Video evidence shows a San Bernardino, California red light camera operating with a yellow time so short it violates state law.
A brand new red light camera on California’s historic Route 66 is already generating thousands in revenue for San Bernardino, but the biggest lawbreaker in these cases may turn out to be the city itself. Since September 25, a photo ticketing device has watched over the intersection of Mount Vernon Avenue and 9th Street, trapping motorists caught by a yellow light that is so short it violates state law.
Truck driver Raymond Chacon discovered this last month while taking a training course to help him upgrade his commercial driver’s license. Under the supervision of an instructor, he came to the intersection behind the wheel of a big-rig tractor trailer. He entered just a split-second after the light had turned red. After successfully completing the course and passing the Department of Motor Vehicles Class A license test “with flying colors,” Chacon received a $400 red light camera ticket in the mail. Chacon immediately began investigating what might have happened at that location. He turned to the highwayrobbery.net website, which encouraged him to check whether the city used yellow signal timing that conformed with state guidelines.
Video from the intersection in question confirms that drivers are given only 3.0 seconds of yellow, even though the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) insists that 35 MPH intersections have a yellow of no less than 3.6 seconds. While this 0.6 second shortage appears insignificant, it can represent the difference between a ticket and no ticket for thousands of motorists. This is even more true for truck drivers like Chacon.
Texas district court judge finds red light camera company guilty of operating without a license.
Dallas, Texas based Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) earlier this month became the second major photo enforcement camera company to be busted for operating without a license. Proceedings are scheduled to continue today in a Dallas County courtroom as 192nd Civil District Court Judge Craig Smith decides the appropriate remedy for the situation.
On November 19, Smith issued an order declaring the company in violation of a state law requiring commercial firms that provide evidence for use in court to have a license that proves their employees have passed strict criminal background checks and other requirements. Dallas attorney Lloyd Ward sued ACS after the company mailed a ticket to his home.
“Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of failure to obtain appropriate license and bond under the Texas Occupation Code Section 1702.101 et seq. is hereby granted,” Judge Smith wrote.
Smith’s order agreed with a May ruling by the Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners which found Australian camera operator Redflex Traffic Systems had been illegally operating an investigation service in that state. Both Louisiana and Texas impose similar restrictions on commercial services that provide evidence for use in court.
“Unless the person holds a license as an investigations company, a person may not… offer to perform the services of an investigations company,” Texas Code Section 1702 states. “A person acts as an investigations company for the purposes of this chapter if the person engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing… information related to… crime or wrongs done; or… engages in the business of securing… evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or investigating committee… furnishing information includes information obtained or furnished through the review and analysis of, and the investigation into the content of, computer-based data not available to the public.”
Overly quick red light camera trigger in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania results in 4390 refunded citations worth $439,000.
A total of 4390 red light camera tickets, worth $439,000, will be refunded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after a ticket challenge revealed that they were improperly issued. The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper uncovered the error while investigating the case of Mike Kochkodin, 59, who received a ticket on March 17 for allegedly entering an intersection two-tenths of a second after the light turned red. Last month, a Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) adjudicator summarily dismissed Kochkodin’s case, noting that the city had promised not to take photos until a third of a second had elapsed. After an article appeared on Thursday, PPA decided to refund the tickets.
“We did not know the magnitude of the problem, nor did the contractor report it,” PPA Executive Director Vince Fenerty told the Inquirer. “Should we have looked further? Most definitely. We didn’t.”
Fenerty suggested the error was caused by the February switch from cameras that use 35mm film to fully digital camera technology. The contractor, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), is accustomed to using the quicker trigger setting to maximize the number of tickets issued and was unaware of the 0.33 second requirement. Shorter trigger settings or “grace periods” allow jurisdictions to collect more revenue because the greatest number of technical violations occur within the first 0.25 seconds after a light turns red, according to a Texas Transportation Institute study. Ticketing such violations has little impact on safety as the same study showed the probability of a right-angle collision within a split-second after a signal changes from yellow to red is almost zero at an intersection with a protected left turn lane. “Given a 1.0-second all-red interval, the probabilities also suggest that crossing through vehicles will not start to enter until after about 4 seconds have lapsed,” the Texas study explained (page 99).