Cedar Rapids Mobile Speed Cameras

Aggressive Mobile Speed Cameras Now Running In CR

Speeding 1 MPH over the posted speed limit will cost your $25 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa according to CBS KGAN (Video).  This policy sounds extremely aggressive and difficult to manage considering that if you are traveling 26 MPH in a 25 MPH school zone you will receive a ticket in the mail for $25.  Also, it was reported that speeding in a construction zone the fines are doubled.

Red light cameras are in place around Cedar Rapids and catching people red handed, but the eyes of Cedar Rapids Police aren't fixed in one place for speeders. Now police are tracking your speed all over the place. Police say schools and construction zones will be strictly enforced. The process for issuing citations will be similar to the red light camera. Police will place the mobile speed vehicle at various places throughout the city to catch speeders.  Police say the camera will be out for a few hours a day or maybe at night?  If you're caught speeding this way, it won't go on your driving record because it's considered a civil matter.

I happened to grow up in Cedar Rapids about 20 years ago and disappointed to see that city officials have to stoop this low to generate revenue for a city that is still suffered from the floods a few years ago.  This is not likely the end of the story so follow us and we will keep you posted.

Scanners to Catch Uninsured Motorists Are Coming

Are you paying your auto insurance premiums every month?  If you are not, watch out because Nevada and a few other states are considering adding photo enforcement as a tool to catch the near 20% of drivers who are on the road without it.  

InsureNet, a Chicago-based company, has offered to pay Nevada $30 million up front for the privilege of setting up scanners and providing the necessary software to nail drivers without insurance. The company would keep a yet-to-be-determined percentage of the fines paid.

If approved by legislators, cameras would be installed at intersections and scan license plates as vehicles pass through. If 20 vehicles zip through an inter section in a 3-second period, the scanner will capture each vehicle's plate information and run it through a national database to determine the insurance status of the driver, Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said.

"The company will decide where they want to put the cameras, but obviously you would put them in a high-traffic area," Burns said. "They sit there and scan all day." About 22 percent of Nevada drivers are without insurance, Burns said.

Legislators have shot down supporters of red-light cameras three times since 2005. Critics aired concerns about the cost and whether cameras violate motorists' rights to privacy and due process.

Insurance companies notify the DMV of insurance lapses every month. Under Nevada LIVE, the DMV will be notified immediately. The offender will receive a verification request in the mail and can dispute the citation online or in person. Motorists who fail to respond will receive a registered letter notifying them of their suspended registration.

"We don't really know too much about it," Tom Jacobs, a DMV spokesman, said of the InsureNet proposal. Burns touted the InsureNet system for its ability to catch out-of-state offenders, but Jacobs questioned the process because not all states have insurance verification programs.

It is unknown how effective InsureNet's system is. No other state has implemented the program. According to the Chicago Tribune, InsureNet representatives told Chicago officials that the company planned to have "three or four states" signed on within months. That was a year ago.

Burns said InsureNet told the governor it planned to have two other states sign on soon.

Judge Rules Red Light Cameras Are Not Legal

In a ruling that could have implications for other cities, a circuit court judge ruled Monday morning that the city of Aventura, Florida cannot use cameras to catch red light runners.  However, it did not file an injunction ordering the city to stop using the cameras. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by a motorist who argued that only the state Legislature can pass laws regarding traffic violations. Cities have gotten around the lack of state authorization by citing red light runners with a code violation, rather than a traffic ticket.

The city can appeal the ruling by Circuit Court Judge Jerald Bagley, and the judge's decision has no bearing on other cities nor did it invalid the constitutionality of red-light programs. But if it stays in force, the ruling could set a legal precedent that could be used in suits against red-light camera programs in other cities.

Other South Florida cities have similar ways to catch speeders and beef up city revenues, so the ruling against the cameras could open the flood gates to challenges. Cities, like Aventura, Miami Beach, Pembroke Pines and others, have used cameras to cite red light runners with a code violation, instead of a traffic violation. Lusskin argued that was merely a way of circumventing the state law and that cities could only issue tickets to red light runners if an officer is present.

In his ruling Monday morning, Bagley sided with Lusskin and granted his motion for summary judgment against Aventura.

The lawyer representing Aventura city attorney Michael S. Popok said that the judge's ruling only addressed whether or not cities can issue fines based on the red-light cameras - and not the presence of the cameras themselves or the program. The state charter says that cities have the power to use ``security devices'' to ``regulate'' what occurs on the roadways, and the issue, according to Popok, is whether or not the word ``regulate'' gives cities the authority to issue fines.

The judge did not issue an injunction against the program as part of his ruling, so it can continue to operate while the city decides whether or not to file an appeal.

Failure to Stop on Red Ticket

How much does a Failure to Stop on Red ticket cost?  We have over 170 locations in our database (as of February 2010) around the US in and the fine ranges from $50 on the East Coast and up to $350 on the West Coast in California.   The amount of the fine is set by each city and would recommend you search for "Right Turn Cameras" in our open database at PhotoEnforced.com to get a better idea of what it will be in your city.

Illegal rolling right turns are when a driver does not come to a "complete stop" before making the turn. These  turns result in a ticket when the driver makes a right turn on red regardless if they came to a complete stop. Its a very "grey area" what a "complete stop" is but I have been told its anything under 7MPH.  If you are traveling over 7MPH measured by the camera pictured above you will likely get a ticket.

