Guest Post: Urge Gov. Brown to protect your life by signing a law promoting use of safety cameras

Los Angeles turned off its red light cameras last year, opening the door for scofflaw drivers to blow through red lights when there’s not a cop around.

There were a lot of reasons for that decision, including a lack of enforcement that made payment of fines just this side of voluntary. As well as accusations that they were used to fill city coffers, rather than actually improving safety. 

A new law sitting on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk that could change that. 

All he has to do is sign it to make it law. Then again, he doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to signing traffic safety bills.

The Traffic Safety Coalition is asking you to sign a letter today urging Gov. Brown to approve the bill before it dies on his desk in a pocket veto at the end of the month.

After all, a cyclist who runs a red light might get himself killed.  But a red light-running driver could kill you. Or someone you love.

I’ll let them explain.

……..

The Traffic Safety Coalition, a national not-for-profit grassroots organization with a chapter in California, is encouraging biking advocates to sign a letter to Governor Brown in support of Senate Bill 1303 (“SB 1303”), legislation that has passed both chambers of the California legislature and is currently awaiting his signature before the end of the month.  If the Governor does not sign the bill within the next 5 days, the legislation is vetoed and will not become law.

SB 1303 reforms the use of traffic safety cameras (more commonly known as “red light cameras”) to encourage a focus on safety as a reason to use cameras rather than other motives.  The letter can be viewed and signed on the Coalition’s website at www.trafficsafetycoalition.com/caletter.

As you will read in the letter, for a number of reasons SB 1303 is a step in the right direction for the dozens of communities across the state that use traffic safety cameras to effectively and efficiently enforce our most basic traffic safety law – red means stop.   The bill does a few things:

  • It requires communities to make decisions about the placement of cameras for the right reasons – i.e., for safety reasons only and not for purposes of generating revenue.
  • It makes it easier for people to get cleared of wrongful tickets
  • It promotes transparency and public awareness by implementing strict signage requirements requiring the posting of signs alerting drivers of photo enforcement technology within 200 feet of an intersection

As municipalities across California continue to struggle with budget cuts, enforcement of basic traffic safety laws often must take a back seat to serious crimes and other community safety matters.  Through photo enforcement, local law enforcement has a tool that can help ensure traffic safety while law officers spend their time on more pressing matters – and the numbers prove photo enforcement is effective.

More than 50 communities in California currently use traffic safety cameras to make their roads safer.  For example, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, fatal red light running crashes are down 62% in San Diego, 55% in Bakersfield, 53% in Sacramento, 44% in Santa Ana, and 34% in Long Beach.  All of these are well above the 24% average reduction in fatal red light running crashes in 14 of the largest cities in the U.S. using cameras.  In fact, studies show that between 2004 and 2008 over 150 lives were saved in those cities thanks to cameras, and a startling 800 more lives could have been saved had every large city in the U.S. been using them.

The Traffic Safety Coalition is proud to work to support this technology with more than two dozen bike and pedestrian advocacy organizations across the country.  Our partners include the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Ride of Silence, California Bicycle Coalition and California Walks.  In addition to supporting the use of safety cameras, the Coalition has worked with its partners to support 3-foot passing legislation and Complete Streets bills.

The effective use of safety cameras isn’t just a matter of catching drivers who break the law.  It’s also about deterring the illegal and dangerous behavior that puts cyclists at risk every day.  On your bike, you aren’t protected by a steel shell when someone runs a red light.  Consider signing the letter to urge Governor Brown to do the right thing and help keep California roads safe for everyone.

7 comments

  1. adam says:

    I walk a lot and bike, seldom drive, but I think virtually any law supporting red light cameras is bad. These systems cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and maintain and most of the money goes to private companies linked to the defense industry. Politicians will twist the best intended laws and high tech equipment to their own ends, trampling all sorts of rights, privacy and otherwise, in the process.

    Why don’t we just make cops who we already pay hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries and great pensions to routinely patrol the most accident prone intersections (and randomly set up stings at other intersections). When I was a kid cops walked a beat and routinely conducted “stings” at intersections to catch red light runners. As a result, pretty much no one ran red lights. We’re already paying cops. Why not put them to work? I don’t know how many times I’ve almost been hit by COPS blowing through intersections, U turning in intersections, much less civilian drivers. I don’t buy the argument that cities’ financial issues makes a cops’ job harder. I don’t think they do that much work anyway. I used to really respect cops, but not these days.They are already paid. I rarely see cops doing ANYTHING besides riding around talking on their cell phones so why not put all that man and woman power to work instead of spending hundreds of millions on complicated flawed systems that are highly error prone and just fill the coffers of big defense industries? I believe this would reduce fatalities more than cameras because no one wants to get detained AND get a big ticket. Also, no one can argue with a cop in court, so no worries about people getting out of tickets. Put the cops to work and don’t spend more money we don’t have on fancy camera systems. JUST MAKE THE COPS ENFORCE THE DAMN LAWS! THAT’S THEIR JOB!

  2. There still are lots of photo enforcement cameras in and around the Los Angles area. The MTA has 20 of them along the Blue Line, 27 for the Gold Line, 19 installed on the Expo Line and a whopping 38 along the 18 milie long Orange Line BRT route.
    , http://www.metro.net/board/Items/2011/04_April/20110420OPItem6.pdf

    I believe that the photo enforcement cameras have been a contributer to making the crosswalks that closely parallel the Orange Line much safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Drivers rarely turn right on a red light after the walk signal is activated and left turns seem to be much more orderly.

    Traffic officers spent about two weeks of 12 hour days trying to train drivers before the Orange Line extension opened. Imagine the city doing that in a effort to try and create greater safety for pedestrians or cyclists only. I know, that is unlikely to ever happen.

    The comfort and safety of cyclists crossing major intersections along the Orange Line mixed use path should be the baseline for how other areas of the city should be designed for cyclists.

    There should also be much more miles of protected bike lanes or paths paralleling major streets in LA also. Its quite enlightening to see how many people use the mixed use path that runs down the median of Chandler Blvd in the city of Burbank and also to a lesser degree along the Orange Line path paralleling Canoga Ave.

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  4. kb says:

    Our own camera’s are good enough now. Post the videos. Demand prosecution. Sue them ourselves.

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