3 more intersections to get cameras
Surveillance, citation threat have cut down on red-light violations
BY JUDY O'ROURKE, Staff Writer
SANTA CLARITA - Red-light cameras will be installed at three additional Santa Clarita intersections after the success of the enforcement system at five busy junctions, city officials said Tuesday.
The new intersections that will come under camera surveillance in about three months are Bouquet Canyon Road and Newhall Ranch Road, McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard, and Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road.
They made the cut from about 10 that were surveyed.
Fewer drivers have run red lights at the five intersections wired with enforcement cameras, prompting expansion of the program.
The red-light camera program is not a big moneymaker but seems to be changing drivers' behavior in a big way, city's traffic engineer Andrew Yi said.
"The first six months compared to the second, the number of violations dropped about 40 percent," Yi said. "The devices are causing people to be more cautious or be more alert of red lights."
About 300 citations are issued each month at the five locations, down from more than 500 a month when the program began in July 2004.
In 2004, 5,879 citations were issued, and in 2005, 5,332 were issued, said sheriff's Lt. Mike Dunkle.
The violation costs drivers $351 in fines. About $147 is paid to the city and $89 is paid to the company that operates the program, which Yi said has been close to revenue-neutral for the city. In the first year, Santa Clarita's share of the fines was $601,000, which was offset
by about $543,000 in costs.
Concerns that the cameras would actually increase rear-end crashes if drivers slam on their brakes to stop for the cameras have proved unfounded. Sheriff's Detective Tony Arnold also said no fatal collisions have occurred at the wired intersections.
Arnold said crashes in town number 170 to 250 a month.
Another electronic system - with no cameras - allows deputies parked in squad cars near four major intersections to "see" whether drivers run the lights. A signal alerts a deputy - positioned in view of the limit line - to see when the light facing in the opposite direction has changed from yellow to red.
He says the electronic devices are helpful tools.
"As the population goes up and the numbers of businesses (increases), we are not getting a huge increase in collisions - the per-capita number of collisions has gone down," Arnold said.
The city's five-year contract with Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. provides for wiring 20 intersections, but Yi said he is not sure whether more cameras are warranted.