Let’s Discuss: Should Red Light Cameras Be Used to Ticket Rolling Right Turn Violations?

red light, red light camera, right turn on red, rolling stop
WeHo’s Public Safety Commission had a debate at its last meeting over a proposal by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to start ticketing drivers in West Hollywood who make a right turn at a red light without stopping.

Running a red light, whether by racing directly through an intersection or turning right on red without stopping first, is an indisputable violation of the law. But there are questions as to how effective penalties for illegal right turns on red are when it comes to stopping accidents. And many people are upset about the fine associated with those tickets.

The fine actually is $100 for violating the law. But over the years the state legislature has tacked on a host of additional fines designed not to punish one for breaking the law but to help pay for everything from courthouse construction ($50), emergency medical services ($20) and court operations expenses ($40). The end result is a fine of $490.

West Hollywood agreed in 1999 to install a system in which cameras could capture images of vehicles running through red lights. The cameras were installed initially at six intersections and then at 24 approaches to eight intersections on major streets and boulevards such as Santa Monica, Beverly, Robertson and Fountain. The city reports that the program has been successful in reducing accidents and violations in concert with other steps such as installing “count down” pedestrian indicators at traffic light signals and high visibility “zebra” style crosswalks. That system has been used by law enforcement officers to identify cars that drive straight through an intersection while the light was red.

But they didn’t pursue those who turned right on red without stopping because it was assumed those drivers were moving at slower speeds and posing less of a hazard, and that camera system couldn’t easily catch such drivers. The city began installing a new system last year with cameras that can take videos. That system has alerted officers to a number of dangerous situations involving right turns on red. During a 30-day period ending on April 11, deputies saw 250 incidents in which motorists in West Hollywood made right turns on red without stopping, about 100 of which involved vehicles driving at or over 15 miles an hour.

Because of that, the Sheriff’s Department proposes ticketing drivers in West Hollywood who make right turns on red if their vehicle exceeds 15 miles an hour or 10 miles an hour if the department finds other safety concerns.

Jay Beeber, executive director at Safer Streets LA, is a vocal opponent of red light cameras and especially of using them to target drivers making right turns on red. Beeber argues that “most red light running is unintentional and caused by yellow light times that are too short or other engineering deficiencies.”

“Lengthening the yellow signal to the proper time will reduce violations and collisions as much as 50% or more,” he says on the SafeStreetsLA.org website. Referencing Los Angeles, Beeber says “If the city improved the signal timing and fixed any other engineering deficiencies, accidents and violations would drop and there would be no need for photo enforcement. They are spending your money and giving out millions of tickets for no reason.”

Beeber also argues that “Contrary to LAPD claims, any improvement in accident statistics is a result of state-mandated longer yellow times being implemented when the cameras were installed or a decrease in traffic volume.”

Beeber says that ticketing those who make a “rolling right turn” is especially ineffective and is used to generate revenue. “Most Red Light Camera Programs are subsidized by giving out tens of thousands of citations for rolling right turns which rarely cause accidents,” he writes. “At some intersection approaches rolling-right-turn tickets make up as much as 97% of the citations ….The average number of rolling-right-turn collisions each year was 45 out of an average of approximately 56,000 collisions annually in the City of L.A., which represents just 0.079% of all accidents. … The chance that a rolling-right-turn will result in a collision is 0.00029%. This means that a driver would have to make over 345,345 rolling-right turns before they might be involved in an accident. Drivers who make slow, cautious rolling-right turns will likely never cause an accident.”

Should the City of West Hollywood endorse the Sheriff’s Department’s proposal to use its red-light cameras to issue tickets for “rolling-right turns”?


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Cy Husain
Guest

The liability for red light violations is considered a civil offense as opposed to criminal citation, issued to the vehicle owner just like a parking ticket. The issue of vehicle owner liability has been addressed in the Courts, with a ruling in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in 2007, which agreed with a lower court when it found that the presumption of liability of the owners of vehicles issued citations does NOT violate due process rights. Agomo v. Fenty, 916 181 (District of Columbia Court of Appeals 1st of February 2007). The ruling was supported by a 2009… Read more »

Jerome Cleary
Guest
Jerome Cleary

Here’s the info about that YOU DON’T HAVE PAY YOUR RED LIGHT CAMERA TICKET:
http://www.laweekly.com/news/yes-you-can-still-ignore-that-red-light-camera-ticket-4376619

James Walker
Guest

Red light cameras issue most citations to safe drivers who endangered absolutely no one. They are for-profit rackets that no one should support. WeHo voters need to demand they be be taken down – and vote out every elected officials that supports them if necessary to get the racket stopped.

