The Red Light Running Crisis
Is it Intentional?

Office of the Majority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Red Light Running Scam
May 2001


2. Red Light Cameras and Revenue



The Report
Summary
1. Something Funny
2. Camera Revenue
3. The Theory
4. The Fact
5. Code Changes
6. Cameras Ineffective
7. Conclusion
8. References


Printed Copy
(200k, PDF format)

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Red light cameras raise a tremendous amount of money for the jurisdictions that use them. It is easier to set up a camera than it is to employ a human being to enforce the law. Consequently, about 50 cities across the country in ten states issue tickets to motorists with red light cameras. And the number of cameras continues to grow.

It's not surprising that local and state governments are jumping at the opportunity to collect revenue from motorists with these devices. Consider the examples below:
  • Washington, D.C. A single camera collected $1 million in revenue. A line item in the city's FY2001 budget assumed there would be $16 million in fines collected from the 37 cameras deployed throughout the city. The Washington Post, May 19, 2000.

  • San Diego, CA. A single camera collected $6.8 million in revenue in 18 months. The 19 camera program as a whole has brought in nearly $30 million in the same period. San Diego Union Tribune, May 5, 2001.

  • Sacramento, CA. The program collects an estimated $800,000 a year. Sacramento Bee, April 16, 2001.

  • Ventura, CA. The program will collect an estimated $3.2 million during its first 12 months. Ventura County Star, March 29, 2001.

  • West Hollywood, CA. The program collects an estimated $4.9 million a year. Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2001

  • Baltimore County, MD. The program has collected $6 million as of January 2001. Baltimore Sun, January 28, 2001.

  • Howard County, MD. The program has collected $4 million from more than 70,000 tickets issued between 1998 to 2000. Baltimore Sun, January 28, 2001.

  • Charlotte, NC. The program will collect over $1 million. Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 4, 2001.

  • New York, NY. In its first full year of operation, the 15 red-light cameras racked up 168,471 tickets, collecting $5,435,815 in fines. Car & Driver, May 1999. “The city last year sent out more than 400,000 tickets to drivers caught on camera running red lights and collected $9 million in revenue, said city Department of Transportation spokesman Thomas Cocola.” New York Post, May 9, 2001.

The fines are trending upward

Consider how fee structures are changing:
  • California. The highest in the nation fine of $271 is collected from motorists and one point is assessed against the driver's license.

  • Montgomery County, MD. “Local officials have asked the state Legislature to approve a fine increase to $250. Current fines in the county are $75 if caught on camera.” USA Today, February 6, 2001.

  • Arizona. The legislature is considering a bill to raise the fine statewide to $250. Phoenix raised a $125 fine to $175, plus two points against the driver's license. Arizona Republic, January 16, 2001.

  • Delaware. The fine was raised from $25 to $75 in July 2000. USA Today, February 6, 2001.


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