Sheriff’s deputies using West Hollywood’s red light photo enforcement program, an updated version of which went live in March, may begin ticketing drivers who make illegal right turns at stop lights as well as those spotted running through them.
A report on the system will be presented tonight to the city’s Public Safety Commission, which will discuss the proposal to use the system to enforce the law prohibiting a driver from making a right turn at red light without stopping first.
The city agreed in 1999 to install a system in which cameras could capture images of vehicles running through red lights. The cameras were installed initially at six intersections and then at 24 approaches to eight intersections on major streets and boulevards such as Santa Monica, Beverly, Robertson and Fountain. According to the city’s report, generated by the Department of Public Works, the program has been successful in reducing accidents and violations in concert with other steps such as installing “count down” pedestrian indicators at traffic light signals and high visibility “zebra” style crosswalks.
By 2015 it was clear that the city’s old system was outmoded. For example, the photos it took used old-fashioned film that had to be developed using liquid chemicals rather than the digital photography process used today. The city dismantled that system and became installing a new one last year, which was in place and working late last year and early this year.
The city also analyzed the eight intersections where red light cameras had been installed to determine which, after other improvements had been in place, still needed them. The new red light system now is active at eight intersections:
— La Brea at Fountain (northbound)
— La Brea at Fountain (southbound)
— Beverly at Robertson (eastbound)
— Beverly at Robertson (westbound)
— La Brea at Santa Monica (eastbound)
— La Brea at Santa Monica (northbound)
— La Cienega at Melrose (northbound)
— La Cienega at Melrose (southbound)
The old system was used by law enforcement officers to identify cars that drive straight through an intersection while the light was red. But they didn’t pursue those who turned right at red lights without stopping because it was assumed they were moving at slower speeds and posing less of a hazard. The new cameras, however, can take videos which have alerted officers to more dangerous situations involving right turns on red. During a 30-day period ending on April 11 deputies saw 250 incidents in which motorists made right turns on red, about 100 of which involved vehicles driving at or over 15 miles an hour.
Because of that, the Sheriff’s Department proposes ticketing people who make right turns on red if their vehicle exceeds 15 miles an hour or 10 miles an hour if the department finds other safety concerns.
The Public Safety Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. today in the conference room on the first floor of City Hall, 625 Santa Monica Blvd. at Sweetzer.