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Bob Kellar: Red light enforcement decreases dangerous driving

Live from City Hall

Posted: August 6, 2009 4:57 p.m.
Updated: August 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
There are countless things that can keep drivers distracted on the road and cause unnecessary accidents, injuries and even death.

Drivers who do not give their full attention to the road risk receiving traffic citations for violations, as well as the lives of others due to their negligence.

One of the most dangerous traffic infractions are red light violations.

In addition to warranting citations that cost a hefty $436 at certain intersections in our city, running a red light jeopardizes the safety and lives of others travelling on the road.

To help prevent these red light violations and enforce safe driving practices to protect community members, the city of Santa Clarita implemented the Red Light Photo Enforcement Program.

The Santa Clarita City Council approved the program in November 2003. Currently, 11 approaches at eight of the city's most heavily used intersections are equipped with the photo enforcement equipment.

Phase I of the Red Light Photo Enforcement Program began in July 2004 and included red light camera installations at five intersections: Whites Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road; Bouquet Canyon Road and Seco Canyon Road; Lyons Avenue and Orchard Village Road; McBean Parkway and Magic Mountain Parkway; and McBean Parkway and Newhall Ranch Road.

Phase II began in August 2006 and saw red light camera installations at McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard; Bouquet Canyon Road and Newhall Ranch Road; and Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway.

Funded solely through revenue obtained via the collection of traffic violation fines captured by red light cameras, the Red Light Photo Enforcement Program pays for itself.

This revenue is used exclusively to maintain the program, from operation to data communication and repairs of detection loops and signal equipment.

Although the program was proven to be cost-effective, the city wanted to determine the effectiveness of the program's effect on reducing collisions.

City staff conducted a long-term study and compared three years of collision data collected at the affected intersections before the cameras were installed to collision data collected after cameras were put in place.

The study found the Photo Enforcement Program to be highly effective at reducing collisions and injuries at intersections equipped with red light cameras.

According to information gathered by the survey, collisions directly related to red light violations decreased 61 percent, broadside collisions decreased 51 percent and injury collisions decreased 6 percent per affected intersection.

The number of traffic citations issued at affected intersections also declined to well below the level recorded before the program began.

This data serves as a strong indication that the Red Light Photo Enforcement Program is actively changing people's behavior behind the wheel and encouraging drivers to practice more caution while travelling on city streets.

By reducing the number collisions and traffic citations issued at intersections equipped with red light cameras, the cost-effective program has helped to deter dangerous driving habits on the road and provides the city with yet another tool to improve traffic, as well as community and pedestrian safety.

Through the combined efforts of the Photo Enforcement Program, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station's deputies and conscientious drivers, Santa Clarita's roads can continue on their way to becoming some of the safest streets to drive.

For additional information, please contact the city's Traffic Engineering division at (661) 255-4942.

Bob Kellar is a Santa Clarita City Councilwoman. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. Live from City Hall" runs Fridays in The Signal and is provided by the city of Santa Clarita.

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