Photo enforcement of illegal right turns or failure to stop on red is becoming a very popular revenue source among many city's around the US. Illegal right turns are made when a sign clearly states "no right on red" or "after stop a right turn is permitted on red' or "stop here on red" (pictured above).

We would appreciate any feedback from drivers around the Country to clarify this below under comments.

Red Light Camera Costs Uncovered

The two largest red light camera operators ATS and Redflex will likely do more than $200M in revenue in 2010 just in the U.S.  This could be a very light estimate based on the lack of transparency on the number of cameras in operation. I know for a fact the the information they provide on their web sites are out of date.

Here is how we calculated it:  Redflex charges $4,396 per month and American Traffic Soltuions (ATS) charges $4,750 per month per camera according to many news articles around the U.S. Multiple the amount of revenue per camera per month and you come up with a an estimate of what the company will do in revenue in 2010. Based on our calculations ATS likely has more than 2,000 cameras in operation and therefore will likely do about $108M in revenue in 2010 and Redflex has reportedly more than 1,700 cameras in operation and therefore will do around $89M according to our estimates.

Other companies like Red Speed charge $1,499 per month per camera according to news articles.

Real Time Traffic + Camera Locations

We Want Real Time Traffic + Photo Enforced Locations 

Traffic has been a hot topic lately with people debating which traffic providers.  Real time traffic data services are destined to be one of the biggest advances in GPS systems for the consumer. While GPS devices strive to provide the fastest route from point A to B, they generally do so by considering the most optimistic road conditions. This route should be the quickest assuming there are no traffic delays.  Live traffic reporting services aim to change that. But which traffic services are the best in the U.S. and what type of data is available, and how well does it work?

When a debate comes up over which traffic data provider is “better” the discussion almost always ends up  at which map has more colored roads. Their seems to be a pressure to paint more colors on more roads which is appealing to the traffic providers as it makes them look like they have more coverage in more places. To some extent that is true but if I am driving and traffic is flowing nicely.  I suppose I don't have to use the navigation or application on my phone and I can turn it off.  What if the traffic data providers starting thinking out of the box and provide other point of interest data to drivers like red light camera and speed camera information.  You might be even more motivated to constantly use a traffic app at all times even when traffic is ok.  Also, I really only care about where I am now and what else might be around me like red light cameras or speed cameras if traffic is flowing.

Sensors & Fleet Data
Traffic data suppliers, like traffic.com (owned by Navteq), INRIX (independent), TrafficCast.com collect data from road sensors, local departments of transportation, data collected from operators of large fleets of vehicles, and other manual sources such as traffic helicopters and listening to police scanners.  Traffic.com is rumored to be making a concerted effort to monetize its traffic applications through advertising as it is no longer independent and owned my a mobile phone company Navteq / Nokia. INRIX remains commercially focused on OEM car manufacturers and is rumored to be an IPO candidate in 2010.

Cell Phone Data
Other traffic data suppliers like Airsage (independent) collect information to by tracking congestion on roadways via your cellphone. This data is tracked "anonymously" through partnerships with companies like Verizon. Some criticize this method as being inaccurate especially in areas where there are lots of pedestrians on the street walking.  Google happens to be the largest customer of Airsage at the present time.

Visual and Voice Data
Some companies like Westwood One & Clear Channel use other drivers, helicopters and visual traffic cameras to broadcast on the radio to their listeners about problem areas around the city.  This method is very labor intensive and requires lots of people.  However, these methods are usually funded by advertising sales teams who sell radio air time.

Traffic Lawyer Reviews

We have noticed a growing trend of law firms and attorneys advertising their legal services on Google to help you fight traffic tickets in court.  Below is a list of traffic lawyers that advertise on Google Ad words.  We started this list to get your feedback on their performance and services in our comments section below.  As we receive feedback users both positive and negative they will be posted on a separate page and link provided.  Please send us any attorneys that we may be missing and we will add them to this list. Thanks in advance for your help!

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Red Light Districts

Red-light districts

LA Observed Sketchbook - Red light districts operations designed to rake in the money while actually worsening things in the vicinity.  Red-light cameras are pretty much the exact same thing as Amersterdam's red light camera district.  

The National Motorist Association NMA has been contending that red-light cameras (RLCs) are a detriment to motorist safety for many years. People, both in the media and in the general public, often dismiss this claim as opinion, suggest that there isn’t enough data available yet, ask why we support people who run red lights (we don’t), or write off the organization as being biased. Read this List of Research Reports from NMA

Why Our Competitors Claim Crowdsourcing Sucks

I have to laugh every time I see one of our competitors claim: "Our red light camera database is the best because OUR  locations are verified."  Its a big fat lie and a half truth.  Here is a recent quote by a "no name" company in their press release:   "Unlike other safety cameras that use inferior databases which often depend heavily on unqualified and frequently incorrect user input, or old, expired data, the database contains data points that are continually verified through research and a network of professionals. The new camera locations are not just added in, earlier data points but are verified for continued relevance and are removed if they are found to be no longer in force. Our database was named the most accurate safety cam database in a recent category test."

10 things you should substantiate before licensing data from competitive red light camera database:

1) Verification of 3,000-7,000 locations with all 500+ cities, municipalities and county's is a LIE.

