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Media Report: Oceanside, California Red-Light Cameras

North County Times
Minor rear-end accidents increase since red-light cameras installed
By: PAUL SISSON – Staff Writer
April 22, 2005

OCEANSIDE —- Rear-end accidents have increased at one Oceanside intersection since the city installed its first red-light cameras Jan. 10.

Lt. Rick Sing, the Oceanside police officer who oversees the department’s traffic enforcement division, recapped the first three months of operation for the city’s two red-light camera installations at a city Police and Fire Commission meeting Thursday night.

The cameras are at College and Oceanside boulevards and at Canyon Drive and Mission Avenue.

Sing told commissioners that from Jan. 10 through Mar. 31 there were eight rear-end accidents at Oceanside and College boulevards, up from only one during the same time in 2004.

Sing said the eightfold increase in rear-end accidents may be because drivers hit the brakes when they think a light is about to turn red to avoid having their picture taken.

“They begin to get a little jittery about making a stop,” Sing said.

He said the rear-end accidents at Oceanside and College were not as severe as head-on or side-impact collisions that are sometimes the result of running a red light.

“These are minor accidents,” Sing said.

By comparison, Sing said rear-end accidents decreased at Canyon Drive and Mission Avenue. According to data presented Thursday night, there were two rear-end collisions at that intersection during the first three months of 2004 and only one during the same period in 2005.

Sing also released figures detailing the number of citations issued in the first three months of the cameras’ operation.

According to the Police Department, it had issued 2,530 citations since the cameras started snapping pictures. An additional 753 motorists had their pictures taken at the two intersections but had their citations thrown out for various reasons. According to data Sing provided to the commission, the largest number of tickets —- 198 —- were dismissed because the sun’s glare masked a driver’s identity or obscured the number on a vehicle’s license plate. An additional 144 drivers got off because their vehicles was partially obstructed from view and 136 walked away with no ticket because their license plates were obscured.

To date Sing said the department has received no revenue from the tickets, though it has been billed $71,378 by Redflex Inc., which installs, runs and maintains the cameras.