The following is a report presented to the Hermosa Beach
(California) Public Works Commission, at their meeting of March 23, 2005.
It has been OCR'd from a copy of the original. Mistakes / typos / missing
footnotes in the original are
indicated by [sic].
January 17, 2005
601 Valencia Avenue, Suite 250
Brea, CA 92823
Tel: (714) 940-0100
Fax: (714) 940-0700
The incidence of motorists entering an intersection when the
traffic signal has turned red is a significant safety concern across the
county. A violation occurs when a motorist enters an intersection (often
deliberately) some time after the signal light has turned red. According to
California Vehicle Code CVC 21453 (a), a motorist violates the red-light
traffic law by crossing the limit line and proceeding through an intersection
after the light has turned red. However, motorists inadvertently in an
intersection when the signal changes to red aren’t considered to be red-light
Red-light-running is considered to be a significant problem
across the country. More than half of the deaths in red-light-running crashes
are other motorists and pedestrians, so there is no debate that
red-light-runners are dangerous drivers who irresponsibly put others at risk.
In 1997, slightly more than 44% of the fatalities at signalized intersections
were attributed to red-light-running. In the year 2000, throughout the state of
California, 25,014 crashes were attributed to red-light violations, causing 93
fatalities and 14,868 injuries.
As a result of numerous crashes and tragedies, the American
public is deeply concerned with the recent increase in red-light-running. Most
Americans (96 percent) are afraid of being hit by a red-light runner, but
nearly, one in five admit to running a red light in the last ten intersections.
The leading excuse given for red light running was neither frustration nor road
rage, it was “being in a hurry”. One in three people claim they personally know
someone who has been injured or killed in a red-light-running crash -similar
to the percentage of people who know someone who was killed or injured by a
The financial cost to the public due to accidents attributed
to red-light-running was estimated to exceed $14 billion per year in the United
States. The California Highway Patrol estimates that each red light running
fatality costs $2,600,000 and other red-light-running crashes cost between
$2,000 and $ 1,83,000, [sic] depending on severity. Despite such catastrophic
consequences, only a small fraction of red-light runners faces any punishment.
There is a wide range of potential countermeasures to the
Engineering countermeasures are intended to reduce the
chances of a driver being in a position where she must decide whether or not to
run the red indication. There are three types of engineering countermeasures
that are known to reduce red-light-running.
in Signal Operation
of Motorist Information
Improvement of the Intersection
Enforcement countermeasures are intended to encourage adhering
drivers to the traffic laws through the threat of citation and possible fine.
To deploy a red-light-camera technology, is considered to be a countermeasure
of this category.
To educate the people to inform about the significant concern
of red-light-running and its serious consequences, can help to warn the
red-light-runners and reduce the frequency of red-light-running.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has identified
red-light-cameras as a measure to be considered when addressing intersection
crashes in conjunction with any other needed mitigation measures including
engineering improvements. The manual enforcement of the traffic law with
physical presence of a police officer can be automated by readily available
vehicle detection and camera surveillance technology.
In the year 2004 at least 100 U.S. communities in 19 states
including California, deployed the red-light-camera technology. More than 50
jurisdictions in California are known to have installed red-light-cameras. A few
examples of the Southern California cities are:
a) Beverly Hills b)
Cerritos c) Costa Mesa d)
Fullerton e) Garden Grove f) Irvine
g) Long Beach h) Los Angeles City i) Montebello
j) Oxnard k) Pasadena l) San Diego m) San Juan Capistrano n) Santa Ana o) Santa Clarita p) South
Gate q) Ventura r) West Hollywood s) Whittier
Various benefits are achieved through installing.
a) Reduction in
An Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) study
published in 2002 evaluated a red-light-running camera program in Oxnard,
California. The result showed that signalized intersections in Oxnard
experienced a statistically significant 32% reduction in right-angle crashes
and a significant 68% reduction in right-angle injury crashes. The study
provides evidence that red-light-cameras (RLC) in the United States
(specifically in California) can reduce the risk of motor vehicle crashes, in
particular injury crashes, at intersections with traffic signals.
Other studies including a National Cooperative Highway
Research Program (NCHRP) study published in 2003 concludes that there is
considerable evidence that red-light-cameras (RLC) do have an overall positive
effect. Most of the studies and analyses have shown “observed” reductions in
b) Savings in
A report published in January 2005 showed that U.S. cities
could potentially save millions of dollars in injury and societal costs by
using red-light-camera photo enforcement technology. Researchers estimate total
societal cost reductions for the entire red-light-camera jurisdiction studied
to be over $14 million per year. It was also found that an average
red-light-camera location in the U.S. results in $38,000 a year in reduced
monitoring at multiple locations
Police officers conducting traditional enforcement at
intersections can issue citations to drivers when they are observed violating
the law. But enforcement of red light violations by police officers can be
difficult. To catch a motorist running a red light, an officer must actually
observe the violation. Even if an officer is present, pursuing the violation
may put other motorists and pedestrians, as well as the officer, at risk of a
d) Over-all safety
Knowing red-light-cameras (RLC) are being used in the
community encourages drivers to stop for red lights, whether or not an
intersection is equipped with a camera.
e) Revenue earned
by the local government
A study published in July 2002 by California State Bureau of
State Audits (6), [sic] showed that most local government red-light-camera
programs operate at the break-even point or at a slight loss. However, two out
of studied seven [sic] local governments (San Diego and Oxnard) generated
significant cumulative net revenues from their red-light-camera programs.