Monday, March 25, 2013

Stop AB666 – Intersection cameras are really about survelliance and MONEY

What does AB666 Do?

>Eliminates citizens rights to a trial if they get a red light camera ticket

>Makes the vehicle owner responsible for the ticket even when someone else is driving

>Sets up kangaroo “administrative hearing” courts run by those running the ticketing program

>Requires that no evidence other than the ticket itself is needed to convict the accused

>Makes the ticket itself prima facie evidence which forces the accused to prove their innocence rather than the current system of “innocent until proven guilty”.

>Eliminates the right to face your accuser

>Eliminates the right to discovery

>Requires defendants to pay a fee if they want their case heard in court

(but without the full protections they have now)

>Expands the use of photo enforcement to other traffic violations

Even if you never get a red-light camera ticket, you are getting ripped off. If you drive on the streets of Los Angeles, you are less safe than you could be otherwise. The City of Los Angeles’ Photo Red-Light Program is a waste of taxpayer dollars and reduces safety for motorists and pedestrians. Here’s why:


1. Engineering countermeasures are a much more effective and economical solution to reduce red-light related collisions.

Most red light running is unintentional and caused by yellow light times that are too short or other engineering deficiencies.

Yellow times in Los Angeles are currently based on the posted speed limit but should be based on the actual speed of traffic approaching the intersection. Lengthening the yellow signal to the proper time will reduce violations and collisions as much as 50% or more.

Lengthening the all-red phase prevents accidents by making sure the intersection is clear before cross traffic is released. Some major intersections in Los Angeles have all-red times less than ½ second, and need to be closer to 2 – 2.5 seconds.

The most severe accidents are caused by impairment, distraction and fatigue which the red-light cameras can’t prevent.

If the city improved the signal timing and fixed any other engineering deficiencies, accidents and violations would drop and there would be no need for photo enforcement. They are spending your money and giving out tens of thousands of tickets for no reason.

2. The cameras have not improved safety and may have made us less safe.

Contrary to LAPD claims, any improvement in accident statistics is a result of State mandated longer yellow times being implemented when the cameras were installed or a decrease in traffic volume.

At some intersections, red light related accidents disappeared long before the cameras were put in, but the LAPD claims the cameras caused the reduction in accidents.

Red-light cameras can’t reduce the most serious accidents because those are caused by impairment, distraction and fatigue and occur well after the light has turned red. Red-light cameras, if they have any effect at all, only have the possibility of affecting the relatively few drivers who try to “beat the light” and misjudge by a few tenths of a second. In these situations, a sufficient all-red phase will prevent collisions from occurring.

Rear end accidents have increased substantially at some intersections. At Sherman Way and Louise Ave., rear end collisions increased by as much as 90% after the cameras were installed.

3. The City loses over $1 million in taxpayer dollars on the program every year.

This is likely to get worse as cited drivers begin to realize that if they ignore their tickets they won’t be reported to the DMV.

Also, appeals courts in many counties have ruled red light camera evidence to be inadmissible hearsay. It’s only a matter of time before the appeals court in Los Angeles rules similarly.

4. The program is being subsidized by giving out tens of thousands of citations for rolling right turns which rarely cause accidents.

At some intersection approaches rolling-right-turn tickets make up as much as 97% of the citations.

Rolling right turns pose little danger and don’t warrant spending millions of dollars to prevent this behavior. The average number of rolling-right-turn collisions each year was 45 out of an average of approximately 56,000 collisions annually in the City of L.A., which represents just 0.079% of all accidents. About three times as many accidents are caused each year by drivers opening their car door into passing traffic.

The majority of rolling-right-turn collisions resulted in minimal or no injuries, even when pedestrians or bicyclists were involved. There were no fatalities noted due to rolling-right-turns between 2002 and 2009.

The chance that a rolling-right-turn will result in a collision is 0.00029%. This means that a driver would have to make over 345,345 rolling-right-turns before they might be involved in an accident. Drivers who make slow, cautious rolling-right-turns will likely never cause an accident.

5. The cost of the red-light cameras goes far beyond the $1 million of taxpayer dollars wasted every year.

The millions of dollars spent in unnecessary fines and higher insurance rates are unavailable to be spent on local goods and services to grow our economy. If you own a business in L.A., your customers have less money to spend because of the red-light camera program.

Needless ticketing clogs our courts and makes our justice system less available for necessary cases. The Los Angeles Superior Court, where these cases are adjudicated, is facing a backlog of almost a full year.

Unreasonable and unfair enforcement of traffic laws engenders disrespect towards our public officials and the police. Citizens are much more likely to see law enforcement as an adversary rather than an ally which makes it more difficult for the LAPD to obtain the public’s help with more serious crimes and safety matters.

At a time when the City of Los Angeles is slashing essential government services and laying off workers, the Photo Red-Light Program is an inexcusable waste of city and law enforcement resources.

Redflex Traffic Systems, one of the companies behind AB666, is no stranger to controversy. Recently, a slew of their top U.S. Executives (Redflex is an Australian company) were forced to resign over a widening bribery scandal that came to light when a whistle-blower letter by a company executive was sent to the Chicago Tribune disclosing that Redflex officials bribed a top city administrator. Redflex was banned from doing business in Chicago and a deeper investigation has revealed that the Chicago corruption was likely not an isolated incident. We’ve yet to see the full extent of this company’s dirty dealings, as there’s currently a federal criminal probe into the matter, but the corruption scandal isn’t surprising considering the deceitful way these companies have conducted themselves in the past. Red light companies have routinely curried favor with politicians by making huge campaign contributions in order to get legislation passed that is favorable to their interests.

It seems Redflex’s $2000 contribution to Bob Wieckowski’s 2012 assembly campaign was enough to convince the Assembly Member to do their bidding. Apparently it doesn’t take much to sell out the people you were elected to represent. We’re still checking to see if Wieckowski took any Reflex money while he was on the City Council in Fremont where Redflex has the contract for the city’s red light camera program. We’ll keep you posted.

By the way, just consider for a moment how bad you must be to get kicked out of Chicago for corruption.

As always, I highly recommend two great websites, and for those ticketed in California.

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