Fines from red-light cameras are a pain. But in California, they really hurt—to the tune of $480.
In a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, residents vented their frustration over the technology, which happens to rake in about $130 million annually for the state and various cities. Meanwhile, intersection accidents have decreased 40 percent since many of the cameras were installed in 2000.
By far, California hands out the most expensive red-light camera tickets in the world, and a group of citizens is hoping to change the system.
The Red Light Camera Protest Group is calling for the elimination of red-light cameras and a reduction in the fine. If not, they say they’ll accept the duration of yellow lights, giving drivers more time to safely get through an intersection or turn right on red. (After all, a recent study in South San Francisco found that 98 percent of its tickets at one red-light camera were for rolling right turns.)
Not surprisingly, police and city officials maintain that red-light cameras make intersections safer for both drivers and pedestrians—even in right-turn-on-red situations.
Even citizens seem to be divided on the issue, the Chronicle reports:
Halfway down the block on 27th from the light, Phuong Nguyen works at MP Flowers and sees the camera light flicker all day. She shook her fist in its direction.
"Three members of my family got tickets at that light in the past month while driving to work," she said. "Lot of money for the government, not such a good idea for the rest of us."
Jessica Lubnieski, 27, lives a few blocks north of the light, though, and says she is grateful for it.
"I walk my dog this route all the time, and people go flying through that light when they turn," she said as she strolled by the intersection with Cooper, her mutt. "They so often don't even see us. I just have to think that camera makes people more careful."
It's a touchy subject. But maybe as technology advances--and these cameras become more adept at detecting vehicular crime--people will become more accepting of them.
In the meantime, consider the numbers:
$480 Current fine for violating a red light in California.
$80 million Paid annually to state.
$50 million Fines paid annually to cities and counties.
$4.2 million Amount generated in 2010 by one camera near the on-ramp to Interstate 980 at 27th Street and Northgate Avenue in Oakland.