Red-light, greenback light

| 4/22/2011

The issue over red-light cameras has never been hotter than it is right now in Los Angeles as the City Council prepares to review the current camera contracts. The National Motorists Association and OOIDA are pushing against the renewal, saying red-light cameras are more about making money than they are about safety.

Approximately 80 percent of the tickets are issued for rolling right turns, says Gary Biller, executive director of the National Motorists Association. Those tickets are $466 a pop.

“The Los Angeles red-light camera issue is particularly onerous for motorists and truckers because most of the revenue is from rolling right turns,” Biller told Land Line Magazine. “Rolling right turns have no basis on safety statistics whatsoever.”

NMA supports the extension of the yellow-light duration to make intersections safer. A study by the Texas Transportation Institute shows intersections were instantly made safer when yellow-light times were extended.

Rhodes Rigsby, mayor of Loma Linda, CA, shelved red-light cameras in his town last December and is urging Los Angeles to follow suit. Much of the revenue generated before Rigsby was mayor went to the camera operator, which left very little for the city coffers.

The Los Angeles City Council takes up its contract renewal on Tuesday, April 26. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. local time at John Ferraro Council Chamber, Room 340, 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

The National Motorists Association and OOIDA are calling on their respective memberships to get involved.

“We’re not defending people that blow through red lights,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said. “The overwhelming body of evidence indicates that red-light cameras exist to generate revenue. These certainly can be mobile slot machines.”

The issue reaches further than that for truckers and motorists who reside in L.A., given the Port of Los Angeles and tourist destinations.

“We certainly want members to be aware and would certainly hope that members living in the area would take the time to become involved in discussing issues that are relevant to them with their appropriate government representatives,” Spencer said.

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners recently voted 3-2 to accept a recommendation by the Los Angeles Police Department in favor of red-light cameras. Commissioners were split, Biller said, because of last-minute testimony of an NMA member, Jay Beeber, on the safety implications of the cameras.

Biller says the frequency of rear-end collisions increases when red-light cameras are in use.

The City Council could vote Tuesday on the commissioners’ recommendation. According to agenda item 11-0554, the City Council intends to extend the contract on a temporary basis starting May 1 for a total period of time not to exceed 90 days.

Biller said the temporary extension would buy the council members more time to study the safety issue.