Since the police can't be present all the time, many cities in
California have set up red light cameras to monitor intersections 24-7.
In fact, California is kind of a pioneer in this regard. Oxnard set up
red light cameras in 1996, and was one of the first cities in the
nation to do so. The authority to set up red light cameras is enshrined
in the state Vehicle Code, section 21455.5. The Vehicle Code does state
that the city installing the cameras has to set up signs to warn
drivers that the cameras are there, so if you are alert, you should be
able to avoid being caught unawares.
If a camera does catch a vehicle running a red light, a citation is
mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. If that's you, you’ll
have to pay a fine. You are allowed to see the photographs if you don't
think you actually ran a red light. Some jurisdictions use a
combination of photos and video cameras, and you can actually go online
with the citation number and pull up a video of your car running the
red light. If you weren't the one driving, you have two options: pay
the fine and have a conviction go on your record for something you
didn't do, or tell the police who was driving that day and they'll send
the ticket to them instead.
Although some people feel that red light cameras are an invasion of
privacy, they have been in use for over a decade now. How well do
California intersection cameras work? A report prepared by the
California state auditor examined accident data from 1995 to 2001, and
concluded that California red light cameras did appear to be improving
traffic safety. For example, the report found that the average number
of accidents related to red light running each month fell 10 percent in
municipalities that used red light cameras as compared to those that
did not. Opponents of California intersection cameras often accuse
local governments of being "in it for the money." However, the report
showed that only 2 cities, San Diego and Oxnard, actually turned a
profit using California red light cameras. Like or not, California red
light cameras are here to stay. Approach that next intersection with
caution-you may be under surveillance!
Dangers of Running Red Lights
Running a California red light is not smart. If you have a red
light, then oncoming traffic has a green light, which means that they
are not expecting you to be in the intersection. By running a
California red light, you are almost asking to either hit someone or to
be hit yourself. For example, according to statistics from the National
Highway Safety Traffic Administration, in 2005 approximately 45% of all
car crashes happened at an intersection. Also in 2005, 805 people
nationwide died as a result of someone running a red light. Remember,
intersections are inherently dangerous places, and California red
lights are there for your protection. Getting in accident will delay
you for a lot longer than stopping for a red light could possibly do.
In fact, if the accident is bad enough, you may find yourself on a
detour to the city morgue…not a happy thought! Read more...
Number of California Red Light Tickets Issued
In recent years, California has made a point of trying to curb red
light running. Red lights may be enforced either by increased police
patrols or by red light cameras. The Office of Traffic Safety issues
Police Traffic Safety grants to help local police departments focus on
California red light running prevention through increased education and
enforcement. Read more...
Red Light Camera Locations
Find a red light camera in your area. Read more...
What Are Traffic Lights?
Traffic lights are traffic control devices placed at intersections.
They use a standard color-coded light system to tell drivers when it is
safe and legal for them to proceed through the intersection. California
red lights keep drivers safe by reducing the likelihood that two
vehicles will try to go through the intersection at the same time. They
also improve the flow of traffic and help keep pedestrians safe by
providing them a safe interval in which to cross the road. Read more...
What To Do If You Ran a Red light
In California, suggested fines are set at the state level and can be
found in the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedules. For running a red
light, the base fine is set at $100. However, one of the eccentricities
of California law is that the extra penalties assessed by the state
often double or triple the amount of the base fine. So, even though the
fine itself is only a hundred dollars, after all the penalties get
tacked on to your bill, you're looking at an amount due of $350! Of
course, the local court may have additional court costs for you to pay
as well. Read