Posted by member, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 10:43 am
Red Light cameras should not be used to generate revenue and there should be signs clearly posted to let drivers know there is a camera there. In Europe and the UK it is law that all red light and speed cameras have signs marking they are there and there needs to be signs warning they are there ahead of time as well, not just right at the camera site.
Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 10:58 am
Red light cameras are designed to fill the pockets of the company providing the equipment with money. The first step after installation is to shorten the yellow light time to two seconds. That's a guaranteed revenue generator.
Studies have shown that if the yellow light time is increased to five seconds red light running is virtually eliminated.
Posted by Honk at Red Light Runners, a resident of Mountain View, on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:02 am
There are places that need red light cameras, especially for left turners across El Camino! I got T-boned by a red light runner when I was already half way through an intersection on a green light. No witnesses... I almost got hit by a car running a red light when I was on a bicycle!
I'm starting a campaign. HONK at red light runners. Even if you are not first at the signal. Honk every time a car is still in the intersection when the light turns green.
If enough people honk, then maybe the runners will get the clue and stop endanering other drivers.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:02 am
Since we do not have enough police to monitor and ticket people, why do we then figure out a way to enforce the law, and then weaken it with this kind of BS law? And you know what ... who is it that is most likely to know this law and be able to exploit it ... the more affluent who of course still need to maintain there advantage over everyone else. If this is the best Smitian can do with "there ought to be a law" he should shelve the whole thing and maybe retire.
If there was some problem or abuses maybe then, or something is broken maybe it needs fixing, but I've never gotten an automated ticket ... BECAUSE I DON"T RUN RED LIGHTS!
Another step backwards just to give more exceptions to the wealthy is how I see it.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:09 am
> Even if you are not first at the signal. Honk every time a car is still in the intersection when the light turns green
Hey "honky? ... maybe a little information might education you.
First, it is not illegal to be in the intersection when the light turns green depending on where you are. The police can give you a ticket for it, but it is not specifically illegal. Some lights are timed such that the yellow phase is very short, so when I had to go to traffic school years ago the instructor told us this is a fuzzy area. He suggested that as long as one was past the center of the intersection that would be a reasonable way to determine if there was a problem.
Second, it is illegal to honk your horn, and especially to hank your horn or sit on it to "punish" or "scold" someone.
The problem is when someone enters the intersection when his light is already red.
Another situation that your idea would not address correctly is for example on University if you are wanting to make a left turn. Often in order to actually make your turn you have to sit in the middle of the intersection until the light actually turns red before you can move, which is technically illegal, but there is just no other way to ever make a left turn on a busy street like that because through traffic has the right or way.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:12 am
> The proposal to strengthen regulations of red-light cameras came from San Jose resident Vera Gil, who received numerous tickets from red-light cameras for a Southern California car that she doesn't own and has never driven, according to Simitian.
This is called incompetent legislation, let's make a law that solves a problem for one person ... what a waste of all of our money. this is pure pandering to the deadbeat element of the public. I am all for raising tax revenues as the only way to ever balance our budget fairly and equitably, but this kind of effort that takes up time and money from our state government is a total waste and adds to useless unequal complexity in the law.
Posted by akinbak, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:21 am
Any place that has a RLCs (Red Light Camera) should be required to have TGIC (Tailgater Identification Capability), so they can surely ticket those aggressive drivers who intimidate us with potential damage and injury to proceed when we really want to stop. It's a case of Darwin's Law vs Traffic Laws.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:33 am
I read a report sometime back about the dangers of red light cameras.
Many drivers will either increase speeds when the light turns yellow endangering pedestrians or right-on-red drivers. Others often slam on the brakes and endanger the safety of drivers around them (or behind them).
I was driving in Sunnyvale last year when a driver to the left of me slammed on his brakes. His windows were rolled down and he said, "Sorry, I didn't want to get a ticket from the camera." If the driver behind him wasn't so mindful, he would have slammed right into him.
I would prefer the notion of extending the length of time for yellow lights. Extending the yellow light by 2-4 extra seconds has been shown to decrease accidents. However, it doesn't give more "revenue" from drivers to local jurisdictions.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:49 am
from the article:
...specifically prohibits cameras to be used for raising revenues.. how is this determined?
