By Alex Distefano
It’s no secret that many municipalities throughout the Inland Empire have given a green light to red light cameras.
But now, with communities such as Moreno Valley, Hemet, Grand Terrace and others vowing to discontinue programs that use these devices, Corona is set to tackle the question of whether or not to continue using the five cameras it has installed and have been in use since 2009. According to the city of Corona’s website: “The cameras photograph a motorist who fails to stop for a red light and also records the violations in streaming video.”
Corona Councilman Steve Nolan told The Press-Enterprise that the city will have to keep forking over $30,000 dollars a month to renew its year-long photo enforcement contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, the company in charge of the cameras. For anyone unlucky enough to get caught literally in the red, the fines come out to nearly $500 per violation, with an increase for each subsequent offense.
Nolan has publicly said that the cameras and the resulting citations are not only an unfair penalty for drivers, but “they don’t decrease traffic collisions, and in this economy it just is a devastating blow to people who pay that huge amount.”
But Nolan isn’t the only critic. A local blogger, activist and editor of www.highwayrobbery.net (a website that offers free advice and information about red-light camera tickets) insists that something is fishy with Corona’s red light cameras. The editor claims that data from Corona’s public records reveal that for the 60-day period between May and June of this year, the total number of red light violations in the city was a whopping 54 percent higher than the total for the same two-month period in 2011, and 34 percent higher than the same two-month period in 2010.
Weekly readers can check out the documents related to this issue here.
But highwayrobbery.net’s editor says the situation isn’t hopeless. Disgruntled drivers who feel they are being taken for a ride by red light cameras run amok can make their voices heard.
“I just inquired with the city clerk in Corona, and she told me that the contract renewal would be discussed at the Aug. 22 study session,” highwayrobbery.net’s editor tells the Weekly. “The issue could come to the full council, possibly on Sept. 4.”
The editor suggest that motorists might want to consider avoiding cities with red light cameras, in essence boycotting the area, and limiting your exposure to potential tickets.
“There is a very practical reason not to shop any more in red light towns,” he says. “In the questionnaire on my website, I ask defendants how often they have been at the intersection where they got their ticket. While the majority of defendants were caught at intersections they had not visited previously, a substantial portion was caught at an intersection they were very familiar with.
His conclusion? “You are not safe from getting a ticket—or getting in an accident—simply because you know there’s a camera there. It’s like playing with snakes—no matter how careful you try to be, eventually they will catch you off guard, and you will get bit. The small amount of money you have saved at the big box discount store in that town will be more than offset by the cost of tickets, rear-ending someone or being rear-ended.”
Councilman Nolan did not return phone calls from the Weekly seeking comment for this story.