Categorized | Safety Info

Red Light Photo Enforcement – The Facts!

Posted on 30 December 2009 by Monica Zech

There is No argument – “Red Light Runners” injure and kill! Our emergency agencies respond to these collisions almost everyday!

What’s the big deal about “red light running”? Take a tragic look at a red light runner – This was sent over the internet, it’s a dramatic crash, caught on photo enforcement, involving a red light runner striking a vehicle that inturns rolls over a pedestrian “walking” against a red light – warning – it is shocking, read the story and scroll down and hopefully you can open the video: Dayton, Ohio Red Light Runner Crash

Click on and see: National Campaign To Stop Red Light Running!

  • FACT: Of the 6 Million Plus Crashes Each Year In The U.S. – over 40%of the most “serious injury – fatal crashes” occur at intersections…most often caused by Red Light Runners! You see the people who make it through the RED – WE, as emergency agencies, see and transport the people Who Don’t Make It! (See the numerous examples below.)
  • FACT: It’s not photo enforcement systems making big money for the government agencies that use them – it’s the law breakers-the red light runners who generate that money. There’s a great way to beat a photo enforcement ticket and this system? It’s “very” easy, just follow the laws made for our safety and don’t run RED lights – we all win in saving money, but more important in “saving lives”! Don’t run red lights and the cameras will no longer be needed. What a concept!
Causing more rear-collisions??? Opponents of the system would like you to believe that. It happens when the person behind you is speeding and tailgating (breaking two additional laws driving aggressively)…but if you’re slowing down for those intersections “as you should” – the person behind slows down OR goes “around” you. If you’re slamming on the brakes for the yellow – it could happen – but you also see that on the freeways too.

The City of El Cajon City was the first city in San Diego County to issue photo enforcement tickets. It began in October of 1996, with the first ticket issued in December of 96′. The new system with added cameras, a rear camera shot and a streaming video camera, started in June 2002. This system has been very successful in El Cajon.

Example: At the intersection of Broadway and Mollision, a 3 year study before and after the cameras were added, showed an 86% reduction in traffic collisions at this intersection alone. We credit the success to the joint efforts of Police and city engineers in working together in the planning and operation of this life saving system.

A big “THANK YOU” to San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy and the City Council who voted on 9/17/02, and again on 11/25/02, to reinstate the Red Light Photo Enforcement System for San Diego streets. And congratulations to the other cities around the county who care about safety and will be adding this system to their streets!

What you may not be aware of, while the cameras were turned off, San Diego Police reported a dramatic increase in overall collisions on San Diego streets. On a personal note: There were times “I” had to wait for as many as a dozen vehicles running the red before it was safe for me to proceed on a “green”. Obviously these drivers knew the cameras were turned off and knew they were getting away with this behavior. Thus the term – “Getting away with murder”.

Also be advised the fines have gone up from $271 to $321-$341 for running a red light. (Fines will depend on the city and the judge.) Most fines for a moving violation are over $300, but costs for serious injuries-especially someone paralyzed, can rise over a million dollars in the first couple of years…a funeral around $6,000. Best way to beat any ticket – injuring – killing? Don’t break the laws made for our safety! You’re safer – we’re safer!!!

Remember…whether you’re for or against this system – this “PHOTO” system may some day come to your rescue in deciding “who was at fault” in your collision. Yes- these cameras have caught crashes as they happen. These pictures taken speak for the innocent, those injured or worse “killed” – at these intersections!

Remember, don’t blame the officer who may stop you when “you choose” to break the law. Feel very fortunate if you’ve avoided injury and death by getting a ticket instead.


Also remember, as noted earlier, if you “don’t run red lights” – no fines – no crashes – no injuries – no deaths…and the photo enforcement system goes away”…it’s that simple!

Note: I base my feelings on fact – (see the examples below) my facts come from both professional and personal experience, especially during my previous 18 year career as a traffic reporter and traffic researcher. Almost daily I reported on these types of crashes. When driving, just by being alert behind the wheel, I’ve avoided being hit by “red light runners” numerous times. I also happen to be someone who truly cares about everyone’s safety…and I know, by your emails, I’m not alone!>

Note: Despite the facts…there are those who do not agree with me in the importance of obeying laws, and supporting “Photo enforcement”. But, I do respect your right to disagree. In this country we have a right to free speech…but not through threats or obscentities. I’m trying to stop future deaths and injuries caused by red light (or stop sign) runners. It happens more than you realize.