I know there has been a lot of argument about redlight cameras in a variety of communities, with some believing they are safety-enhancement and valid law-enforcement tools, and others believing they are soley another route for bringing in lots of $$$ to government.
I know government is ever looking for more ways to get $$$ out of us.
Posted by need red lights, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm
I think this is a bad law. Red light running especially to turn left has become quite a problem. I bicycle to work each day and when I cross Oregon expressway at Cowper, there are red light runners every day. If I wait for everyone to come to a stop, I barely have time to cross unless I use the pedestrian button which keeps traffic stopped much longer than needed.
In Europe (especially England) the owner of the car is responsible, and the law assumes the owner knows who was driving their car if not them (hence snitch tickets). The idea that the license plate is not enough to ticket a red light runner is silly.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm
Before this can happen the rules should be explained better.
When crossing an intersection on yellow must you be able to cross completely before the light turns red?
What happens if you are turning left and oncoming traffic is preventing you from completing the turn?
What happens to cars who have entered an intersection when stopped traffic ahead prevents the car from completely crossing the intersection?
What happens to cars who are turning right and unable to cross due to heavy pedestrian traffic?
Too many loopholes exist.
Yes of course there are some drivers who gamble and speed through on yellow or red hoping not to stop. There are also drivers who should never have entered the intersection to begin with, but often if you are in heavy traffic (particularly on a left turn) unless you enter and wait for the light to change, you will never have an opportuning to cross the intersection in any green light sequence.
Posted by Jeff, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm
Companies hired to operate and maintain red lights or parking meters don't care if there is an error. They won't correct anything. They keep billing and ultimately you won't be able to renew your registration. The last sentence of the story says a similar issue got the senate bill started. If the city managed the red light cameras the revenue might not support the costs, so they hire someone who keeps the tickets flowing but doesn't address problems.
Posted by Henry, a resident of another community, on Aug 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm
This article says that the bill prohibits Snitch Tickets - that's simply not so. The closest that ever came to being true was in a 2010 version of this bill. The Snitch Ticket prohibition has never been in the current 2012 bill. Reporter Sheyner is not at fault on this, though. He got the bogus information from a press release Simitian published yesterday on his Senate website. That press release said, "Prohibiting so-called Snitch Tickets." Simitian's bill actually legitimizes the fake tickets. If anyone reading this doesn't know what a Snitch Ticket is, or how to recognize one, Google Snitch Ticket.
Posted by pedestrian, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm
Cars running red lights to turn right are one of the primary causes of car vs. pedestrian fatalities. Right turn on red should be banned whenever a pedestrian walk light is green or when there are pedestrians anywhere near a crosswalk.
Posted by Driver & Biker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm
Red light cameras were installed to make money. They don't make the streets safer for anyone. S.B. 1303 is a joke. Simitian sold out to Redflex and the other jokers who manufacture these devices. The bill solves nothing and eliminates a legitimate defense for those who were unjustly cited.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm
Good point! However, this wouldn't prevent "right on red" issues. Perhaps a combination of the two would work? A 2-3 second increase in yellow light time PLUS a 2 second pause for the other lights to turn green?
Posted by stretch, a resident of another community, on Aug 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm
I've been on El Camino Real and watched SIX cars run the left turn light at one time. This probably isn't even a record for that intersection. What would happen if the cars on ECR decided to actually go when the light turns green? Why, they'd get hit by the red light runners! Heaven forbid a pedestrian would be crossing with the light. What makes people think that it's okay to run a light? The rule doesn't apply to them, they're in a hurry? I'm all for anything that slows them down and makes them think twice, whether it's a red light camera or a live cop (ha!).
Posted by SteveU, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm SteveU is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
It is also easy to 'rig' the light to show RED in the photo.
All is needed is to Flicker the RED (1/60 of a second) while the shutter is open.
