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January 28, 2011 > Letter to the editor: Red Light Cameras

Letter to the editor: Red Light Cameras

Newark, Calif., a city in the San Francisco Bay Area (population 44,000), employs yellow light intervals 7/10's of a second in excess of the required minimum times set forth in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Each of the Newark's 5 red light cameras are mounted on 35 mph approaches to intersections and each yellow light is set for 4.3 seconds; only 3.6 seconds is required.

As a result there were only 575 camera activations for motorists going straight through on a red light during a recent 12-month period. The cameras also filmed a mere 549 instances of motorists turning left after the light turned red. Newark employs 4.3 seconds for the left turn yellow lights at 4 of 5 intersections even though only 3.0 seconds is required. The fifth left turn yellow light is set for 3.6 seconds.

During the same 12-month period the remaining 9,652 (89.6%) camera activations were for motorists turning right on red. Overall, roughly two-thirds of camera activations result in a citation being issued. Those not ticketed are because of unclear photographs, emergency vehicles, among other exceptions.

The neighboring city of Fremont (population 218,000) adds no more than 1/10 second to their yellow light times at each of their 10 camera locations and as a result over 11,000 motorists were caught running straight through red lights in comparison to Newark's 575.

Roger Jones

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