10/23/2008California: Another City Dumps Red Light Cameras
El Monte, California votes to eliminate red light cameras after study shows they did not reduce accidents.
Following San Jose, California's recent decision to reject red light cameras, the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte yesterday decided to put an end to photo ticketing after five years of use proved disappointing. With a unanimous vote, the city council declined to renew its contract with Australian camera vendor Redflex because, according to police, the cameras failed to produce any reduction in the number of intersection accidents. More importantly, however, the devices failed to produce revenue.
"We're spending a lot of staff time on this just to gain $2000 a month," City Manager James W. Mussenden explained. "It doesn't reduce accidents -- that's what our studies and results have come back."
Data obtained by highwayrobbery.net suggest the loss in revenue could be related to changes in intersection signal timing. On April 12, 2004 the city increased the yellow warning time to 3.5 seconds for the left turn movements at the intersection of Peck Road and Ramona Boulevard. The results were immediately felt. In March 2004, before the increase, Redflex mailed 665 tickets. In May, the first full month after the increase, citations dropped to 265. This small engineering improvement cut the photo enforcement system's total profit by $1.4 million.
This result is also consistent with the Texas Transportation Institute finding that increasing the yellow signal time beyond the bare minimum amount can decrease violations by 53 percent (view report). The disappointing lack of violations gave the police department a green light to announce that the program had failed to save lives.
"A comparison of traffic collisions at Redflex monitored intersections vs. non-Redflex monitored intersections revealed that there is no statistical difference in the number of traffic collisions because of Redflex monitoring," Police Chief Ken Weldon wrote in a memo to the council.
As a result of the council's action, the city's two red light cameras will be disconnected by November 30. A copy of the police memo is available in a 43k PDF file at the source link below.