I wish the Law Made the Public safety department operate the Cameras, not some private firm that is 1) isolated from your wrath (no voter sanctions). 2) Gets a percentage of the fines and not a simple flat rate for operating the cameras (Of course they still would be tempted to find positives, so they get to keep their contract)
Posted by musical, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm
It's easier to Photoshop the picture than to rig the camera.
Regarding left-turners continuing well into the red, perhaps this behavior would be less prevalent if the signal cycle times were shorter. On Page Mill some lights can be over three minutes, which feels like twenty. I've found the wait to go faster when I use the time to do a Sudoku.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm
Turning left at the Middlefield/Loma Verde intersection is a prime example of not being able to turn left unless stopping in the middle of the intersection and waiting until the light changes to red before completing the turn. Since there is no left arrow there is often too much traffic and a car will never turn left unless they follow this move. Waiting at the line until no cars are coming only means that the light will turn right and the chance to turn has gone. How many light changes would it take to do this in busy traffic?
Of course, when a car does opt for this move, they have to be aware of pedestrians about to cross with the light.
Sometimes rules just have no common sense attached to them.
Posted by Donald, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 9:33 pm
Most of the red light running that people think about in this area has to do with entering an intersection late or turning right without stopping. I agree that those are both dangerous behaviors and should be stopped, but I have seen far worse in other parts of the country. I recently returned from a trip to the Great Lakes region and saw multiple instances of drivers stopping at a red light, looking around, then proceeding straight or turning left!!! I asked the locals, and that is commone practice. Some of the younger drivers even thought the left turn was legal because they have seen it so often. If we don't have more enforcement we will see that behavior in our area, and there aren't enough human cops to ensure that this won't happen.
Posted by JM, a resident of the Evergreen Park neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2012 at 1:08 am
At the El Camino/Embarcadero intersection t I am always amazed that well after my light has turned green the intersection is blocked by cars running the red light left turn onto Embarcadero. Also at the left turn from El Camino onto Page Mill/Oregon expressway.
I am surprised at the sympathy being extended to people running a red light. Why isn't everyone outraged at red light runners? I can think of few things more dangerous to other drivers, bikers, and pedestrians, than someone speeding through a red light. And anyone deliberately running a light well after it turns red is always accelerating to get through as fast as possible. And particularly dangerous after dark. Running red lights is a terrible habit.
Posted by Mister Right, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2012 at 7:00 am
All of you that got caught running the RED LIGHT stop CRYING! If you see a yellow light you should slow down and prepare to stop. Not coast or speed up. Everyone talks about big brother giving tickets through the red light camera system, but no one talks about the drivers who think twice about speeding up on the yellow potentially injuring or killing the other driver or pedestrian. Next time you run a red light because you tried to "Beat the light" just pay the ticket and be glad you were not hurt....STOP CRYING!
Posted by paloaltotreewatch, a resident of the Palo Alto Orchards neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2012 at 8:34 am
Restrictions of robocop activities (which red light cameras are) is essential in our society where technology will get to the point that each and every one of us could be stopped at any time for small infractions.
In addition the previous House Majority Dick Armey said about red light cameras: they are fundamentally unconstitutional as a central tenant of democratic/republic society is the right to confront your accuser. There is no ability to confront a robot/machine/CPU. How to tell if radar was calibrated correctly, how to tell that the picture taken corresponds to correct purported event.
The supposed good of these robocop activities is far outweighed by their infringement of our essential liberties.
While we are at it, get rid of helmet laws or at least allow consenting adults to sign a waiver that no state funds are spent on them if they have an accident w/o helmet. No nanny state. Tear down the wall.
Posted by Effective, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Aug 29, 2012 at 8:49 am
I got a RLC ticket as I was driving home, off Dumbarton Bridge and the fine was $400. Every time I see RLC sign, I don't try to run a yellow.
