Missouri’s Lembke – Senate Bill 211, Stop Red Light Cameras

February 2, 2009

Senator Jim Lembke Introduces
His First Bills in Missouri Senate
Hopeful Senate Bill 211 Will Result in Stopping
Usage of Red Light Cameras

— State Senator Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, introduced one of his
priority bills on the Senate floor yesterday (1/20). Senate Bill 211 would prohibit cities from using automated red light cameras to enforce traffic violations. “These ‘red light’ cameras are being used as revenue enhancers within municipalities and profit out-of-state companies,”
Sen. Lembke said. “The cameras can’t prove who’s driving the vehicle, and many people argue this method of traffic enforcement disregards a
person’s Fifth Amendment rights and forces self-incrimination. This is an example of big government and ‘Big Brother’ at its worst.”

While the starting salary for a commissioned St. Louis police officer is $37,514 a year, one red light camera costs around $56,000 a year to operate. Senator Lembke also introduced Senate Bill 210, Senate Joint Resolution 9, Senate Joint Resolution 10, and Senate Joint Resolution 11 on the Senate floor.

“I am hopeful these bills will make it onto the governor’s desk,” Sen. Lembke said. “While all of these items are important to me, SB 211 is one of my priorities this year.”

End of Story

From Guy Midkiff:
The primary argument for the devices, “safety”, simply is not accurate. In every incident where entities have proclaimed miraculous increases in accident statistics, there has been significant evidence of bias and a flawed application of analytical processes. Municipalities have sometime entered into unholy alliances with red light camera companies where greed and profit have become the corner stone of their existence. Also, insurance companies – the usual generator of statistical “studies,” stand to add millions to their bottom lines, not to mention how much red light camera companies and municipalities can add to balance sheets and general revenue funds. Follow the money if you really want to know the truth about red light camera operations.

Your bill makes no mention of standards for camera installation and in fact there is no federal or state standard for intersection design criteria. In Washington, where we have two intersections with cameras, the yellow light length is 4.01 seconds – regardless of the approach speed. If anyone is serious about intersection safety then the first step is to match yellow light length with approach speeds.

If you look at data collected as a result of fatalities at intersections, what you will find is the real culprit for “deep red” light penetrations is caused by distraction and impairment. NO red light camera can stop this; they can only record the accident aftermath. It is also interesting to note that rear end collisions increase dramatically as local drivers are trained to brake aggressively at the first hint of a yellow light. They will do anything to avoid a $100 ticket, and when automobiles with dissimilar braking capabilities brake aggressively, the results are often disastrous.

Sincerely yours,

Guy Midkiff
City Council
Ward III
Washington, Mo.


