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L.A. red light cameras may double: good, bad?

February 3, 2010 12:57:32 AM PST
Los Angeles drivers in too much of a hurry to stop for red lights are filling the city's coffers with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines each month. Now the city is looking at expanding the red-light cameras that catch violators. Is it an issue of safety or an answer to the city's fiscal crisis? Eyewitness News takes a look at the plan.There are 32 red light cameras posted around the city, and they generate money. According to the city, the fine for running a red light at intersections is $446. All of the cameras combined generate a total of about $400,000 a month in revenue.

"They're just trying to make more money," said Gaby Vasquez, an L.A. resident. "They're trying to find more ways to spend money."

The Los Angeles City Council is looking at expanding the program in part, to raise money.

"I still think we need to roll forward on it and anything that brings in new revenue that we didn't have before is something that I think we should employ," said L.A. City Council member Jan Perry.

The cameras generate revenue, but are the intersections where they have been placed safer? Some council members say they are waiting for data from law enforcement to see if the cameras have reduced accidents.

"The previous vendor went into receivership. It's now taken over by another company," said L.A. City Councilmember Denis Zine. "There's some serious questions and concerns about the red lights so before we do any expansion, we need to get a report back, and wait for a report back from the police department to see exactly where we are."

Some people told Eyewitness News that they hope the city puts safety first, if the program is to be expanded.

"It's good for safety reasons and I hope it's not going to turn like Europe where they have cameras at every corner," said one Los Angeles resident. "You feel insecure about that so it's not right. So hopefully it's for something good and not something negative."

If the red light camera program were to be expanded, indications from the members of the city council say it won't happen until next year.