red light cameras

The City of Sacramento has 11 red light camera locations: Red Light Running Program. Of these, some are at high-injury intersections, but most are not. These locations are cross-referenced with high injury intersections shown in the post Sac Vision Zero new intersections map.

LocationTop allTop pedTop bike
Mack Rd & La Mancha Way/Valley Hi Drnonono
El Camino Ave & Evergreen Stnonono
Howe Ave & Fair Oaks Blvdnonono
Mack Rd & Center Parkwaynonono
Exposition Blvd & Ethan Waynonono
Broadway & 21st Stnonono
Folsom Blvd & Howe Ave/Power Inn Rdnonono
Arden Way & Challenge Waynonono
5th St & I Stnonono
16th St & W Stnonono
Alhambra Blvd & J Stnonono

My first thought is that the city was putting these cameras in the wrong location. But then I thought, what if the presence of red light cameras is making these locations safer and therefore dropping them out of the highest injury intersection list. I don’t have the information to answer that question, which would take analysis of crashes at the intersections, and before/after data.

What I do know is that many more red light cameras are needed to counteract the pandemic of red light running: pandemic of red light running. I spend time around the edges of Fremont Park, close to where I live, which includes the intersection of arterial streets P, Q, 15th, and 16th, and one of the things I do is watch traffic in the intersections. It has now become rare for a signal cycle for 16th St northbound at P St to not see an incidence of red light running. The other intersections are not quite as bad, but the pattern is there. And this is happening everywhere in Sacramento that I go; these are not likely to even be the worst intersections.

I believe that most of the red light running is by egregious violators, people who routinely and continuously violate traffic law for their own convenience or thrill seeking. This is true of most traffic violations, but red light running is the one most likely to result in fatality and serious injury, for people in all modes of travel. So having a more widespread set of red light cameras would serve to catch these red light violators. Of course the follow-up is necessary, to revoke the licenses and confiscate the vehicles of these repeat offenders. The longer the city looks the other way on this issue, the more people will come to see it as normal behavior, and the less safe our streets will be.

The standard response by cars-first entitled drivers is that tickets are just a money-making scheme by the government. The purpose of red light cameras is to make streets safer, and if that results in some income, so be it. I’m more than happy to have these sociopathic drivers hit in the pocketbook, and the money can be used to make our streets safer, such as by installing more red light cameras. Red light tickets, with photos, are part of the documentation needed to revoke licenses and confiscate vehicles.