Drivers repeatedly run red lights on Embarcadero Rd. and Oregon Expressway. We don't have the rescources for law enforcement to watch continually. It's high time for RLCs in Palo Alto. Those who complain are the RL runners.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2012 at 9:17 am
Here is the relevant dmv information about turns at lights. Web Link
Unfortunately, this assumes that there will be a time in a green sequence to turn before the light changes back to red. Often in heavy traffic, this is not the case. To turn left one needs to have a break in the traffic and to turn right one must wait until all pedestrians have crossed. In many cases in heavy traffic the light will have changed back to red before this can be done. By the time the light goes back to green the same scenario can occur again. The only way to prevent this and to allow cars to turn is to have dedicated green arrows or to allow cars to wait to turn in the correct road position beyond the stop line and allow them to wait until the light changes to red. The light should be so timed that the the green light for crossing traffic does not appear until such time as waiting turn traffic can cross safely.
Just because something is the rule, it does not mean that it is the right way to handle the situation. If we can't stop beyond the stop line to wait for a suitable time to turn, then we will be unable to turn without getting a ticket. Does this sound sensible?
If we are going to tighten up the rules, then we need to look realistically at how to make the rules work safely.
Posted by Jake, a resident of another community, on Aug 29, 2012 at 9:46 am
How about using the cameras to take photo of vehicle, license plate obviously and then print the offenders name with photo in press? Or have a webiste that does the same. They do it in some areas for those who get caught using prostitutes. Shame them hopefully into not doing it. The funds collected from the red light runners could pay media costs and remaining funds could be used to pay medical costs for those injured in red light running accidents if victim is unable to collect from offender.
They could even have a special section for America's Top Red Light Runners.
I'm sick and tired of seeing other people drive their vehicles like they are the most important person in the world and them risking everyone elses lives simply because their ego is greater than their common sense.
Posted by Jane, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Aug 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm
These cameras and the people who monitor them make mistakes ALL THE TIME. Many of these tickets are going to people making right turns safely, not people barreling straight through intersections. And I'm told that the fines are ridiculously high. This is a money-making scheme hatched by the camera people and the cities that contract with them. We should get rid of red light cameras altogether.
Simitian's bill actually supports the current system. See highwayrobbery.net.
I know that state and local finances are in a mess, but surely our cities can find a better way to make money. The state should increase income taxes for the wealthy and stop taking money from our cities.
Posted by some guy, a resident of another community, on Aug 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm
This is not an issue for me because I don't run red lights, even while making a right turn. Most drivers do run the red while making a right turn. I think it's lame to complain about being caught for that. Everyone knows that red means stop. People don't seem to realize that it's a liability issue. If something goes wrong and you're the one running the red, you pay for everything.
Posted by Alice, a resident of Mountain View, on Aug 30, 2012 at 10:28 am
Ed, a lot of us know people who have been hurt or even killed by reckless (often drunken) drivers. I'm all for throwing the book at those people. But this SB 1303 doesn't help. AB 2128, which would have lengthened yellow lights, died in committee. I hope Jerry Brown vetoes SB 1303.
I went to college in Palo Alto a number of years ago. At that time the Palo Alto police were well known for giving out bogus tickets for speeding, not coming to complete stops, etc. Residents complained that the ticket-happy cops were so busy trying to make their quota of traffic tickets that they weren't available to prevent burglaries and other serious crimes. (And anyone who has ever had to go to traffic court knows what a rigged system that is--particularly for the indigent.)
Palo Alto residents, have your artificially low speed limits and ticket-happy cops made your streets any safer?
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm
It seems to me that they ought to reduce the cost of these tickets, and they ought to photograph. or video enough of the moment so that an average person without any particular bias or chip on their shoulder would be able to say ... yes, this is running the red light and the driver deserves a fine. If we cannot do that, then they have no business rolling out this technology until they can or until the expense of the system allows them to make money on the deal. I was surprised to hear that the fine was $400 ... that seems like a lot. no wonder people turn against this system.
This should be less biases than a police officer.
And yes, I would have to say that many of the tickets I have gotten in my life have been what I think is bogus.
My first ticket as a kid was for speeding coming home from Foothill College, but I was really surprised when my second ticket was for not coming to a complete stop when I got lost in Benecia driving up there for a job interview. I was taught well and I always come to a complete stop, you now it when you sink back into the seat. And several others ... I would rather have it automated that on the whim of the police officer and what mood he is in or how he reacts to me personally.