December 30, 2008

Today the City of Houston released a damning report of its 70 Red Light Cameras despite the spin of the report’s author Robert Stein–the husband of the Mayor’s agenda director Marty Stein (City salary $97,000.00).  Robert Stein’s specialty is not in engineering, safety or statistics, but in political science.
Despite the affiliation with the Mayor Robert Stein’s report shows not only that Red Light Camera approach accidents have increased but the accident rates at the other approaches at the same Red Light Camera intersections increased a whopping 133%–an alarming statistic.
Houston’s dangerous finding’s mirrors the dangerous effect of Red Light Cameras in other jurisdictions (see below).
The City has refused to release the accident rate data for the whole city so any comparison can be done while contemplating adding 125 more red light cameras.
The City currently claims yearly fines totaling around $8 million but says that its not about the money.
Randall Kallinen a lawyer who hold a BS in Chemistry and Paul Kubosh a lawyer specializing in traffic offenses calls for an end to the dangerous Red Light Camera experiment in Houston.
Contact: Randall Kallinen; 713/320-3785;  Email: attorneykallinen@aol.com
Paul Kubosh; 281/850-0171
Washington Post: Red Light Cameras Increase Accidents
Analysis of accident data shows accidents doubled at intersections with red light cameras in the District of Columbia.
Since the District of Columbia installed its first red light camera in 1999, The Washington Post has championed use of photo enforcement technology on both its editorial and news pages. Now, five years into the program, the District’s largest newspaper has discovered that accidents are up significantly as a result of their use.
A comparison of accidents at camera intersections before and after they were installed produced the following results:
Accident Type 1998 2004 Change
Broadside 81 106 +30%
Fatal/Injury 144 262 +81%
Overall  365 755 +107%
The accident doubling effect is not a statistical anomaly, happening in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004. In 2003 accidents did increase, but by less than 100 percent.
Camera proponents often argue that the devices create a “halo effect” that spreads improved driving habits throughout the city, including intersections where red light cameras are not installed. In the District, accidents increased citywide by 61 percent. Camera-free intersections experienced an additional 64 percent in accidents overall, a 54 percent increase in fatal and serious injury accidents and a 17 percent rise in t-bone collisions.
In total, the city’s photo enforcement program has issued two million red light and speed camera tickets worth $151 million.
DC police have never studied the accident data and do not dispute the Post’s findings.
Key Statistic:
The analysis shows that the number of crashes at locations with cameras more than doubled, from 365 collisions in 1998 to 755 last year. Injury and fatal crashes climbed 81 percent, from 144 such wrecks to 262. Broadside crashes, also known as right-angle or T-bone collisions, rose 30 percent, from 81 to 106 during that time frame.
Article Date: 7/5/2007
Title: 2007 Virginia DOT Report Shows Red Light Cameras Increase Accidents
Subtitle: A new Virginia Department of Transportation study shows accidents increased by nearly a third where red light cameras were used.
The Virginia Transportation Research Council today released a report expanding upon earlier research into the safety effects of red light cameras in Virginia. The new study, funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, provided a city-by-city assessment that showed significant increases in the number of injuries and accidents at intersections employing photo enforcement.
The change in the frequency of injury accidents varied widely among jurisdictions — down 5 percent in one but up between 6 and 89 percent in all others. Even within a jurisdiction some intersections fared better than others. In Fairfax County, for example, the total number of crashes increased at every intersection with a camera, except for one — Route 50 and Fair Ridge. VDOT increased the duration of the yellow light from 4 seconds to 5.5 seconds on August 12, 1998. Research by the Texas Transportation Institute confirmed that longer yellows yield significant accident reductions. Overall, the data in the VTRC report painted a grim picture consistent with prior, independent investigations.
“The cameras were associated with an increase in total crashes. Arlington and Fairfax County saw significant increases, Falls Church and Vienna saw non significant increases, and Fairfax City saw a nonsignificant decrease.”
Although it is now widely accepted that red light cameras are associated with increases in the number of rear end collisions, the VTRC report did not solely attribute the overall increase in accidents and injuries to this type of collision. Angle collisions also increased.
“Cameras were associated with an increase of between 31 percent and 54 percent for rear-end crashes overall,” the report found. “The association of the cameras with angle crashes differed among jurisdictions, although a preponderance of test results suggested an increase.”
Contrary to industry claims, this was not a temporary phenomenon.
“The cameras were not associated with a decrease in rear-end crashes over time after the initial increase that followed camera installation,” the report found.
Red light cameras were authorized in Virginia between 1995 and 2005. After a two year battle with municipal lobbyists and the insurance industry, the Virginia state legislature re-authorized the use of red light cameras. The law took effect July 1. The full text of the study is available in a 1mb PDF file at the source link below.
Source: The Impact of Red Light Cameras on Crashes in Virginia (Virginia Transportation Research Council, 7/5/2007)
Permanent Link for this item http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/18/1844.asp


December 30, 2008

In August, 2008, Rice University, at the City of Houston’s request, finished a public safety report of Houston’s Red Light Camera intersections and found that ACCIDENTS INCREASED at Houston’s Red Light Camera intersections since installation of the controversial cameras !  The City and Rice University have refused to release the report and the City has directed Rice University to change the safety report.
After multiple failed requests to Mayor Bill White, Rice University Professor Robert Stein, the Houston Police Department and the Houston City Secretary to release the August 2008 Rice University Red Light Camera Report today Randall Kallinen and Paul Kubosh filed a lawsuit in a Houston state court under the Texas open records laws to get this important public safety information to Houston citizens.
The City’s failure to let the public see the August 2008 report is inexcusable.  It is clearly an open record and the public needs to see the report to make informed decisions whether to continue the privately run Red Light Camera system costing Houston citizens tens of millions of dollars.
Randall Kallinen and Paul Kubosh and well-known media lawyer Joe Larsen will speak today to discuss their lawsuit.

