Red-light cameras closer to reality 

Drivers running red lights at intersections may soon have their photos taken — but it’s unlikely the pictures will be proudly displayed in a family album.

A resolution authorizing the city to bring in a consultant from Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. to help the city decide whereto put red-light cameras was expected to pass the City Council at Monday night’s meeting.

The cameras snap a photo of the license plate and the driver as a car illegally passes through an intersection. The owner of the vehicle is subsequently mailed a traffic citation.

In 2006, Daly City’s traffic officers issued 260 red-light infractions, which can run approximately $348 each, according to police.

San Mateo, Burlingame and Millbrae have all approved red-light cameras, but Burlingame has yet to install its cameras.

Since 2000, Daly City has seen 105 accidents caused by red-light runners at its 11 intersections where that type of accident is most common, according to police.

To combat red-light runners, in 2005 the city also installed "tattletale" devices allowing police officers safer and easier monitoring of red-light infractions by alerting them when oncoming traffic has a red light. Those devices feature lights on the back of traffic lights that shine when the light is red.

City Manager Pat Martel said the city was discussing a six-intersection pilot program for red-light cameras — mentioning the intersection of Junipero Serra Boulevard and Washington Street specifically — with the number of monitored intersections increasing depending on the success of the pilot program.

"We want to move forward with this right away," Martel said, noting that the City Council was also asked to approve a program administrator, a sworn officer paid by the hour who reviews the video to verify whether there was a violation.

There is no estimate for the amount of revenue the program could produce for the city, but it poses no financial risk because the program pays for the program administrator, and a portion of the money created by the program goes to Redflex for installation and upkeep, Martel said.

In 2005, San Mateo collected between $50,000-$60,000 from its program with two cameras, located at Hillsdale and Saratoga boulevards, and Hillsdale Boulevard and South Norfolk Street. Roughly $30,000 of that went to Redflex.

Camera opponents have not fared well legally in San Mateo County as legal complaints against San Mateo’s cameras failed to gain any traction in court.

The program is an incentive to have people slow down as they drive, read signs and prevent more accidents, Councilwoman Judith Christensen said.

"If giving more tickets is the only way, then that’s what we’ll do," Christensen said. "It’s basically a pedestrian or driver fatality waiting to happen, and we’re really trying to prevent that."

Red light — stop!

From Jan. 1, 2000, to Dec. 31, 2006, these Daly City intersections had the most accidents where the primary cause was a driver running a red light.

1. Skyline Boulevard and Westmoor Avenue: 17

2. Hickey Boulevard and the Interstate 280 offramp: 14

3. Hillside Boulevard and Mission Street: 9

4. John Daly Boulevard and Junipero Serra Boulevard: 9

*5. John Daly Boulevard and Lake Merced Boulevard: 9

6. Skyline Boulevard and Westridge Avenue: 9

7. I-280 Mission Street offramp and Junipero Serra Boulevard: 8

*8. Eastmoor Avenue and Sullivan Avenue: 8

9. Hickey Boulevard and Imperial Way: 8

*10. De Long Street and John Daly Boulevard: 7

*11. Gellert Boulevard and Hickey Boulevard: 7

* Under the jurisdiction of the city, not San Mateo County or Caltrans.

- Source: Daly City Police Department

dsmith@examiner.com

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