Red-light cams could go bye-bye in Los Angeles

| 6/23/2011

Opponents of red-light cameras have won a small victory in Los Angeles, but with time still left on the clock, the cameras aren’t being taken down just yet.

On Tuesday, June 21, the Los Angeles City Council failed to garner enough support to keep the city’s $2.7 million red-light camera program operating. The council needed eight “yes” votes to overturn the Los Angeles Police Commission’s recommendation to terminate the program, but the City Council vote ended up 7-5.

Even though the city’s contract with American Traffic Solutions at 32 intersections is set to expire July 31, the City Council may not let it die that easily, says red-light camera opponent Jay Beeber.

“They’re trying to find enough votes to get this through,” Beeber told Land Line. “This is uncharted territory, so we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Beeber’s group, Safer Streets L.A., cautions on its website that anyone living in, working in or visiting Los Angeles is getting ripped off by red-light cameras.

That’s OOIDA’s position too – that the cameras are there to generate revenue rather than make intersections safer.

Council members could still take action prior to the July 31 contract deadline, and Beeber thinks that is likely to happen.

“Right now, it’s scheduled to expire the 31st, unless they do something,” Beeber says. “They’re going to try everything they possibly can to get the votes.”

OOIDA continues to fight “gotcha” methods of enforcement like red-light cameras, and for good reason.

A 2005 study by the Federal Highway Administration showed that while right-angle crashes decreased by 25 percent and injuries from right-angle crashes decreased by 16 percent at intersections with red-light cameras. However, the study also showed that rear-end crashes increased by 15 percent and injuries from rear-end crashes increased by 24 percent.

Beeber says there are some in the Los Angeles political scene who are trying to say that crashes at intersections equipped with cameras have decreased 63 percent.

“I actually looked into the truth on it,” he said, adding that at the same time the cameras were installed, the all-red time was increased to allow traffic to clear an intersection before someone gets the green. He says those statistics are being manipulated to make it look as if the intersections are safer.

“I started to realize that this is not about safety, but about funneling money to big companies,” he said.

Supporters of the program, including members of the Los Angeles City Council, are being quoted in local media as saying the issue is not over yet despite being in limbo. They continue to say the program is about safety and not about the money.