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.
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.