2) No sources or history for their data being added, removed and/or methodology for gathering data (thieves)

3) No info on the number of locations in the database (fear of being incomplete)

4) No volunteers on the ground in the hundreds of municipalities (no goodwill)

5) No press coverage and blogger or user credibility (because they copy)

6) Refusal to have a "bake off" competition to substantiate their data (fear of being wrong)

7) We were the U.S. pioneers in 2001 which is 3 times longer than any competitor (late to the game)

8) PhotoEnforced.com has had well over one million people visit our site (brand recognition)

9) Google Street maps pictures are old and cannot verify new cameras (nice try)

10) Business models borrowed from Europe which has 40K (5x) locations (Google Ads changing the game)

We have by far the most complete database of 7000+ locations contrary to what the companies with deep pockets and PR will try to promote. What our competitors don't know is that we have a public database and a private database for our customers. Our public database is 95% accurate but there are some phantom locations purposely inserted to keep thieves from copying the entire database which has been done many times. Just to be clear we encourage individual users to download and use the data in their local markets and give us accuracy feedback for free.

Over time we eventually ferret out false locations because of our enormous consumer reach of nearly 1,000 ticketed drivers per each day visit our web site. We think more than half of people who think they receive tickets look online at our site for sources to verify the locations and come to our site first from a Google search engine query.  Also, we have had numerous former employees from each company tell us that they in fact they use Photoenforced.com as their primary source of data.

If any competitors would like to post a rebuttal to my accusations please do so below.

Loma Linda Keeps Rolling Right Turn Cameras

Press-Enterprise - Monday, February 15, 2010

The City Council agreed last week to leave the cameras in place at four intersections on Redlands Boulevard and Barton Road after learning that the number of traffic citations has dramatically dropped and that it would cost the city more than $534,000 to cancel its contract with the camera operator 10 months early.

Four months after Redflex Traffic Systems installed the cameras in 2006, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department reported that it was writing 1,200 tickets a month. Last month, City Attorney Richard Holdaway said the cameras captured 451 potential violations and only 157 tickets were issued.

Of the violations spotted in January, Holdaway said, 130 potential citations were not written because the deputy reviewing the pictures made "a finding of safe right turn on red."

City Council members say they have been besieged with complaints from motorists forced to pay a fine of more than $450 for not making a complete stop before turning right at the intersections of Anderson Street and Mountain View Avenue with Barton Road and Redlands Boulevard.

Holdaway met in closed session with the council last week to advise council members on the legal ramifications of cancelling Redflex's contract before it expires in December.

Then, in public session, City Manager T. Jarb Thaipejr disclosed that the cost to the city would be $534,558.83 if the contract were terminated this month and would amount to $42,000 a month for the remaining term if the council pulls the plug later this year.

Councilmen Rhodes "Dusty" Rigsby and Ovidiu Popescu lobbied last month for either pulling the plug on the cameras or telling the Sheriff's Department not to enforce right-turn violations based on photos from the cameras. They said the $13.5 million in fines imposed since the cameras were installed has been draining the local economy and discouraging people from driving to and through the city of 22,000 residents.

Holdaway said the state Vehicle Code precludes the city from ordering deputies not to write citations.

"Ultimately," he said, "the Sheriff's Department has the sole discretion as to whether or not to issue a citation. We need to respect that discretion that the law enforcement officer has.

"As a result of this discussion, the Sheriff's Department is exercising that discretion ... and they're looking at some of the safety issues, whether or not a particular situation rises to a significant safety violation," Holdaway said. "Right turn situations, the notorious California stop, are some of the situations that they're looking at."

Rigsby noted that the city's decision to increase the length of time that the lights are yellow by one second, at the expense of green lights, has reduced the number of left-turn violations from 240 month to 25 or 30.

He said the most egregious violations involve motorists who drive straight ahead through red lights and those incidents at the four intersections produced only five violations.

"That is tremendous improvement in safety from what we were seeing in the past," he said. "We could have had that safety with lengthening the yellow lights four years ago instead of installing red-light cameras.

Councilman Floyd Petersen, who has complained about the steep fines for right turns, said he was impressed with the decline in violations. He said it is "a very strong indication ... of increased safety at the intersections."

He also said that despite that decline, "I still very, very strongly feel that another issue needs to be addressed here. A $450 ticket for right-hand turn is ludicrous."

Mayor Stan Brauer acknowledged concerns about the message that ignoring violations would have.

"What do we tell our teen-age drivers? Well, you don't need to stop for red lights," he said.

Popescu said he is "very optimistic" after learning that the Sheriff's Department is writing fewer citations for right turns.

He said he still believes the city has a "viable option for us to get out of the contract early, given what I believe is an injury to the community."

He conceded, however, that the cost may be prohibitive.

"I think it is a little early" to make a final decision, he said, and vowed to bring up the issue again at the council's March 9 meeting.

Illinois Bill Could Ban Red Light Cameras

Legislators in Springfield, Illinois will take up a bill Tuesday that could ban automated red-light cameras.

The bill, which has the support of a number of leading Republicans and Democrats, would remove the right of counties and municipalities in Illinois to use the automated red-light cameras. Those cameras, which ticket motorists for going through stop lights, have popped up at intersections across the city and suburbs.  Its unknown whether the Bill will apply to only new cameras or if the old cameras will be taken down.  History has shown us that previous cameras installed in other cities around the Country are grandfathered in until the contracts with Redflex and ATS have expired.

