After speaking to various citizens of Encinitas it is difficult to find those who have not personally, known someone or have heard of an individual who hasn’t received a red light camera ticket.
The initial premise involving their installation that the then-city council, sold to the public, was that the cameras would “significantly” reduce red light running, mid-intersection collisions. Words associated with significantly include “convincingly,” “compellingly,” “momentously,” and “substantially.”
Since their introduction this assumption has certainly not proven to be the fact, with only a negligible decrease in the number of total collisions. This includes red light running associated with rear end accidents encompassing the years before and those after initiation.
The most recent city “bar graph” statistics covering the years 2000-11 reveal the following:
At the two intersections studied one camera being installed in mid June 2004 which has five flash angles and the other is mid-November 2005 which has only one flash angle, there have been a combined total of 17 less overall collisions (97 before to 80 after) and a joined overall three less red light running-rear end impacts of this number (20 before to 17 after.) In review of the original argument for installation this is clearly not a very “significant” total.
The narration originally professed to the unwary public was that after their introduction the cameras’ impact on collision reduction would be fully deliberated and if proved not to be extremely beneficial would come up for an elimination vote.
Despite the fact that during the initial two years before and two years after review the total mid-intersection collisions only decreased by nine (40 before to three after) and red light running rear end accidents only went down by four (nine before to five after) after installation the Redflex Camera Company contract was renewed and has again been since.
Now let’s contemplate why they remain in place. In reviewing the customer management report for Encinitas detailing red light camera facts dated May 1, 2011 to May 15, 2012 and speaking to the Sheriff Dept. Code Enforcement officer the following is disclosed.”
The total number of red light running citations issued was 2,533. The cost of each ticket ranges from $480 to $535 depending upon a wish to go to traffic school and most do. With add-ons to include a court appearance contesting the citation, traffic school attendance so the violation doesn’t add to ones insurance, a previous ticket add on and finally a payment plan the cost could escalate to well over $700.
The total revenue generated, if all is collected, ranges from $1,215,000 to $1,355,000 when rounded depending upon what is finally collected. The camera company gets a fixed rate of $210,000 yearly for maintenance and the sheriff department take is $35,000 for administration.
With the state court system reaping 78 percent of the remainder or $757,000 to $865,000 the city of Encinitas then gets 22 percent or $213,000 to $244,000 for it’s share which amounts to $84 to $96 a ticket. Not a bad take for allowing others to do all of the work.
The money collected goes into the cities general fund to be distributed wherever. One council member has stated that he was all for the cameras as long as they didn’t cost the city anything.
At times good intentions can be hijacked by greed. This certainly appears to be the fact, as the cameras have become a “cash cow.”
A consequence associated with the camera installation has been the development of rear end collisions as motorists jam on their brakes so as not to be flashed in the limited time allowed between the yellow caution and red light in traveling through the intersection.
The driver behind may then be liable for being at fault, various injuries associated, repairs and insurance increase among other consequences.
Perhaps Encinitas should stop turning a blind eye to original intent in following the lead of many other cities, which have either chosen not to install red light cameras and/or decided to remove them. This would eliminate the high cost public gouging criminal extortion, which continues under the bogus guise of safety. We all know extortion is illegal.
George D. Hejduk is a Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident