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January 28, 2014 > Letter to the Editor: Fewer Red Light Running Violations in Fremont

Letter to the Editor: Fewer Red Light Running Violations in Fremont

Fremont has achieved significant reductions in red light running in 2013 thanks to Caltrans. Back in November of 2010 Caltrans lengthened the yellow light at Mission and Mohave from 4.3 seconds, the legal minimum, to 5.0 seconds. There was an immediate 75% reduction in straight through violations according to the data provided by Redflex, the camera vendor. This lower rate has been sustained for the ensuing three years and the 4th quarter data of 2013 shows an even greater degree of safety; 82% fewer violations than pre-2010 levels.

Now Caltrans has done it again. Caltrans lengthened the left turn yellow arrow at Mission Blvd and Mohave Dr. from the legal minimum of 3.0 seconds to a more generous 4.0 seconds. Once again, when motorists are given proper warning, there are fewer violations. In the three month period of Oct - Dec 2013 vs. the same three month period of the prior year, there was an 82% reduction in potential left turn violations. Of course, there are fairly wide swings in violations from one month to the next, but there is one clear conclusion. There are many fewer violations than ever before.

Caltrans also lengthened the yellow light at Mission and Warm Springs in 2012 just as it did at Mission and Mohave in 2010. This light was also reset from 4.3 to 5.0 seconds. Data from 12 months prior to the change compared to 12 months after the change shows a 58% reduction in potential violations from an average of 79 per month to just 33 per month.

So do red light cameras reduce red light running? At the remaining eight intersections where yellow light timing has remained unchanged, there has actually been a 13% increase in 2013 compared with 2012. Not a reduction of 58% to 82%, but an actual increase.

Proponents of red light cameras tout that these devices achieve a safety benefit because they change driver behavior. Results show that it is not the driver's behavior which needs changing, but the engineering of our intersections.

Roger Jones

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