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Adios, Camaras

Adios, CamarasMore yellow caused Santa Clarita officials to see red, which led the city to remove its red-light cameras. Could Bakersfield learn from Santa Clarita's experiment on red light cameras?

After a presentation from a local resident and a safety advocate, the city agreed to an experiment. The yellow light remained at 3.5 seconds at some intersections, while at others, the yellow light stayed on for either 4.0 or 4.5 seconds. The results were almost staggering. A 0.5 second increase reduced red-light camera violations by 58 percent; a 1.0 increase triggered a 71 percent reduction. Almost overnight, the red-light cameras went from a cash cow generating $5 million a year in revenue to a $121,834 net loss.

The City Council voted 3-2 to remove the cameras. Many officials are so pleased with the experiment's results that they may lengthen the yellow lights to 4.9 seconds.

In many cases, there are three very good legal defenses and a convincing equitable defense that can be used in front of a Bakersfield judge.

Many cities time their yellow lights according to the speed limit, as opposed to the average speed, so the yellow light may be a few tenths or one-hundredths of a second too short. This defect can invalidate the ticket, especially if you passed under the signal just as the light turned red. Other times, when stopping at a red light prior to a right-hand turn, especially in certain traffic conditions, a vehicle may stop so briefly that the camera fails to detect it. Nonetheless, the vehicle has made a legal stop, in most circumstances. Finally, the cameras, or the sign announcing that cameras are present, may be obscured.

There are other issues relating to the quality of the picture of the driver, if there were other factors that made running the red light the safest thing to do, that can often lead to a successful defense.