There are 2 things about the red light program in Santa Ana that confirm what the critics of these programs, yours truly included, have been saying all along, it’s about revenue and not public safety. Santa Ana moved these cameras around at will, redeploying cameras in intersections that were not generating sufficient revenue to new locations.
Secondly, they cut the yellow light timing down to 4 seconds from the state law mandated 4.4 seconds and issued tickets for cars that were in the intersection .5 seconds after going red. This is important because decreasing yellow light timing is proven to increase accident rates and a car in the intersection after the yellow turned red could potentially be ticketed even though they were not technically in violation of the law, unless they were going well beyond the speed limit which would give the the speed necessary to cross the distance of the intersection before the 1/2 second past red time elapsed.
A California judge last week began throwing out red light camera citations issued in Santa Ana. Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Kenneth Schwartz declared the city’s program void because it had ignored several provisions of state law. Local attorneys Mark D. Sutherland and R. Allen Baylis had challenged the city for its failure to provide the required thirty-day warning period before beginning the program and its use of a prohibited per-ticket “cost neutral” compensation scheme.
Fortunately the judge in this case is doing the right thing, declaring each ticket not guilty (which prevents the city from re-filing the citation) and holding the city accountable for their willful violation of state law regarding red light cameras.
Attorney Baylis sums up public sentiment toward these camera programs by saying:
“As a matter of public policy, I think the public is not in favor of this use of technology,” Baylis said. “I think at some point people are going to become tired of the government intrusion in their lives.”