PhotoEnforced.com has been tracking the growth cameras in Illinois and it is one of the fastest growing states to use the technique.  Based on our open database there are more than 700+ locations being monitored around the state with more than two thirds of them in Chicago.

Supporters of the cameras claim they increase safety. But opponents argue the cameras only bring in revenues.

Blinding Flashes a Nuisance for Motorists

Red-light cameras have become a nuisance for some motorists in the area of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue in Lone Tree, Colorado.

Lone Tree Voice By Chris Michlewicz, Published: 02.12.10

Authorities expect the devices to reduce accidents and traffic congestion. Those who drive along Lincoln Avenue near the I-25 interchange might have seen the bright flashes of light coming from bulbs mounted on light poles at Lincoln and Park Meadows Drive and Lincoln and the highway’s northbound off-ramp, known as San Luis Street. The intersections were identified in a study as problem areas: Lincoln and Park Meadows Drive for congestion, and Lincoln and San Luis for frequent crashes. Lone Tree officials decided to correct the problem by enlisting the services of American Traffic Solutions, which installed and maintains the cameras, prepares violation notices, provides the software for violation approval and collects fines on behalf of the city’s police department.

Since the first set of cameras was placed at Lincoln and Park Meadows Drive in July 2008, Lone Tree has collected $218,000 in fines. That includes numbers from the second and third sets of cameras, which were installed in November. The cameras, however, have proven effective. There is less bottlenecking at the Lincoln and Park Meadows Drive intersection, an issue that caused major back-ups for eastbound and westbound traffic on Lincoln. Statistics on the number of accidents are not yet available, said Sgt. Scott Cavenah, traffic supervisor for the Lone Tree Police Department.

But some motorists are upset about what they call blinding flashes of light, even when there are no vehicles in the intersection. Parker resident David Wilson said he became aware of the cameras as he sat at a red light on westbound Lincoln last summer. While he applauds efforts to improve safety, Wilson believes the cameras could eventually end up causing an accident. “What I can’t understand is the random timing of the photos being taken,” he said. “I watched it flash twice when there was no one even violating the law.” A city spokesperson attributed the “random” flashes to the system “recalibrating” itself. Wilson said the flashes can be distracting to motorists, especially out-of-towners who might not be aware they are present.

The Lincoln and San Luis intersection was found to be a hotspot for regular violations. The study found a high accident rate, a large number of violations during the research period and significant congestion. Furthermore, officers could not effectively work the intersection because of its design. Cavenah has collected data on the intersection, but said the numbers are too preliminary to determine whether the red-light cameras have been effective. “A better comparison can be made once we get at least one-year’s worth of data to review,” he said in an update sent via e-mail. The annual expense to Lone Tree for all three cameras is $180,000. The city ultimately hopes to gain voluntary compliance with the traffic laws and maintain better traffic flow in the area.

Wilson would prefer to see the cameras removed, but expects to see more of them in the Denver metro area in the coming years. “Unfortunately, I think things are going that way,” he said. “They are the cops. They can pretty much do whatever they want.”

Montebello Wastes $500,000 on Red Light Cameras

Montebello deficit fueled by overtime costs and less revenue than expected from red-light cameras.  

Whittier Daily News:  By Thomas Himes, Staff Writer, Posted: 02/11/2010 07:00:49 PM PST

MONTEBELLO - Officials Thursday estimated the City's budget deficit at $3 million and outlined reasons for the short fall that range from red light cameras to overtime hours.  Over the past week, nine employees lost their jobs, dozens more took 5 percent pay reductions and several agreed to retirement, as officials worked to close the deficit.

"Unfortunately, this day has been coming for a long time," said retired city administrator Richard Torres. "I was hoping it could be avoided for at least another year."  Red light cameras fell about $500,000 short of the projected revenue they were expected to create.

"If the program does not result in a positive revenue my recommendation is that we end it, Narramore said."  The city paid consultants $55-per-hour to administer the red light camera program, according to city documents. "We incurred a lot more expenses and a lot less revenue than we thought we would from the cameras," City Councilman Robert Urteaga said. "People simply identified where the cameras are and stopped."

Mayor Bill Molinari said the cameras, which are located at six intersections, have increased public safety.
"The intersections where these cameras were installed had frequent collisions and a number of fatalities," Molinari said. Also, overtime hours the city paid to firefighters, exceeded estimates by about $500,000, Narramore said. "All overtime has been stopped, unless it's an emergency," Narramore said. "We're just not paying overtime for someone to come in and do something they can do the next day."  But, the state's Government Code mandates a minimum of four firefighters to a truck, Narramore said.  "If someone calls out sick, we have to pay some else time-and a half to come in," Narramore said.

Moreno Valley Dumps Red Light Cameras

Alessandro Blvd & Perris Intersection, Moreno Valley, CA

The money making allure of red light cameras has worn off in a pair of Southern California cities as drivers get educated and ticket revenue drops and legal activity rises. In Moreno Valley on Tuesday, the city council voted 3-1 to shut down the automated ticketing machines that have been operating since 2008.

“Due to legal activities in the state legislature in the past few years regarding red light photo enforcement and the lack of public support for the program, city council’s consensus is to discontinue the existing red light photo enforcement service at the end of its 2-year pilot program,” Public Works Director Chris A. Vogt wrote in a memo to the mayor and council. At least one member of the public believed the council’s unspoken motivation has been the lack of expected revenue being generated by the program.

