Fine hiked for red-light runners 

Drivers caught racing through red lights in San Francisco will be paying $466 citations, an increase brought on by The City’s precarious budget situation.

Drivers cited last year by police officers or caught on camera ignoring traffic stops paid The City more than $2 million in tickets that cost $446 each.

As city officials struggle to plug a $483 million budget hole, a $20 increase in the cost of the traffic-violation fee is expected to net an extra $100,000 next fiscal year, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

“That’s a lot of money,” said Luis Buenfil, an Alameda resident who works in San Francisco. “If it helps to prevent accidents from happening, then it’s good, but I still think that is pricey.”

Last year, the SFMTA collected $590,000 for police-issued tickets to drivers who were caught running red lights. Now, the agency is anticipating $690,000 from police-issued tickets, according to the proposed budget for next fiscal year.

But the biggest chunk of money comes from drivers who are caught on camera. The SFMTA collected more than $1.8 million from violations caught on for red-light cameras, and it expects to bring in the same amount next fiscal year, according to the budget.

San Francisco has 46 red-light cameras installed at The City’s most problematic intersections, where there has been a history of accidents and drivers running red lights, according to the Police Department.

San Francisco first installed red-light cameras in 1996 and has since used the money collected through tickets to expand the program.

“It’s also a deterrent where if people know there is a red-light camera, they think twice about going through the intersection. It reduces traffic collisions,” said Police Officer Albie Esparza.

In the past two years, San Francisco red-light cameras recorded more than 56,171 drivers running red lights. However, only 24,001 of those received citations, Esparza said.

in 2009, police issued 9,417 tickets for red light violations. So far this year, they have written 8,119 tickets to drivers caught running red lights, according to SFPD.

There are various reasons not all drivers are cited, including obstructed license plates or police might not be able to positively identify the driver. In some cases, the vehicle is registered to a female yet a male driver was recorded running the red light, Esparza said.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com


Unwilling to stop

56,171 Drivers caught on camera running red lights in past two years

24,001 Drivers caught on camera who received citations

7,200 Intersections in The City

1,181 Intersections with signals

1921 Year first traffic signal was installed

Sources: Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco Police Department

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Erin Sherbert

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