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Better Ask Barry

Better Ask Barry: Why is Salinas installing red light cameras?

Cameras to detect red light violations will be fully operational in about five weeks or so.

A KION viewer thinks they’re a bad idea. He sent us an email asking why the city is wasting taxpayer money on them, and calling it a “stupid technology that’s been outlawed” in other states.

“The attorneys are just going to town with these things,” said Wendell Coval, “and they win them.”

It has been a bumpy road for the technology.

Red light camera systems have been challenged in court and 8 states have banned them outright.

Texas banned them this year, saying violators had the right to confront their accuser – a person – in court.

Drivers seem split over the need for a red light camera system.

The city of Salinas has placed cameras in four high traffic locations, in hope of reducing red light violations and accidents.

“We can’t be everywhere at once, so those intersections are going to be monitored 24/7,” said Robert Hampson, Salinas Police traffic sergeant.

The cameras detect any car that enters an intersection on “red.” Both video and still pictures are taken of the car, driver and license plate.

A third party, Verra Mobility, reviews the footage and sends potential violations to the city for verification.

“It gets sent electronically to the police department, where a sworn officer reviews all of the materials and makes the final determination if it’s going to be a violation or not,” said Hampson.

Nationwide, the use of red light cameras has declined since its peak in 2012.

Several bay area cities, including Belmont, Cupertino, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos and San Mateo, have stopped using them, citing difficulty in identifying “who” was actually behind the wheel.

The results on traffic safety can vary widely.

In a 2014 study by the Chicago Tribune, side impact crashes dropped 15 percent, while rear-end accidents went up 22 percent.

Salinas Police say Verra Mobility offered the cameras at no cost to the city, in exchange for a portion of ticket revenue. The program will be reevaluated in about a year.

The cameras will undergo a 30-day testing period in November, when violators will get warnings, not tickets.

The system goes ‘live’ in December.

KION 2019

Monterey County / News / Salinas / Top Stories

KION546 News Team


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