• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

LAPD: Red-light camera report was flawed

March 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The LAPD wants to set the record straight on red-light cameras. The department released its own analysis of the cameras. The debate was sparked by a report that the cameras may actually increase accidents. It is the photo of yourself that you never want: going through that red light. In traffic court, Frederick Hagen tried to fix a costly ticket.

Complaints are plentiful but one in particular got the attention of the police commission.

A media report claimed red-light cameras caused more accidents than they prevented. Motorists say they've seen it themselves.

Safety was always the point. Many cities, including Los Angeles, installed the cameras, prompted by a video showing crash after crash caused by drivers running red lights. The video comes from American Traffic Solutions, the traffic-camera company contracted by Los Angeles.

But what about accidents after installation? The media report analyzed data from LAPD's own records. It found significant increases in rear-end collisions after the cameras were installed.

Yet Tuesday, the LAPD issued its own analysis. The media report allegedly had statistical flaws. It didn't include enough data. And it mistakenly included accidents unrelated to lights. LAPD's conclusion:

"Looking at the data we were able to determine that collisions at our 32 intersections have decreased by 9 percent," said LAPD Sergeant Matthew MacWillie.

The intersection at Venice and Grand is a prime example. Red-light runners there are a persistent hazard. There was a fatal accident there in 2005. The camera was installed, and not a single fatal accident since then.

LAPD says the red-light tickets don't make money for the city. The city loses revenue because of maintenance and other costs.

"It is not about money. It is about safety," said MacWillie. "You can't put a price on human life."