California Appeal Court Finds Red Light Cameras Unreliable

Legal controversy continues to dog California’s automated enforcement programs, despite the best effort of state lawmakers to encourage photo ticketing. The second-highest court in California decided Thursday that the red light camera program in Riverside “did not produce reliable evidence” in rejecting the $500 citation that Redflex, a private, for-profit vendor, had mailed to Viktors Andris Rekte.

Rekte, a lawyer, challenged the ticket he received for allegedly making a rolling right turn a split-second after the signal turned red at the intersection of Tyler Street and State Route 91 on October 26, 2012. Rekte argued the charge should be thrown out because the yellow light was illegally short; he was not provided a copy of the video evidence before trial; the photo ticketing vendor set up equipment in a way that obscured the view of the traffic signal; and the evidence produced by Redflex lacked a proper foundation.

Don Teagarden, a city employee, testified that he “reviewed” the ticket that Redflex sent to him. Since Redflex bills its service as a “turn key” operation, Teargarden proved to have little to do with the process. His direct knowledge of the evidence was limited.

“On cross-examination, operator Teagarden acknowledged he could not tell if the monthly inspections of the equipment conducted by Redflex included verification of the time intervals for the signal lights, and did not know if anyone employed by the city of Riverside checked to make sure the system was calibrated properly,” Justice Manuel A. Ramirez wrote for the Court of Appeal majority…

The majority also expressed disapproval of the dangerous state of the intersection and declared the evidence produced by a questionably calibrated device inadmissible.

An inadequate yellow light interval renders a safe stop impossible, and constitutes an emergency justifying the entry into an intersection when the signal turns red,” Justice Ramirez wrote… (more)

Longer yellow lights make crossing intersections safer for everyone. All modes should be able to judge how long they have to pass through an intersection when the light turns yellow, including pedestrians. The lack of consistency in the yellow light program leads to confusion and panic, which causes more accidents.

 

 

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