City pulls plug on red light cameras

System not cost effective, officials say
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein |
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Red light cameras in Roseville are officially dead. After four years of troubles with the system, the Roseville Police Department earlier this summer quietly ended plans to bring back photo red-light enforcement to Roseville intersections, officials said. Ironically, it may have been Roseville motorists’ safe driving habits that did it in. Camera contractor Redflex Traffic Systems “came back and basically said we can’t find any intersections that would be financially feasible for us to do this and still guarantee cost-neutrality,” said Roseville Police Spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther. The decision ends an experiment fraught with snags: * In 2005, the city’s original red-light camera system, initiated in 2004, was discovered to suffer from a documentation glitch that made it more vulnerable to court challenges. The system was temporarily halted for system updates. * In late 2007, camera operator Nestor Traffic Systems and the city split ways. The city wasn’t happy with image quality, and Nestor said construction at intersections made reconfiguring the system too expensive. Last year, the city entered into a new agreement with Redflex, which was to have installed new high-tech cameras. Under the contract, Roseville would have paid $6,000 a month per intersection approach to Redflex. But the company was so secure that traffic scofflaws’ fees would offset the charges, it guaranteed the city cost neutrality. In the end, Redflex’s traffic surveys couldn’t find enough potential violators to make the system cost neutral – unless the city agreed to enforce rolling right-turns. For a number of reasons, the city won't commit to that, Gunther said. Around Sierra College on Thursday, students expressed differing opinions on whether red-light cameras should get the green light. Some said they encouraged unsafe driving behaviors, while others questioned whether the lights give motorists a fair shake. Student Andrei Moldovan said he thinks cameras actually make intersections less safe. “They try to speed through it earlier to try and catch it,” Moldovan said. “For me, I got nowhere important to be.” Student Jacob Russell agreed. “They speed to get through it. Either that, or they slam on their brakes,” he said. Dalton McKinzie said there’s something more pressing that determines how he approaches intersections – his schedule. “It depends on if I’m in a rush,” he said. “If it’s a yellow light and I’m in a hurry, I’ll try to push it.” Not everyone agreed. Student Kile Bigbee said he thinks red light cameras act as a good influence. “I think they make people think to stop, even if there’s not a cop around,” Bigbee said. Police say the absence of cameras isn’t an excuse to blow through intersections. “We are still enforcing those,” Gunther said. “We’re doing some special operations this month where an officer will stop you and cite you.” With the city’s decision not to pursue photo enforcement, Rocklin remains the only Placer County city to use the technology. Cameras are in place at Sunset Boulevard and Park Drive and Rocklin Road and I-80.