DATE: Today, December 26, 2008, 3:00 pm.
PLACE: Rice University entrance (corner of Main and Sunset)
Contact: Randall Kallinen; 713/320-3785;  Email: attorneykallinen@aol.com
Paul Kubosh; 281/850-0171

Countermeasures to Reduce RLC Running

December 14, 2008

TxDOT Report 4027-2Engineering Countermeasures to Reduce Red-Light-Running, James Bonneson, Karl Zimmerman, and Marcus Brewer. This report describes the evaluation of several engineering countermeasures to red-light-running as well as guidelines for selecting appropriate countermeasures and evaluating their performance.

Summary of report conclusions:

  • Add LED lighting (49 % reduction).
  • Increase yellow interval duration (70 % reduction).
  • Add back plates and increase yellow interval duration (18% reduction).
  • Add back plates and add LED lighting to yellow indications (35% reduction).

St. Louis aldermen avoid red-light camera fines

December 14, 2008
St. Louis aldermen avoid red-light camera fines
A car registered to Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe is cited for failing to come to a complete stop on a right turn on red Jan. 24. on Grand Blvd.

A car registered to Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe is cited for failing to come to a complete stop on a right turn on red Jan. 24. on Grand Blvd.

ST. LOUIS — When the push to install red-light cameras came to City Hall in 2005, the Board of Aldermen enthusiastically backed the plan as a boon to public safety.

But now, three years later, aldermen have themselves been caught on tape — and some have avoided the $100 fine.

In total, at least eight St. Louis aldermen have been sent camera citations, about a quarter of the board. The lead sponsor of the camera legislation went months without paying $500 in fines until questioned about it recently. Two other aldermen got their citations dismissed under ambiguous circumstances.

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Alderman Stephen Gregali forwarded his ticket to the police chief’s office — which dismissed the ticket without investigating. Another alderman, Gregory Carter, said he got his ticket dismissed by calling a phone number on the back.

After learning about the dismissed tickets from the Post-Dispatch, Mayor Francis Slay’s office warned the Police Department about “special favors for anyone.”

“If someone wants to pay or contest a ticket,” the mayor’s spokesman, Ed Rhode, said, “he should go through the same process as any other citizen.”

The mayor’s office said it could not provide any information for Carter’s or Gregali’s tickets other than to confirm the citations were issued and dismissed.

Gregali represents the Bevo Mill neighborhood in south St. Louis, and co-sponsored legislation that allowed traffic cameras in the city.

Gregali said he received a ticket a few months ago and thought it should be thrown out because the light turned while he was in the intersection.

Most drivers who want to contest a red-light camera ticket must plea their case in traffic court. Instead, Gregali forwarded his ticket to the police chief’s office.

“At the time, I did not expect to receive special treatment,” Gregali said in an e-mail to the Post-Dispatch. “I have since learned the ticket was dismissed without cause. That was not my intention. Therefore, it is my intention to pay the ticket.”

It’s unclear how Gregali would pay a ticket that already has been adjudicated, just as it is unclear how the ticket was dismissed in the first place. The private company that administers the camera program does not track dismissed tickets.

Gregali says he is not sure exactly when he sought assistance from the police chief’s office, nor does he remember who he spoke with in the office.

“I asked somebody, ‘Hey, what do you do with these things?'” if you don’t think you are guilty, Gregali said in an interview.

Chief Joe Mokwa resigned July 25 amid a separate controversy surrounding a towing contract that currently is the subject of a federal probe. Lt. Col. Stephen Pollihan took over on a temporary basis after Mokwa left.

A message sent to Mokwa’s attorney was not returned; Pollihan was on vacation last week.

According to the mayor’s office, the Police Department asked that the ticket be placed on the “void docket” in city court, which contains offenses that are wiped from the system.

“The chief’s office did not review the ticket to determine whether there was cause for it to be dismissed,” Rhode said.