James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

Joshua88
Guest
Joshua88

LA County stopped honoring these tickets years ago, so NO. People must STOP at a stop sign. People must STOP at a red light. If you are going to proceed without stopping, then you should get a ticket. As a pedestrian, I was in danger by distracted drivers (cellphones) or people – in a hurry (saving a split second) – blowing past stop signs. I would have punched the driver it was the civil thing to do.

James Byrom Holden
Guest

No victim no crime. This is just another non-tax tax. Basically, your elected officials couldn’t write a balanced budget and need more of your money. As long as we only take it from a few “law breakers” people don’t make that big of a fuss. But this is robbery. These machines are ran by for profit companies that have no investment in upholding the law. They only serve the needs of those cashing the checks. Tear down your red light cameras Ms Mayor!

Roy Oldenkamp
Guest
Roy Oldenkamp

These lights are an equivalent to small town speed traps. They are unconstitutional and Orwellian and should all be removed. Frankly, most Wehoans I have talked to regarding them are incredulous they still exist, let alone are increasing in number. Cops should be in cars monitoring the worst intersections. Oh, and those ticket fees are a poverty tax and indefensibly high. I drive like an old school teacher and still worry I have to blast through those camera intersections to not get a ticket. I think they increase danger.

Observer
Guest
Observer

As has been accurately explained by the officer monitoring the Photo Light program in Culver City, YELLOW means CAUTION……… PREPARE TO STOP…..DO NOT SPEED UP! Jay Walking tickets could easily improve pedestrian and vehicle safety. For instance, the scrum at TJ’s/ SM Blvd./West? where pedestrians are invariably oblivious to west bound vehicles turning right especially in heavy traffic, complicated by the pedX on SM. Peds have no consciousness to pause on sidewalk allowing traffic to unsnarl…..”.Sorry folks, I’m too important, am obligated to be glued to my phone and have little concern for my own safety.” Please ticket this type… Read more »

WeHo conscience
Guest
WeHo conscience

What happened to those prominent posted signs that warned about red light cameras? I thought they were required and there appears to be no signage at any of the newly upgraded intersections. If it were really about safety and prevention, there’d be plenty of warning to affect behavior. If there are no warning signs, then it is clearly meant to entrap unsuspecting drivers. As for real pedestrian and bicyclist safety at intersections or trouble spots, I’m all for it. Here’s a better idea: just record all traffic activity at problem locations with posted warning signs. If an ordinary citizen wishes… Read more »

Sam
Guest
Sam

Victor – I one million percent agree with you that bicyclists that ride on the sidewalks especially when there is a bike lane should be ticketed. I understand that it is can be unsafe to ride in the street when there is no bike lane but bicyclists need to respect and YIELD to pedestrians just like the law says when riding on the sideWALK. and not to expect the pedestrian to jump out of the way for them. I also think the bicyclists should be ticketed when they run every single stop sign and most red lights if there are… Read more »

Christopher Roth
Guest

Our parking enforcement team has to be one of the most efficient in the U.S. Do we want visitors to our city have their last impression be an expensive ticket in the mail?

Sam
Guest
Sam

I know this article is about stopping for a right turn on a red light but I think 100% of traffic lights should have cameras that ticket people that run red lights. BUT….. they all must have a large countdown above the light displaying how long until the light will change to yellow, It needs to be large enough to be seen from at least a half a block away. So when you are a half a block away doing 40MPH, you see that you only have 2 seconds before the light is going to change to yellow, you know… Read more »

victor
Guest
victor

I’m for “yellow light” cameras for cars that violate the laws at crosswalks. Red light cameras are just plain wrong. As for pedestrians and bicyclists, let’s start ticketing bicyclists who use the sidewalk in an unsafe manner. I am tired of practically being smacked by these jerks who want to ride a bike but can’t use the bike lane. And, we should have an ordinance equivalent to “jay walking” that allows the Sheriffs to ticket distracted pedestrians who cause near accidents because the don’t pay attention while walking in the crosswalks (too early or too late). Didn’t your Mother ever… Read more »