The following crashes involve “Red Light Runners” – Then you’ll see why I’m passionate about this issue and about safety:

The following are factsnot fiction

Date: 12/20/05 2149 (9:49 p.m.) – Location: FRIARS RD / FRAZEE RD, MISSION VALLEY WEST

Synopsis: A female driving a Toyota Camry was at the stoplight E/B Friars Rd. in the left hand turn lane to N/B 163. The light turn green and she proceeded into the intersection and was struck by a male, 20 years old, driving a Ford Explorer W/B Friars Rd while running the red light. Nine people from the two vehicles were transported to local hospitals. A sig-alert was issued for traffic congestion in the area. Traffic Division is handling the investigation.

10/01/05 at 2016 (8:16pm)



P-1, a mini van, failed to stop for a red light while on the exit ramp. The van struck the curb of the ramp and continued into the intersection striking two E/B cars on Imperial Avenue. An 11-year-old girl was in the back seat of the van with no seatbelt. She suffered a broken right femur when she was thrown to the floor upon impact. She was transported to the hospital for treatment. Traffic Division is handling.

This “red light runner” was a bicyclist…it was a fatal mistake:

06/19/05 2213 – (10:13pm)



Synopsis: A bicyclist riding south on Reagan Rd was struck and killed by a vehicle driving east on Mira Mesa Bl. Witnesses reported that the bicyclist ran a red light before entering the intersection. The bicyclist was a male in his 30’s. Traffic Division is handling the investigation.

  • Teacher Late For School Kills Motorcyclist – Driver Ran Red LightPOSTED: 11:09 am PDT September 21, 2004SAN DIEGO — San Diego police said a teacher who was running late for school killed a motorcyclist on Tuesday morning.

    Police said Kent Johnson, 57, was headed north on Kearny Villa Road about 7:40 a.m., using a bicycle lane to pass vehicles, when he veered left onto Miramar Road near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. His Pontiac sedan struck the eastbound motorcycle, according to San Diego police.

    Randy Sanchez, 37, of Mira Mesa died at the scene, a coroner’s investigator said. Police said the biker had a green light when Johnson’s vehicle hit him.

    Officers arrested the teacher on suspicion of felony gross vehicular manslaughter. San Diego police spokesman David Cohen said that the teacher told officers that he ran the light because he was late for school. He was not hurt in the crash.

    Detectives closed lanes at the intersection for the rest of the morning to conduct their investigation.
    2004 by