Posted by Cynthia, a resident of another community, on Sep 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm
Someone just told me about this discussion. Though a bit late, I want to put in my two cents.
During my 30 or so years of driving, I have received two tickets--both for offenses I had not committed and in cities where predatory police were known to issue a great number of tickets (many without just cause). The first ticket was issued in Palo Alto.
At the time I was an undergraduate scholarship student at Stanford. I did not have the funds to live on campus. I had two jobs and commuted from the South Bay. The Stanford parking sticker affixed to my car's bumper entitled me to park in Stanford's hinterlands and hike to the center of campus.
When I was at Stanford, the Palo Alto police had a justifiably bad rep. Because of this, I always slowed to a crawl when I entered Palo Alto city limits and stopped at every intersection. I allowed myself enough time to arrive at my destinations on time--if not early.
Despite taking these precautions, I was cited by a Palo Alto cop one morning for allegedly not stopping at a stop sign. I HAD stopped at that intersection--even though the stop sign was totally enveloped by a tree. There were no pedestrians or cyclists crossing the street at the time. The policeman yelled at me, wouldn't listen to me at all, and brought me to tears. He took so long to write his ticket that I could not get back to the scene of the "crime" in time to round up any witnesses.
So what happened? The corrupt policeman won because, with my lack of funds and multiple commitments, I was not able to go to court within the required time to contest the ticket. Having to pay a fine I could not afford for an offense I did not commit left an indelible impression on me.
When I received a ticket many years later in a different locality for allegedly driving a few miles over the posted speed limit, I went to traffic court. What an experience that was! I had no idea how much time, effort, and money it would entail to overcome a thoroughly rotten system and win my case.
Although I have not received a red-light camera ticket myself, I do know people who have. A few were guilty. A few did stop, but were cited anyway. One was cited when he wasn't even driving the vehicle. I have seen copies of "snitch tickets" and some very poor quality photos/video taken by red-light cameras. Do I trust these cameras and believe that any of them were installed solely to promote safety? Absolutely not! And the nearly $500 fine ($480-486 in my neighborhood) is outrageous.
Fighting a traffic ticket in the Bay Area is a time-consuming uphill battle--even when you are in the right and have witnesses and evidence on your side. Too few people make the effort. With no jury and complacent judges who are predisposed to believe the police, defendants usually lose. When they do win, it is often because of "technicalities."
The Simitian bill does not bring meaningful reform and eliminates an important defense/"technicality" before the State Supreme Court has even had a chance to review the matter. IT SHOULD BE VETOED!
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm
I was driving on San Juan and Greenback , take right on Greenback ,car line not ended ,lights changed to reed. yelow was about 2 seconds i have neurologic bladder, not fully emted ,when over full can pop , when I take left I has 12m/h .My chose ,pop my bladder or passed carefully.do they have code, have mane cars need passed and have mane cars need left in traffic line from same direction?It is a criminal in law ,some body can stop them or no?They make problem for people like stress they, do this for make money .When car stop and start loose time and make traffic bigger.
Posted by some guy, a resident of another community, on Sep 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm
Running the red is like running the stop sign, which most people do these days. It's monkey see, monkey do, like most things in life. You see someone else doing it, so you do the same. Having a mind of your own is extremely rare. Most people are nothing more than bipedal chimps.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm
Yeah, maybe the point is a chimp could see the reason for red-light cameras - they do not lie or beat people up or even block traffic as can happen in other traffic incidents, so, just get them working in a fair way, and ignore the whining of people who have rightfully gotten tagged by them, and those who have unrightfully gotten tagged from cameras (as I did once on the Dumbarton) you have my sympathies, but change comes when people fight and prove their cases.
Posted by Jean, a resident of another community, on Sep 24, 2012 at 9:37 am
If you received a ticket you didn't deserve and didn't go on to fight it, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Because such a small percentage of people take the time to fight these citations, the California Traffic Courts are completely dysfunctional. It is nearly impossible for defendants to receive a fair shake.
Since their problems are severe and widespread, California Traffic Courts should be shut down and re-evaluated. Defendants accused of major offenses can be tried in other courts.