The city will notify Redflex Traffic Systems to remove its equipment from Frederick Street at Centerpoint Drive, and Perris at Alessandro boulevards. Eric Lewis, the city's traffic engineer, evaluated the data and said the 18-month test program was successful: Accidents dropped by a third at Frederick/Centerpoint and 16 percent at the Perris/Alessandro. But the program proved to be a marginal moneymaker, the public detested it and the council decided it wasn't worth it.

Valentine's Day Nationwide Protest

Republican Scott Tucker, nominee for the 11th District's State House seat in Illinois, has made the red-light cameras a major issue in his campaign. He told The Expired Meter blog: "I think it's a quality of life issue... it's a tax presented as public safety. It takes money out of the citizens' pockets and puts it into the hands of wasteful government." Take a stand against the cameras at the corner of Addison and Western, from 12 to 3 p.m. on Sunday.  They've organized a Nationwide Campaign on Facebook to protest the cameras on Valentine's Day

If you have red light cameras in your city, make signs, gather near a red light camera, and protest! We can supply you with information to hand out to inform drivers of the top 15 reasons why they should be concerned about red light cameras and 5 ways to prevent red light running. Our other suggestion is that you hand out contact information for all your city council representatives, ask driver's to call them, and if you have a bill in your state banning red light cameras, add that information to a flier as well!!

If you decide to hold a protest, give us the location of your protest and we'll add it to the list below. Let's make our voices HEARD all throughout the country that we want to BAN THE CAMS!!!

Date: Sunday, February 14, Noon
Location: Intersection of Derrene and Abercorn

Date: Sunday, February 14, Noon - 3pm
Location: 39th and Southwest Trafficway

Date: Sunday, February 14, Noon
Location: Intersection Broadway and Providence Road

Date: Sunday, February 14th, Noon
Location: TBA

Date: Sunday, February 14, Noon
Location: Intersection of Glenstone and Sunshine

Date: Sunday, February 14, 2pm
Location: TBA

Date: Sunday, February 14th, Noon to 3 pm CT
Location: Intersection of Addison & Western

Date: Sunday, February 14, Noon
Location: S Broad St & S Penn Square

Date: Sunday, February 14th, Noon to 3 pm CT
Location: Intersection of Clayton and Hanley Road

Date: Sunday, February 14, Noon
Location: American Traffic Solutions HQ in Ahwatukee
9801 S 51st Phoenix, AZ 85044

Los Angeles Fines May Be Reduced

Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2010

San Fernando Valley Councilman Dennis Zine would lower fines for red-light violations in L.A.

Councilman says drivers' fines will go down and city revenue will go up if the city processes its own tickets. The county and state are likely to fight the plan, which would decrease their revenue.  Tens of thousands of Los Angeles motorists could see reduced fines for red-light violations -- now hovering around $500 with traffic school fees -- under an unusual proposal presented Wednesday at City Hall.

San Fernando Valley Councilman Dennis Zine introduced a motion to study the feasibility of taking the processing of the city's red-light infractions, and possibly other traffic tickets, out of the hands of the county court system. Such a move could reduce the fines, some of which have risen at three times the rate of inflation in recent years, and increase revenue to the city, Zine said.

The tactic has been quietly adopted by a handful of California towns, but none the size of Los Angeles.

The proposal could trigger a fight with the cash-strapped state as well as judicial agencies, both of which could lose millions in revenue from Los Angeles' red-light tickets. Some have questioned the legality of such city-run adjudication programs.

Red-light ticket revenues have grown in recent years as dozens of California cities have turned to automated photo enforcement systems to monitor intersections around the clock. Los Angeles issues about 3,600 red-light violations per month, just with its camera systems; most have been for rolling right turns.

Los Angeles police officials report that the city netted more than $6 million last year from its photo enforcement program.

Zine, a former Los Angeles traffic officer, has been critical of the jump in red light fines, which are set by state and county agencies.

The fines have become punitive, he argues, particularly for families struggling in the economic downturn. He noted that the city receives only about one-third -- less than $150 -- of the total fine levied for the red-light tickets its officers issue, while on patrol or via camera systems.

Courts might benefit from his proposal because they are overloaded and reducing days of operation, Zine said in an interview. A Los Angeles County Superior Court spokesperson was not available for comment.

Under the proposal, the city would conduct its own administrative hearings on the tickets. Drivers would still get points for violations reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles, he said. The proposal will be initially considered by the council's Public Safety and Budget committees.

Gardena California Extends Red Light Camera Contract

Daily Breeze, 02/10/2010

The Gardena City Council voted unanimously this week to extend a contract for 10 red-light cameras at city intersections. On Tuesday, the council decided to continue with the program even though results have been mixed. A police report on the cameras states that they have not resulted in a noticeable safety enhancement. The number of auto collisions has remained the same at some intersections, while increasing at some and decreasing at others.  A staff report concluded that the community generally believes the cameras have a positive impact. The renewal is good for a five-year term with two two-year renewals.

Intersections with cameras are Normandie Avenue and Artesia Boulevard; Normandie and Redondo Beach Boulevard; Rosecrans Avenue and Budlong Avenue; Western Avenue and 158th Street; Redondo Beach Boulevard and Gramercy Place; and Western Avenue and 135th Street.

