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Camera Snaps 442 Traffic Scofflaws

Santa Ana site's five-day total is called shocking. For now, the red-light runners get a warning.

May 28, 2003|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

Santa Ana's new red-light camera system spotted 442 violations in its first five days of operation at one intersection, officials said Tuesday.

"I believe that's very shocking," Sgt. Kevin Brown, the traffic officer in charge of the red-light program, said of the violations, which averaged just over 88 per day. "But what's even more shocking is that there weren't any collisions."

The camera system -- installed near the intersection of McFadden Avenue and Harbor Boulevard -- was activated May 19 to crack down on motorists who run red lights. Designed to photograph the license plates and faces of violating drivers, it's the first of about 20 camera systems that will be installed at city intersections during the next 12 months.

"Our goal is to educate people so that there will be a reduction of red-light crashes," Brown said. "Next to head-on collisions, they are the most traumatic bodily injury accident you can have."

Because there is a 30-day grace period, he said, hundreds of drivers identified from the photographs will be sent only warning letters informing them that they were observed by the camera running a red light. Copies of the identifying photographs will be sent as proof, Brown said.

Beginning at 8 a.m. June 19, however, violators will be sent citations and be charged $306. "Obviously we are able to catch a lot more violators this way," Brown said. "Through capturing their pictures, we're able to educate them about the importance of observing red lights."

At least four other Orange County cities -- Costa Mesa, Fullerton, San Juan Capistrano and Garden Grove -- have intersections equipped with cameras, Brown said.

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