The mayor’s office said it couldn’t determine whether the request was made while Mokwa was in charge or during Pollihan’s tenure, from the end of July to early October. The ticket was dismissed before the current chief, Dan Isom, took office Oct. 6.

A spokeswoman for Isom said he “will not tolerate” police helping anyone, including city officials, get a ticket dismissed without a good reason.

Isom “will not allow the department to serve as a ‘middleman’ by forwarding any red-light ticket to the court in the future,” said department spokeswoman Erica Van Ross.

The dismissed ticket was not Gregali’s only red-light camera violation. On Oct. 9, he was cited for failing to come to a complete stop on a right turn on red at the intersection of Kingshighway and Southwest Avenue. That ticket has been paid.

Gregali’s dismissed ticket is not the only one raising questions at City Hall. Alderman Carter, who represents the city’s Walnut Park area, says he was mailed a citation last year, when a relative using his car was cited at a traffic light.

Unlike conventional traffic tickets, red-light camera violations are sent to the registered owner of the car making the violation, not necessarily the driver. If a car owner was not driving the car at the time, he can fill out an affidavit indicating who was at the wheel.

Carter says he merely called a phone number on the back of the ticket and, after some haggling, got the ticket dismissed.

“Talked to him for about 15 minutes and it was taken care of,” Carter said. “You can call anybody to contest anything.”

Carter said he did not identify himself as an alderman and doesn’t remember who was on the other end of the call.

But officials with the private company that administers the city’s camera program, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions Inc., said it’s not possible to get a ticket dismissed by calling the number on the back of the ticket, which is a corporate help line.

“The toll-free number is to customer service to answer basic questions,” said Josh Weiss, the company’s director of communications and public affairs. “ATS does not have the authority to dismiss tickets.”

The mayor’s office said it could not determine what happened to Carter’s ticket.

Carter contends that even if he hadn’t gotten the ticket dismissed, the city does not have the ability to make him pay.

Since the number of red-light cameras across the region has increased in the last several years, a growing number of officials, including Gov.-elect Jay Nixon, the state attorney general, have questioned whether the devices would pass court scrutiny.

No state law authorizes the cameras, and some experts have questioned whether they violate due process laws.

Because most red-light cameras take a picture only of the car, not the driver, it’s difficult for cities to make people pay.

“I got a lot of calls from my constituents, and I told them there is nothing enforceable about it,” Carter said. “Police are not going to take you to jail if they pull you over. There is no warrant.”

But the mayor’s office says the city can, after a second notice for a camera violation, issue a warrant for failing to appear in court.

If so, one person who could be eligible for a warrant is Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe, who received a ticket more than 10 months ago at the intersection of Grand Boulevard and Forest Park Avenue.

Troupe, a critic of red-light cameras who has sponsored legislation to remove the devices, has ignored the ticket and says he won’t pay it.

“I think the lights are morally wrong, financially exploitative and sinful,” Troupe says. “I don’t intend to pay a fine until I am ordered to do so by the court.”

Others city lawmakers were more amenable.

“I looked at the video,” said Alderman Stephen Conway, whose van was cited for failing to stop on a right turn on red. “I had a hard time arguing that one with a straight face.”

Conway, though, says his wife was driving at the time.

Alderman Matt Villa paid his fine after running a red light downtown. Villa said he worries that, as the cameras expand in the city, the emphasis will move from safety to money. The city keeps about $69 of each $100 fine, with the rest going to American Traffic Solutions. Through July 2008, some 80,000 tickets had been issued.

Last year, the company had 17 cameras in St. Louis. Today, there are 50 at various intersections around the city — 26 of them south of Highway 40, and 24 north.

“My fear is that these are going to turn into revenue generators instead of what the program was originally sold to the Board of Aldermen as,” Villa said. “If we continue to add cameras, then we’ve changed the focus from public safety.”

Among aldermen, there is no greater advocate for the cameras than Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. — and nobody whose car has racked up more in fines. A car registered to his home address in the Third Ward had five tickets, including citations on back-to-back days in June.

Bosley, chairman of the board’s Streets Committee, said he did not know about the violations. They were, he says, accrued by his 20-year-old daughter using the car.