Avondale Arizona Shuts Down Red Light Cameras

The Arizona Republic, David Madrid - Feb. 10, 2010

To save money, the city is terminating its contract with Scottsdale-based American Traffic Solutions, which operates traffic-enforcement cameras. The two intersections with red-light cameras are at Dysart Road and Van Buren Street and at Dysart and McDowell roads. The city uses a photo-speed-enforcement van throughout the city.

The cameras began snapping red-light runners in February 2006. In June 2007, the city began a speed-enforcement-van trial, which led to the van contract.In February 2009, the council approved expanding the program to include two more photo-red-light intersections. All four intersections were to be modified to enforce both red-light and speed violations. The project was to be completed in March.  That isn't happening.

The camera program was popular with the council, but it costs $425,000. That includes contractor fees, officer overtime, a traffic program coordinator and court staff. By ending the program, the net savings to the city is $106,390. The council has always maintained that the cameras weren't there to raise revenue but for safety.

Police Chief Kevin Kotsur said there has been a drop in traffic accidents, but he believes the bad economy means fewer people driving. And the costs of the program are rising every year.  "Looking at the stats, there's no significant correlation between the number of accidents and the impact photo enforcement has been having on those wrecks," he said. "It's down all over the city. It's down all over the state."

Redflex Fighting Release of Records to League City, Texas

League City, Texas — Access to detailed information about the effectiveness of the city’s red light camera program is being challenged by the RedFlex the company that operates the red light cameras in League City, Texas.  Citing copyright law, Redflex Traffic Systems, a Phoenix-based company, has appealed to the state attorney general The Daily News’ request for details about the program, including information about possible gaps in the cameras’ coverage.

The Daily News made a request Jan. 12 to the League City Police Department for the daily reports it received from Redflex of all red light camera citations issued from Oct. 1, 2009, through Jan. 9.  The Daily News requested the same information from League City’s government.  League City forwarded The Daily News’ request to Redflex. In a Feb. 2 letter, Redflex asked the Texas Attorney General’s Office to deny the request.

“The Requesting Party seeks confidential, proprietary and copyrighted information regarding Redflex and its business operations,” Redflex Associate General Counsel John M. Jacobs wrote. “As a result, such information is properly excepted under the laws of the State of Texas.” Attorneys for League City informed the attorney general’s office they would rely on Redflex’s decision because the city is unsure how to handle the request.  Joseph Larsen, a Houston-based attorney for the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said copyright and state law do not preclude anybody from viewing the records Redflex is seeking to protect.
“You’re entitled to inspect them even if you can’t get copies of the records,” he said. “This is just typical obstruction you see from cities and vendors into any inquiries about red light camera programs,” Larsen said.

Two city council members said they were concerned about the company’s response to the request.  “I have several concerns with the red light cameras that are being used in League City, and this is indeed one of them,” Councilman Mike Lee said.  “I personally believe that all information related to city property is a public record,” Councilman Mick Phalen said. “Unfortunately, Redflex Systems disagrees and has not released them.”  League City officials were waiting Tuesday for Redflex to provide them with additional records on the city’s red light camera program. “Redflex informed us that they would supply us with a report by this afternoon. To our knowledge we have not yet received a report from Redflex,” Public Information Officer Kristi Wyatt said.

Dayton Ohio Is Adding Speed Cameras

Dayton Business Journal, Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The city of Dayton, Ohio took the first step to levying fines against speeders by using red-light cameras spread across the city. Dayton City Commission on Wednesday heard a first reading of an ordinance that would add speed enforcement capabilities to cameras currently used to catch those running red lights at 10 high-traffic intersections. If approved, violators would face civil penalties and an $85 fine for each offense. Installation of speed monitoring software on some or all of Dayton’s traffic control cameras would be complete within 90 days. City officials say the move is intended to reduce speeding on city streets in order to make roadways safer for drivers and pedestrians.

A spokesperson said the city does not have an estimate of the revenue that would be generated by speeding tickets from the cameras. The city declined to release information about how much faster than the speed limit drivers could go before getting a ticket at the intersections.

The intersections affected include:

• Smithville Road at Patterson Road;

• Third Street at Edwin C. Moses Boulevard;

• Troy Street at Stanley Avenue;

• Third Street at James H. McGee Boulevard;

• Gettysburg Avenue at Cornell Drive.

• Main Street at Hillcrest Avenue;

• US 35 at Abbey Avenue;

• Salem Avenue at North Avenue; and

• Salem Avenue at Hillcrest Avenue.

Dayton’s first traffic control camera to detect vehicles running through red lights was installed in early 2003, and a total of 20 cameras at 10 intersections have been in use since mid-2005. Since the installation of the cameras, traffic accidents at camera-enforced intersections has declined by 44 percent, according to city officials. The cameras have generated nearly $1.4 million in fines. The traffic control cameras in Dayton are owned and operated by RedFlex Traffic Systems Inc., in cooperation with the Dayton Police Department.

E-mail [email protected] Call (937) 528-4424.

Illinois Legislation Proposing Trial by Phone

Daily Herald - Feb. 10, 2010

State Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican, introduced legislation Tuesday he said would address problems identified with photo enforcement of red-light laws. The solutions? New signs, repainting the cameras and prohibiting municipalities from shortening the yellow-light time.  We'd like to say this is a start toward reforming the kinds of wholesale mismanagement associated with red-light cameras, but come on. New signs? Prohibiting communities from programming nonstandard yellow-light times, a practice that ought to be unconscionable in any circumstance?  Millner also touted a provision of the legislation that would require a community's police to review every red-light infraction, something already required in existing law.

