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Splitting Seconds Is Not Catching Scofflaws; It's Harassing Motorists

June 08, 2003

Re "Camera Snaps 442 Traffic Scofflaws," May 28:

It should come as no shock to anyone, including the Santa Ana Police Department, that its new red-light camera system spotted many violations in its first five days of operation.

Red-light cameras are employed to establish violations at a level of precision that far exceeds the enforcement of any other type of infraction, including radar-measured speeding.

Citations are routinely issued for entering an intersection a fraction of a second after the light turns red.

If a vehicle crosses the first line of the crosswalk (the limit line) one-tenth or two-tenths of a second after the light turns red, a citation will be issued with a $300-plus fine attached.

However, since lights are generally set with at least a one-second delay when the light for cross traffic is also red, a one-tenth or two-tenths of a second "violation" poses no hazard whatever for cross traffic.

Legislation is pending in Sacramento to prevent red-light camera abuses by cities and counties seeking new sources of revenue.

Automatically fining a driver $300 for misjudging the length of a yellow light by one-tenth of a second is not accident prevention. It is motorist harassment.

Gordon Smith

Huntington Beach

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