Last week the Los Angeles Police Commission, the citizen panel that oversees the LAPD, unanimously voted to reject the LAPD’s recommendation to extend the city’s contract with an Arizona based group that provides, maintains, and utilizes “red light cameras” at 32 Los Angeles intersections. The move came as a shock to the LAPD, but has been widely praised, including two editorials in the city’s two largest newspapers.
The City Council can override the Police Commission with a two-thirds vote. And while it is unlikely they will do so, it’s too bad that the program is going down without a whimper.
Red light cameras have always been a political hot potato. Privacy advocates have long argued against the government’s right to place cameras at intersections. Others have argued that those ticketed by the cameras don’t have the right to face their accuser as guaranteed by the Constitution. But most people just don’t like getting ticketed when they break the law and are caught doing it. There’s even an Orwellianly named group of “local activists” called “Safer Streets L.A.” that lobbied against the cameras by arguing that cars making right turns on red lights without stopping isn’t really that big of a deal. Nearly two-thirds of tickets given by red light cameras are for cars making illegal right hand turns.
As we n0ted three years ago, cars making right hand turns without yielding is a major traffic safety concern.
When the Federal Highway Administration discusses the conflict between pedestrians and automobiles it ranks “right on red” as the top concern. A look at crash fatality statistics nationwide shows that in Los Angeles, almost one quarter of all crash fatalities are pedestrians.