A series of malfunctions afflicting Union City's red-light camera system is estimated to have cost the city more than $1 million. Police projected that the cameras, installed at five intersections in July to nab red-light runners, would net the city $1 million from traffic tickets this fiscal year, said Administrative Services Director Rich Digre. Instead, he reported to the City Council this week, Union City will lose $50,000. A timing error with the lights cost the city nearly $500,000 in expected revenue last summer, but that was not the system's only malfunction. Shortly after the city in September lengthened the duration of yellow lights to meet state standards, the system's computer motherboard failed at several intersections, allowing at least hundreds of red-light runners to go unpunished. It took the city's vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems, about a month to detect the malfunction and another two weeks to repair it. The cameras did not become fully functional until December. City officials estimated that the camera program would cost $476,000 to operate, while generating $1.5 million from traffic tickets this fiscal year, which ends June 30. But as of the end of March, the city had collected $344,000 from red-light violations.
Finally a productive use of photo enforcement has been invented to reduce noise. New photo enforced camera technology will ticket noisy cars and motorcycles. Transportation officials are looking to expand the use of photo enforcement for motorists who blast their stereos or use modified or who have loud exhausts. One agency has expressed interest in a ticketing system developed by Acoustic Research Laboratories, a New South Wales company that developed acoustic detection equipment.
The fully automated setup mails traffic citations to passing vehicles that exceed a predetermined noise threshold. It can detect loud subwoofers, a noisy exhaust, or even an inopportune honk of the horn.
The new contractor behind Annapolis, Maryland's five cameras is a for-profit company, the CEO of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based American Traffic Solutions said . . .
"If we don't show results, people won't contract with us," said Jim Tuton, whose company runs cameras in New York City, Philadelphia and Laurel. "It is very rare the cameras don't result in a rapid reduction in accidents." "Our technology is very advanced and catches more than the old system," said Mr. Tuton, predicting more tickets will be issued with the new cameras. He said unlike the old film cameras, the new digital cameras can monitor all travel lanes in a given direction, instead of just one, and offer higher resolutions. The new cameras also record video as well as two still photos, showing exactly what happened when the car ran the red light. That means people can't blame an ambulance or funeral procession for making them run the light unless that truly is the case.
Controversial speed cameras on Scottsdale's slice of Loop 101 are expected to face a crucial test on the House floor next week. The outcome of that vote could decide if cameras would be banned from all state freeways, including Loop 101, as early as Dec. 31. Scottsdale drew intense legislative scrutiny this year after it became the first city in the United States to install fixed cameras on a state highway. The cameras began flashing drivers Jan. 22, and the test program, designed to review driving habits, runs through Oct. 22. More than 180,000 motorists drive through Scottsdale's stretch of the 101 daily. From Jan. 22 through Wednesday, 24,853 drivers were flashed going 76 mph or faster. Scottsdale officials said they've seen photo enforcement work on city streets, but legislators have taken aim by introducing 13 bills targeting the program.