The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

San Diego Red-Light Cameras Violated California State Law

November 24, 2003

A three-judge panel agreed November 20 that San Diego city officials violated state law when they allowed a private company to operate a red-light camera program without sufficient oversight, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The judges unanimously affirmed a trial judge's ruling two years ago that the city gave Lockheed Martin IMS of Washington, D.C., too much authority over the city's first red-light camera program. State vehicle code provides that "only a governmental agency, in cooperation with a law enforcement agency, may operate an automated enforcement system," and therefore the system was illegal. The city's policy of paying a fee to Lockheed Martin for each conviction also made evidence collected by the cameras' computer systems – the photos themselves – "untrustworthy and unreliable." The decision does not affect the city's current red-light camera system. The city implemented a different red-light enforcement system in June, which city officials said removed the profit motive and added rearview cameras – providing photos of the backs of cars – to create stronger evidence of violations. The program also lengthens the yellow-light intervals at some intersections to at least 3.9 seconds for traffic moving straight through, and 3.4 seconds for left turns. Elsewhere, yellow-light intervals are as short as 3 seconds.
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