• Jun 13, 2013


Red light cameras have become a popular traffic control tool across the country over the past few years, and as their use has grown so has pushback from motorists. A woman in San Francisco recently fought and had her red light ticket thrown out on a technicality -- a technicality that could cost the city of Newark, Calif., millions of dollars.

Keisha Dunlevy was issued a ticket in Newark for allegedly running a red light. In traffic court Dunlevy argued that the public hadn't been properly notified of the red light cameras at that intersection. A notice did run in the newspaper in November of 2006, but contained an error. "A camera has been installed at the intersection of Cedar Boulevard and Mowry Avenue to capture vehicles that run the red light as they travel east on both streets," the notice read. Cedar Boulevard, however, runs north and south.

The traffic commissioner ruled in Dunlevy's favor, sparing her the $500 fine and opening the door to millions of dollars worth of tickets being challenged. Roger Jones, a red light camera activist, told CBS San Francisco that Newark should refund all the tickets issued from cameras at this intersection from the last six years.

"I do hope that this motivates other people to always check into their ticket," Dunlevy told CBS San Francisco. "[Don't] just take it because the officer said it was wrong."

The effectiveness of red light cameras as a safety measure has been called into question numerous times in the recent past. The reality is only 2% of auto fatalities occur due to cars not stopping at red lights, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

A 2011 study suggests red light cameras can actually cause more accidents, as drivers slam on their brakes rather than speed through yellow lights that might net them a ticket. Intersections with red light cameras also tend to have shorter yellow lights, sometimes shorter then the state minimum, as was recently the case in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Critics maintain that red light cameras are less about keeping the public safe and more about generating revenue.


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  • 495 Comments
      Henry
      • 1 Year Ago
      To "Hello Bob" and "KGProduction" who chanted "Don't run the red light:" So, I guess you guys never make technical violations of the Vehicle Code. Never a mile over the limit, never a lane change or turn w/o signaling. The rest of us make mistakes, and we will never stop making those mistakes no matter how heavy you make the enforcement, because we are human and not robots. Someday there will be robots doing the driving, and they probably won't make the mistake we humans do. They'll make other mistakes, like not figuring out the unique road conditions that we humans encounter, and deal with, every day. Until robots are doing the driving, it is unfair to ticket drivers for being 1/10 of a second late at a signal. Those who support that sort of enforcement must be unthinking robots. Then there are the commenters who say that it was wrong for Keisha to use a technicality to escape from a ticket. I say that what's fair for the goose is fair for the gander. The city is using a technicality to issue tickets that would never be issued by a live officer, so a motorist should be able to use a perfectly legal defense to get rid of the ticket. That's how our legal system works.
      • 1 Year Ago
      What does her knowing there was a camera there or not have to do with it? She broke the law. Am I allowed to rob a bank unless someone states in advance that there is a cop there?
      • 1 Year Ago
      She was fortunate because of that technicality, however, she still put other peoples' lives at risk by running a red light. She must feel so accomplished in life by now.
      anandaone
      • 1 Year Ago
      "I do hope that this motivates other people to always check into their ticket," Dunlevy told CBS San Francisco. "[Don't] just take it because the officer said it was wrong." ________________________________ Ummm.... seriously? This was a matter of you being able to exploit a loophole, not that you weren't wrong.
      muser555
      • 1 Year Ago
      These cameras are dangerous. I've seen people either slam on their breaks only to be rear-ended or speed like a demon through the light in order not to get a ticket. NOT SAFE AT ALL!
      • 1 Year Ago
      These cameras have been used all over the world for more than thirty years; yes, long before digital photography. My father got a red light ticket in Frankfurt, Germany in 1975. They are not primarily to make money, but to reduce injuries, loss of life and property damage. There is abundant date to show that this is the impact and result. Only in the U.S. can you sue / fight/ have your day in court on virtually anything. That is a wonderful thing. It is also problematic as it allows someone totally guilty to get over, like in this case. This is why we have so many more lawyers than in any other country in the world. It's wonderful to have the freedom and the options we have; too bad it results in so many people trying to get over and get away with things. This woman knew she was guilty and got away with it.
      • 1 Year Ago
      This person ran a red light and even tho only 2 % of fatalities are caused by someone running a red light, how would you like to have a loved one in that 2%. How many times have one of us almost been smacked by some nutso in a hurry ignoring traffic laws? Just take responsibility for your actions and make the world a better place.
      acadiandfs
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't think its costing the state anything, at least not anything it deserves. As the piece implies, these cameras should not be a source of revenue. Ideally, they are there to prevent wrongdoing. Therefore, if they actually worked, no revenue would be generated anyway. Once again, it all boils down to irresponsible people making life difficult, dangerous, and onerous for everyone else.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I got an idea....stop at the red light, idiot!!
      turk182sh
      • 1 Year Ago
      Its the fairy tales that has come true. Look, its the Goose that laying the "Golden Eggs" (money) for these cities. They could care less about safety.
      jj2301
      • 1 Year Ago
      Red light camera are about farming the public for dollars. Recent news of cities and camera vendors playing fast and loose with yellow light timing, to include making the yellow light too short to allow for reaction and stoppage time only serve to bear out the obvious: This is *not* about safety. In fact, numerous traffic safety experts assert that doing the opposite (lengthening yellow lights) would give an added margin of safety.
      David
      • 1 Year Ago
      Holy crap....500 bucks for running a red light!!!!!
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