Thursday, January 22, 2009

Red Light Cams Are Money Makers

In the Dec 22nd edition of the Daily Post (Nor Cal, Bay Area, Peninsula based paper) they put out some numbers that seemed pretty interesting about those traffic light cameras that are popping up all over the place here.

In San Mateo County, they're raking in $50k a month from those things. That's from only 3 of them.

The camera are managed by an Australian company called Redflex and each intersection with cameras cost $6k per month to maintain. In other intersections, these cams are taking just under 500 pics a month. At just under $400 a ticket, that's a nice profit if you twiddle with the math.

Menlo Park slapped 3 cameras in and received over $35k in fines in 5 1/2 months since their installations.

There's a quirky catch though.

Some say the cameras aren't fair. I don't know how that is. If you run the light, you get an Effing ticket. Seems fair to me. In fact, to help make it fair, quit gunning it from 1/4 block back when the light turns yellow. Oh! There's a thought. But I guess you're in too much of a rush, for some unnamed reason that even you can't come up with, huh driver?

In Menlo Park I watched when they installed these intersection cameras. There was definitely a ramp up time. At first they would go off when no one was in the intersection. Then I'd noticed that they were going off even when people are not breaking the law. (It's easy to figure it out when you're sitting on your bicycle at 6:00 AM in the morning and there's only 2 cars at the intersection.) Heck it went off once when I was alone on my bicycle!

I myself got my picture taken in my vehicle and I wasn't doing anything wrong. I got my left turn arrow, heading S on El Camino Real, turning left onto Ravenswood. Light (arrow) turned green and as I started to go, I got the camera flash. Hmm.

A few days later I called the Menlo Park PD to inquire about the accuracy of the things. It seems they're taking so many pictures that they hired an extra staff member to review the associated video tape what is taken with the picture snapping to make sure they're good pics.

The reason I called was there was an article in the paper on how one man had spent over 15 hours fighting a red light cam that was wrong. The system itself seems stacked in making it a challenge to fight the electronic photographers.

In Ca, if you fight a traffic ticket, you forfeit your right to attend traffic school. Basically, CA will get money from you one way or the other. Either in the ticket, or in the traffic school. If not, you spend near equivalent in your time. But that is still better than paying for it in your auto insurance.

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Hi - sorry for the confirmation but I need to weed out the noise from the well intended comments. Thanks for leaving a note... - Bruce