SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s a controversial technology that has neighbors around the county concerned, but experts say the red-light cameras are working.
“If we can effectively save lives are utilizing this technology, we as an organization think they’re worth it,” said Sgt. Shaun Hampton with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
New numbers now show crashes in intersections with red-light cameras have dramatically dropped.
The red light camera program started in 2000.
“They’re effective” Hampton added.
The cameras snap pictures of red-light runners as they cross the line and send drivers a ticket.
“They have an impact on traffic and how people drive,” he said.
They’re trying to prevent deadly crashes like one where a driver in Rancho Cordova hit and killed a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The September crash happened at an intersection not equipped with a red light camera.
“He ran a red light and was driving at really excessive speeds,” Hampton said.
So just how effective are they?
In total, there were 621 traffic collisions in the intersections before the cameras. That fell to 82 in 2016 and there were only 50 last year.
Of the 25 red-light camera intersections, this may be the most impressive. There were 81 crashes on Calvine Road before the cameras went in. Last year there were only 5.
The fine for running red lights is stiff. In 2017 there were more than 15,000 citations issued in Sacramento. With tickets costing $480 each that adds up to more than $7 million in possible fines.
“Cities have gotten hooked on the money,” said Jim Lissner, activists against the red light cameras.
Opponents like Lissner aren’t convinced the cameras really help.
He says cities like Stockton and Los Angeles abandoned their red light programs.
“They found that for the most part, it doesn’t make a difference,” he said.
Others appreciate the cameras accomplishments.
“I think they’re a good idea because at the end of the day it’s a safety that matters and that’s the most important thing,” said Joseph Benton of Sacramento.