The law also would enable ticketed drivers to fight their cases by telephone, instead of traveling to court. There's something to look forward to, a half an hour or more waiting on hold for a bureaucrat to come on the phone and tell you you're wrong and you have to pay up anyway.

In a comprehensive 2009 report, the Daily Herald found serious flaws in the way red-light cameras are placed and infractions are enforced. The placement is usually based on volume at an intersection rather than on data involving accidents or safety, and the overwhelming proportion of tickets are written for rolling through right turns on red rather than the much-more dangerous practice of running straight through a red light.  Millner's proposal does nothing to address either of these situations. Indeed, he pointedly emphasized that he doesn't want to do anything to address the right-turn issue for fear it would send "a bad message" to motorists that an incomplete stop before a right turn on red is OK.  What the legislation doesn't seem to recognize is the "bad message" sent by current red-light enforcement that the law exists as a cash cow for local communities and does little to improve safety.

We greatly appreciate lawmakers' recognition of the problems associated with red-light camera enforcement. But they should be fashioning legislation that addresses the clearly identified problems:

• Locating cameras based on volume of traffic, rather than safety data;

• Concentrating tickets on minor right-turn infractions;

• Assessing high $100 civil fines that don't get reported on a driver's safety record;

• Letting the private camera companies maintain records, rather than local governments, whose actions are subject to public scrutiny;

• And, failure to focus attention on unsafe straight-through violations of red lights.

Repainting signals and writing new signs may have some value in helping motorists better understand the laws they are supposed to follow, but until these more-significant issues are addressed, red-light cameras will remain an unfair, inconsistent, ineffective and inappropriate means of enforcing red-light laws.

South San Francisco Refunds Cost City $1.4M

At least 3,000 drivers will get money back for red light tickets in South San Francisco, thanks to an error in finalizing the contract with the company that installed the cameras.   Officials in this San Francisco suburb say the city council neglected to ratify the contract with American Traffic Solutions Inc., which installed the cameras last summer. That means the city could not legally operate the automatic cameras.  The contract was finally ratified Jan. 27.

Mayor Mark Addiego says the city contacting motorists caught by the red light cameras between Aug. 15 and Jan. 27 to pay back the $446 fine or the cost of traffic school. Officials say the refund will cost the city at least $1.4 million, in addition to thousands in staff costs needed to help figure out whom to refund.

State of Florida Wants A Piece City Revenue

A cynic’s view of government holds that, “If it moves, tax it.” And if it moves right on red? Tax it uniformly across the state.

A bill introduced in the state Legislature would bring consistency to the mishmash of local red-light camera programs operating in Florida cities and counties. It would also bring millions of dollars to the state treasury.

Rep. Ron Reagan of Sarasota is the primary sponsor of House Bill 325, the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act. The bill would take the details of red-light camera use away from local jurisdictions and place them under state regulation. Cities and counties will decide for themselves whether to use the cameras and strike their own deals with vendors who provide them, but the amount of the fines will be set by the state, with the state receiving more than half the money generated.

Reagan says the purpose of the bill is not to raise money. It is named after a Sarasota resident killed by a red-light runner and Reagan said the goal is to enhance highway safety. “I don’t ignore the revenue side but I’m in it for safety first and foremost,” he said.

Using previous years’ volumes of red-light citations and assuming cameras will catch at least twice as many violators, he estimates the bill could mean an additional $80 million to $100 million to the state, adding, “I hope it’s zero.”

The fine for a red-light violation under the bill, which has a Senate companion version, would be $155. Of that, $75 would go to the local jurisdiction, $55 would go to the state general fund and $25 would go to the Health Administration Trust Fund, with biggest share of that set aside for trauma centers and emergency rooms.

Whatever local jurisdictions pay to private companies to supply, maintain and operate the systems would have to come out of their $75 cut.

The new arrangement would potentially boost Collier County’s receipts from its red-light camera program. First time violators here now pay a $62.50 fine, with the vendor, American Traffic Solutions of Arizona, getting $47.50 of that. But second- and third-time offenders pay fines of $75 and $100, with the county keeping a larger share. There’s no graduated fine schedule in the state law. Other places, like Orlando where the fine is $125, would stand to lose money.

While the question is not addressed in the bill as written, Reagan said language may be added to take on the most controversial aspect of the cameras -- the preponderance of tickets written to drivers turning right on red. “I’m working on that. I don’t have an answer yet,” he said.

One approach would be to follow the example set in Orlando, where they don’t issue tickets if a driver turns right on red at less than 5 mph and there are no pedestrians at the intersection. Another is to waive fines if drivers hesitate before turning right on red and a third is to ticket all drivers turning right unless they follow the letter of the law. The latter approach sends a signal that the program is about raising revenue, Reagan conceded. On the other hand, “We can’t tell people, ‘You can break the law.’”

When Reagan first introduced legislation governing red-light cameras in the state five years ago, only one city was using them. Now there are 64 cities and counties using cameras, making the case for uniform standards more compelling. “I have all the confidence in the world we’ll get this through,” he said.

