After a presentation by Escondido city staff last Wednesday, city council voted to let the city’s contract with Redflex expire in December 2013 and terminate police enforcement of photo-recorded red light violations.
In 2003, the city entered into a five-year contract with Redflex, a traffic systems developer from Phoenix, AZ, to lease equipment and provide support. Between 2004 and 2006, red light camera systems were installed at seven intersections around the city, four of which are on Valley Parkway. The contract was renewed for an additional five years in 2008 and will expire on Dec 12, 2013.
Since the camera systems were installed, accidents at those seven intersections were reduced by about 30%. However, during the last five years, the city also improved safety at other intersections; left turn phases of lights were created, improved signal coordination achieved, retro-reflective backplates installed, etc. As a result, the accident rate reductions at Redflex red light intersections were not very different from accident rate reductions at other intersections city-wide.
Last year, the city paid Redflex about $627,000 and raised only $450,000 in ticket revenue with a net cost to the city of about $177,000. Other safety improvements made by the city cost significantly less and provided at least as much additional safety for drivers. In light of the cost and lack of additional safety benefit, it was felt the program has essentially run its course.
Ending enforcement of violations generated by the red light cameras was supported by Police Chief Craig Carter. In his first appearance before the city council as police chief, Carter said “If the council’s direction is to terminate the contract at December 12, then I will be leading my staff to stop issuing citations immediately.”
As part of the unanimous decision, councilman Morasco said, “In lieu of the fact that there are alternatives that at least statistically appear to be better than what we’re getting with the red light cameras and perhaps more cost effective as well, [let the program lapse].”
With a final comment before the vote, Mayor Abed said, “For me it has never been a financial exercise — this is about the lives we save with this program. This is about public safety, period. It seems now that these [Redflex] intersections are like any other intersections.”