  • Date: July 2, 2004 – 11:41am
    Location: 3800 CARMEL MTN
    Synopsis: A Mercedes-Benz was going E/B on Carmel Mtn Rd. A Ford F-150 was going N/B on Vista Sorrento Pkwy. The Mercedes ran a red light. The Ford struck the Mercedes and force of the impact pushed the Mercedes into a tree. The driver of the Mercedes had to be extricated from his vehicle. The driver was transported to a hospital for a fracture pelvis. Traffic handled.
  • July 1, 2004 – 5:56pm
    Location: 30th & Market Street
    Synopsis: The victim was driving his car S/B on 30th Street, when a white Explorer drove through a red light at Market Street and hit the victim’s car. The driver of the Explorer kept driving and made a right turn on to Island Street. At Island and 26th Street, three occupants of the Explorer exited the vehicle and rushed the victim, stabbing him in the neck. They then drove off in an unknown direction. The victim tried to follow the suspects, but crashed into a parked car. Officers later stopped the suspects at Sicard and Irving and took all three suspects into custody.
  • May 6, 2004 – 3:24am
    Location: 1424 Continetal Street, Otay Mesa
    Type: Vehicle Collision w/Injuries
    Synopsis: A moving truck was making a left turn on to S/B Cactus from W/B 905, when a semi-truck driving E/B on 905 drove through a red light at Cactus smashing into the moving van. The driver of the moving truck was extracted out of the truck and transported to the hospital via Life Flight with internal injuries. The other driver was also taken to the hospital.
  • May 5, 2004 – 3:25pm
    Location: 7814 Caminto Santa Luz, Black Mt. Ranch
    Type: Vehicle Collision With Injuries
    Synopsis: A driver of a pick-up truck was N/B on Camino Del Sur and failed to stop for a red signal light. A car driving W/B on Caminito Santaluz was making a left turn on to Camino Del Sur and was broadside. The driver of the car has a fractured pelvis and was taken to the hospital.
  • May 1, 2004 – 3:18pm
    Imperial Ave. at Valencia Park, Neighborhood: Valencia Park
    Type: Serious Injury Collision:
    Synopsis: P-2, a 24-25 year old male was driving a 1993 Toyota sedan westbound Imperial. He had the green light, as he turned southbound on Valencia. P-1, a 22-year-old male was also driving a 1993 Toyota sedan drove eastbound on Imperial through a red light and struck P-2. Several people in both vehicles were transported to two local hospitals for treatment of their injuries. The driver of P-1 possibly has internal injuries.
  • May 1, 2004 – 11:25pm
    Location: Lincoln Avenue at Washington Street, University Heights
    Type: Serious Injury Collision
    Synopsis: Yellow Cab #59 was S/B on Lincoln Ave approaching a green light at Washington Ave. A Suzuki motorcycle with two people on it was W/B on Washington Ave. It (the motorcyclist) ran the right light at Lincoln and ran into the Yellow Cab. The driver suffered a fractured pelvis and serious head injuries. The passenger had minor injuries. The cab driver was not hurt. Traffic Division is handling.
  • April 19, 2004 – 7:30am
    La Jolla Village and Genesee, University City
    Type: Serious Injury/Bike Collision
    Synopsis: A 43 yr old male rode his bicycle against the red signal N/B Genesee and into the path of a Toyota traveling W/B La Jolla Village. The bicyclist was taken to a local hospital with multiple fractures. Traffic is investigating.
  • Location: 6949 Genesee Avenue, University City
    Type: Serious Injury Crash
    Synopsis: A male in his 50’s, driving a Volvo station wagon was making a left hand from the parking lot at University High School to southbound Genesse Ave. An 83 year old female driving a Toyota station wagon failed to stop at the red light and struck the Volvo station wagon. Both parties were transported to local hospitals with internal injuries. Traffic Division is handling.
  • March 29, 2004, at 6:04pm
    Location: Del Mar Heights Rd/El Camino Real, Carmel Valley
    Type: Serious Injury Collision:
    Synopsis: A 17yr old male driving a BMW was traveling southbound on El Camino Real and failed to stop at the red light at Del Mar Heights Rd. The BMW made a right turn onto Del Mar Heights Rd and struck a motorcycle being driven by an 18 yr old male. The motorcycle driver suffered a broken femur and a broken hip and was transported to a local hospital.

Red light runners are not always just a sober driver ignoring laws:
Here is one example of a local news story of a “red light runner” you may have missed:

  • San Diego Police Arrest Suspect In Downtown DUI CrashJuly 6. 2003 – San Diego police said that a man suspected of running a red light and broadsiding another vehicle, injuring three people, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol Sunday.The crash occurred at approximately 11:30 a.m., two blocks from a police station at 13th and Market streets, San Diego police acting Lt. Rodney Vandiver said. According to Vandiver, Tobin White, 30, allegedly ran a red light at the intersection and his vehicle broadsided another vehicle. A woman in the other vehicle suffered a broken shoulder, and two other people were slightly injured. Vandiver said White’s vehicle then struck a third vehicle heading west on Market. Police said White was booked into the central jail on suspicion of felony DUI.


This was DUI related, but many red light runners are sober – in a rush and/or driving aggressively! Photo enforcement often takes a picture of these crashes helping the innocent collect toward their hospital – OR FUNERAL costs.

Another example of RED Light Running – but this time the driver (who ran the red) dies:

  • January 2, 2004 at 6:30pm
    Location: 1625 Heritage Road, Otay Mesa
    Type: Serious Injury Collision
    Synopsis: A female, driving a Honda Accord, failed to stop for a red traffic signal, while she was traveling S/B on Heritage crossing I-905. As she crossed 905 a Tractor trailer traveling N/B on 905 hit the Accord flipping it over. The Driver of the Accord was pronounced dead at the scene.

