Los Angeles City Council revives red light cameras

Traffic camera in Culver City, CA
Traffic camera in Culver City, CA
Steve Lyon/Flickr

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The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday revived the possibility that L.A. will continue to use red light cameras at city intersections.

The City Council referred the issue to its Budget and Finance Committee. That gesture helps red light camera supporters.

The chairman of that committee is Bernard Parks, who believes red light cameras save lives. “Colleagues, I’d hope we would not put a price on life. We lose, how many, 200 people in traffic accidents a year. That’s what we are talking about – traffic safety.”

Los Angeles police want to continue using cameras to capture red light runners at 32 intersections. Police note a 62 percent drop in red light collisions at those intersections.

But critics say that other factors account for increased safety. They complain that cameras mostly catch people who make right turns without completely stopping – and slap them with $400 fines.

The Police Commission has concluded that there is no evidence that the cameras improve safety, and that the city has not realized the larger revenue it expected.

Councilman Dennis Zine notes that judges in L.A. refuse to enforce camera-issued tickets, so in essence, the fine is voluntary. “If you don’t have teeth in the law, why have the law? People obey the law because there are consequences. Otherwise, there would be anarchy.”

The City Council has until the end of next month to decide whether to continue the use of red light cameras.