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Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

Our View: Intersection cameras at a crossroad

Posted: August 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

With the recent news that those in Los Angeles County caught by red-light camera aren’t legally required to appear in court or pay their infraction fines, it’s painfully obvious that the system, though beneficial, is flawed.

Since they first came on the scene some years ago, red-light cameras have spurred much ire, as well as some praise, from drivers and public-safety officials alike.

Statistical information by the city and Sheriff’s Department in the SCV alone shows that there has been an impact made at key intersections by reducing the number of crashes caused by motorists running red lights.

Though there are only seven intersections in the city equipped with the cameras, there were 5,793 tickets issued last year alone, and each of those drivers is going to think twice about running another red light.

And red-light-related collisions are down 71 percent, broadside collisions are down 64 percent and injury collisions decreased 19 percent.

But there are legal difficulties in charging a motorist with a moving violation when it can’t be proven who was driving the car at the time of the violation. There isn’t an officer present to have a driver sign a citation to acknowledge the violation, so it’s generally just assumed that the registered owner of the car was the driver, and that person is mailed the citation.

This loophole can be closed if we simply concede that a car cited by one of the automated-camera systems should be under the same type of penalty as a parking ticket.

Regardless of who parked the car in a fire lane or left it too long in a temporary spot, the registered owner of the car is responsible for paying the fine.

If it were simply rebranded as a lesser infraction instead of a moving violation, much of the confusion could be removed from the system — and most people would be inclined to pay the ticket.

Red-light cameras are a useful and beneficial program by making our local streets safer. But an adjustment in the system is needed.

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