In this crash, the Red Light runner was injured:

  • January 16, 2004 at 9:33am
    Location: Black Mtn Road at Carroll Canyon Road, Mira Mesa
    Type: Serious Injury Collision:
    Synopsis: An adult male was driving a motorcycle on Black Mountain Road. The driver failed to stop for the red traffic light at the intersection of Carroll Canyon Road and hit another vehicle. The driver sustained a serious compound fracture to his right leg.

But, starting off the New Year of 2004, here’s another RED Light Runner that injures several innocent people:

  • January 1, 2004 at 1:15am:
    Location: Clairemont Drive at Clairemont Mesa Blvd, N. Clairemont
    Type: Serious Injury Collision:
    Synopsis: P-1, a 1995 Toyota, made a turn from E/B Clairemont Mesa Blvd to N/B Clairemont Drive, against a red light, colliding with P-2 a 2002 Ford Ranger. Three people were transported to the hospital. A female passenger’s in P-1 suffered serious injuries. Traffic Division is handling.

Yet another example of the injuries caused by “red light runners”, this on Christmas:

  • December 25, 2003, Location: Poway Road at Sabre Springs Road, Sabre Springs
    Type: Serious Injury Collision:
    Synopsis: A 19 yr old female was southbound on Sabre Springs Rd crossing Poway Rd on a green signal. A 31 yr old male was driving westbound on Poway Rd and ran the red signal. He struck the driver’s side of the other vehicle causing serious injury to the female driver. She was transported to a local hospital. The driver at fault was transported to a local hospital with less serious injuries. Traffic investigated.

(Who’s next?)

Still need more proof? Here’s a report that answers your questions from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety:

*For over 30 years the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been a leader in finding out what works and doesn’t work to prevent motor vehicle crashes in the first place and reduce injuries in the crashes that still occur. The Institute’s research focuses on countermeasures aimed at all three factors in motor vehicle crashes (human, vehicular, and environmental) and on interventions that can occur before, during, and after crashes to reduce losses. In 1992 the Vehicle Research Center (VRC) was opened. This center, which includes a state-of-the-art crash test facility, is the focus of most of the Institute’s vehicle-related research. The Institute’s affiliate organization, the Highway Loss Data Institute, gathers, processes, and publishes data on the ways in which insurance losses vary among different kinds of vehicles.

Now the report….

March 2001

Traditional traffic law enforcement relies exclusively on the presence of an officer to observe violations and identify and cite offenders. Obviously, this limits the effectiveness of traffic law enforcement because police cannot be everywhere. Even when they observe violations, it is not always possible to safely stop the violator because to make the stop, the officer may have to speed or run a red light.

Red light cameras and other photo-enforcement systems are designed to identify traffic law violators without depending on the presence of police officers. Red light camera systems are connected to traffic signals and to sensors buried in the pavement at the crosswalk or stop line. The system continuously monitors the traffic signal and triggers the camera to photograph the tags of vehicles entering the intersection after the light has turned red. In most cases, a second photograph is taken to show the offending vehicle in the intersection. The camera records the date, time, and speed of the vehicle; a clear image of the vehicle is produced under a wide range of light and weather conditions. Images are carefully reviewed, and citations are mailed to the registered owners of the vehicles for which there is unambiguous evidence of a violation.

Although courts have repeatedly upheld photo enforcement, opponents often claim that it violates a variety of constitutional and other legal protections. The following is a list of some of the objections that are most often raised and responses to those objections.

Myth: Like old-fashioned speed traps, photo enforcement is designed to make money, not protect the public.

Myth: Photo enforcement allows police to act as “Big Brother,” continuously spying on law-abiding citizens.

Myth: With photo enforcement, owners are guilty until proven innocent.

Myth: Photo enforcement violates the Fourteenth Amendment because it does not provide immediate notice that an offense is alleged.

Myth: Photo-enforcement cameras make too many mistakes.

In addition, a couple of other laws typically ignored…please do not park in “handicapped marked” spaces, otherwise you’re looking at a $300-$400 fine! This also means the areas marked with blue lines. Driving without insurance? The fine can be $1,425! And for 2004, the fines have doubled for not wearing a seat-belt.

Did you also know: It’s not just cell phones that cause us to become so distracted while driving that we have a collision. It’s also old-fashioned “rubbernecking” that is our top driving distraction.

Read the full story here

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