SOLANA BEACH — It’s been more than seven years since cameras were installed at two Solana Beach intersections prone to red-light violations, and according to a Sheriff’s Department report, they have been successful at improving safety.“These cameras are working,” Capt. Sherri Sarro said. “It’s not to say that they’re not increasing tickets because we still have violations that are occurring out there, but they are reducing collisions and that would contribute to saving lives and keeping injuries down.”Cameras were installed in November 2004 at Lomas Santa Fe Drive and Coast Highway 101 and at Lomas Santa Fe and Solana Hills Drive.
The areas were initially studied after the first 16 months in February 2006. The current report includes data collected from July 2009 to June 2011.
During those two years there were 4,075 violations, or an average of about 169 a month. That was down 32 percent from the 2006 report and almost 60 percent since 2004.
From 2009 to 2011 there were 358 crashes citywide, a 15 percent reduction since the 2006 report and an overall decrease of 40 percent since the cameras were installed.
At the monitored intersections there were 10 collisions during the 24-month review period. That is a 37 percent reduction from the 2006 report and 65 percent since the program began in 2004.
“Not only have the violations gone down consistently (but) the crashes have also gone down,” Deputy Greg McDonald, who presented the study, said. “It appears the red light cameras have reduced the number of collisions, not only at the monitored intersections, but throughout the city as well.”
Videos and still photos are recorded at each intersection.
“This is a very serious situation,” Mayor Joe Kellejian said after Sarro showed a video showing about a half dozen drivers running red lights at the monitored intersections.
“There’s no question in my mind it is a very worthwhile program,” Councilman Tom Campbell said.
City Manager David Ott said violators can review the recorded evidence once they receive notification of the violation. He also noted law enforcement issues the tickets, not the contractor that installed the cameras, which he said were put in place because of accidents at those intersections.
“It’s not just, let’s write a ticket and make some money for the city,” Ott said. “It’s a completely avoidable ticket.”
Sarro said officers will be cracking down this month on motorists using cell phones while driving.
“Cell phone (usage while driving) is one of the big contributors to violations and traffic accidents, and we hit that very hard in our coastal communities,” she said. “In the next month…we will be doing some extra added enforcement.”