in Los Angeles and its lobbying representatives from Sage Advisors were at the L.A. city council meetings described above. ATS is also trying to get up to $20 million from the city of Houston, Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle, after citizens of Houston voted via referendum to shut the red light camera system down before the contract between Houston and ATS expired.

Sources

Los Angeles Times

MSNBC

Seattle Times

Spokesman Review

Houston Chronicle


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