Snitch Tickets

Don't tattle on a friend or a family member for driving your 

Red light camera tickets cost about $500 per ticket in California and a point on your license. Since the tickets add a point on your license, the police must obtain the name of the actual driver before they can file the ticket at court. Since the photo of the license plate will only lead to the registered owner ("RO"), and often he/she often was not the person driving the car. The police will go to great lengths to get registered owners to identify who was driving the car that was ticketed. Technicians reviewing the photos will check to see if the pictured driver is obviously not the registered owner (male / female mismatch, age difference, or a rental car). Sometimes the photo is too blurry to identify who it is and will send the registered owner an official-looking notice telling him that he must identify the driver. About 40 California police departments will mail out Snitch Tickets to fool the registered owner into identifying the actual driver of the car.

Snitch Tickets have not been filed with the court, so are recognizable because they don't say "Notice to Appear," don't have the court's address, and say (on the back, in small letters), "Do not contact the court." Since they have NOT been filed with the court, they have no legal weight. You can ignore a Snitch Ticket. Snitch Tickets are designed to look like a real ticket but are legally very different. Real tickets and Snitch Tickets both ask the registered owner to turn-in or identify the person who was driving the car. Despite all that, there are some differences that you can rely on. One of the best ways to identify a Snitch Ticket is the small print on the back of the page, "Do not contact the court about this notice." Snitch Tickets will also lack any wording directing you to contact or "Respond to" the court. In fact, on a typical Snitch Ticket there is no phone number for the court, and the court's address usually is missing or incomplete. (Please note, however, that in some towns the real tickets carry an incomplete address.

A real ticket will ask you to contact ("Respond to") the court and you should. If your ticket says this it's likely a real one and you should look it up on the court's website. If it's not on their site, it still could be real. Make sure you are looking on the court's website, not the website of the camera operator Redflex (PhotoNotice) or ATS's. Your ticket is real if you have received a Courtesy Notice and it asks you to contact the court. Please note that your ticket could be real even if the court's phone number is missing and its address is incomplete. This is often the case because some cities are leaving this information off their real tickets, to make it harder for defendants to fight their ticket in court.

LA May Add Speed Speed Cameras

Los Angeles might expand red-light camera program and add speed cameras. The plan would boost revenue, but city officials say it's safety-driven.

Published by LA Times By Rich Connell, February 3, 2010

Los Angeles' red-light traffic camera program, which officials report netted more than $6 million last year after expenses, could be significantly expanded under a new contract to be negotiated over the next 14 months, records and interviews show.

While adding more cameras could offer a welcome boost to city revenue in the midst of a fiscal crisis, officials say any expansion will be based on safety considerations.

No goal has been set, but internal City Hall discussions have included the possibility of adding cameras to blocks of eight intersections at a time and eventually doubling the overall reach of the program to 64 intersections, Los Angeles Police Department officials told The Times.

Fresh details of the discussions emerged as the Police Commission on Tuesday sent the City Council a recommendation to issue bid requests from vendors to operate -- and presumably enlarge -- the program starting next year.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for traffic cameras to be modified to also catch speeders, part of an effort to raise $300 million in fines to help close the state's budget shortfall. 

Los Angeles officials have voiced mixed reactions but taken no formal action on the proposal.

As for red-light cameras, critics contend that the safety benefits have been overstated and that the cameras chiefly are used to fatten government coffers. Those complaints have grown louder as red-light ticket fines have climbed sharply in recent years. They now total more than $500 in Los Angeles County when traffic school fees are included.

But LAPD officials and some experts say photo enforcement reduces potentially serious red-light-running accidents, changes driver behavior for the better and frees up patrol officers for other tasks.

And after struggling with construction delays and start-up and early operating expenses, Los Angeles' red-light cameras have begun producing a sorely needed revenue surplus at a time when city programs and payrolls are being slashed.

Beyond payments of about $2 million to the city's camera vendor and $1.2 million for Police Department costs, the city's 32 camera-equipped intersections generated $6.4 million in net revenue in 2009, said LAPD Sgt. Matthew MacWillie, who oversees the program. The LAPD issues about 3,600 photo enforcement tickets a month, records show.

The program's financial turnaround can be partially attributed to a decision 18 months ago to more than double fines for rolling right-turn violations, which MacWillie has acknowledged account for most violations caught by the cameras.

Previously, Los Angeles had been the only city in the county to charge right turn violations under a vehicle code section that carried a $156 fine. When the LAPD brought its ticketing practices in line with other agencies, right turn fines jumped to $381. The city's share of the fines grew from $58 to nearly $150.

At least one City Council member, Valley representative Dennis Zine, said pursuing bids to continue or expand the photo enforcement program is premature.

He said a detailed study of overall accident rates at photo-equipped intersections was still in the works. "I don't want to do anything until we get the results of that inquiry," he said.

Zine, a former LAPD traffic cop who sits on the council's Public Safety Committee, sought the analysis last year after a local television station reported that the city's red-light cameras haven't always reduced collisions. The LAPD's study is not expected to be completed for about a month.

But MacWillie said Tuesday that data show overall accidents, as well as red-light-running accidents, have declined at camera-equipped intersections.

Considered a key city expert on photo enforcement, MacWillie also said speed cameras can be a valuable traffic enforcement tool if properly focused on safety and altering driver behavior. Approximately 40 people die annually in speed-related accidents in the city, he said.

Zine said putting speed cameras at intersections is an "absurd idea" that would undermine the traditional focus of police officers on public safety.

The governor is "just saying this is a revenue producer," he said.

"With that in mind, why don't we just charge everyone $10 when they start their engine?"h