He paid the fines Friday, well past the due date, after a reporter asked about them. Still, Bosley said he wasn’t “going to pick up the telephone and call somebody and give me a break for something that my child did that is wrong.”

“I can’t do that,” Bosley said. “That’s not fair.”

jwagman@post-dispatch.com | 314-622-3580

Conflicts of Interest

December 14, 2008

Many pro RLC supporters will refer to the U.S Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, or the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration for information supporting the use of cameras Most of that research into red light cameras invariably leads back to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Richard Retting. As author of many IIHS reports and studies, Retting is a senior transportation engineer for IIHS. He has even been called the “father of the red-light camera movement” in the United States. Most federal reports and information usually comes from this group, or from studies or reports funded by this group under other names. They testify at any and every hearing into RLCs that they are an imperative safety improvement. They maintain a large clearinghouse of reports and information touting the benefits of red light cameras, including the California Oxnard studies cited by Commissioner Schnell.

Noble cause to save lives? The IIHS is an organization financed and supported exclusively by the insurance industry. Thier data collection is subjective, and selective, exemplified by many things: ……

Full Story

Red Light Camera Research

December 14, 2008

  • A 2007 Virginia Department of Transportation study found:
    “The cameras were associated with an increase in total crashes… The aggregate EB results suggested that this increase was 29%… The cameras were associated with an increase in the frequency of injury crashes… The aggregate EB results suggested an 18% increase, although the point estimates for individual jurisdictions were substantially higher (59%, 79%, or 89% increases) or lower (6% increase or a 5% decrease).”
    Read a summary
    PDF Version Full copy, 1mb pdf

  • A 2006 Winnipeg, Canada city audit found:
    “The graph shows an increase of 58% in the number of traffic collisions from 2003 to 2004…. Contrary to long-term expectations, the chart shows an increase in claims at each level of damage with the largest percentage increase appearing at the highest dollar value.”
    Read a summary
    PDF Version Full copy, 541k pdf

  • A 2005 Virginia DOT study found:
    “The cameras are correlated with an increase in total crashes of 8% to 17%.”
    Read a summary
    PDF Version Full copy, 1.7mb pdf

  • In 2005, The Washington Post found:
    “The analysis shows that the number of crashes at locations with cameras more than doubled, from 365 collisions in 1998 to 755 last year. Injury and fatal crashes climbed 81 percent, from 144 such wrecks to 262. Broadside crashes, also known as right-angle or T-bone collisions, rose 30 percent, from 81 to 106 during that time frame.”
    Read a summary
    Full article on the Post website

  • A 2004 North Carolina A&T University study found:
    “Our findings are more pessimistic, finding no change in angle accidents and large increases in rear-end crashes and many other types of crashes relative to other intersections.”
    Read a summary
    PDF Version Full copy, 1.7mb pdf

  • A 2003 Ontario Ministry of Transportation study found:
    “Compared to the average number of reported collisions occurring in the before period, the average yearly number of reported collisions increased 15.1 per cent in the after period.”
    Read a summary
    PDF Version Full copy, 1.5mb pdf

  • A 1995 Australian Road Research Board study found:
    “The results of this study suggest that the installation of the RLC at these sites did not provide any reduction in accidents, rather there has been increases in rear end and adjacent approaches accidents on a before and after basis and also by comparison with the changes in accidents at intersection signals.”
    Read a summary
    PDF Version Full copy, 2.4mb pdf

  • A 1995 Monash University (Australia) study found:
    “a simple correlation analysis was undertaken for red light running data in the current study and revealed no significant relationship between the frequency of crashes at RLC and non-RLC sites and differences in red light running behaviour.”
    Read a summary
  • A 2004 Texas Transportation Institute study found:
    “An increase in yellow duration of 1.0 seconds is associated with a [crash frequency] of about 0.6, which corresponds to a 40 percent reduction in crashes.”
    Read a summary
    PDF Version Full copy, 1.5mb pd
  • A 2001 report by the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives found:
  • “The changes in the yellow signal timing regulations have resulted in the inadequate yellow times. And these inadequate yellow times are the likely cause of almost 80 percent of red light entries.”Full Text