Red-light cameras appealing to San Carlos, Redwood City

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After seeing red-light cameras pay off in other Peninsula cities, Redwood City and San Carlos are making plans to install similar enforcement systems at several hot-button intersections.

Redwood City could add cameras in the coming months, according to a report from police Captain Ed Hernandez, at four intersections: eastbound Veterans Boulevard at Whipple Avenue and at Woodside Road; southbound Woodside Road at Veterans Boulevard; and on the Woodside/Broadway/U.S. Highway 101 interchange. Reflex Traffic Systems would install the cameras at $6,200 each, following a City Council vote Monday night.

The report cites an ongoing problem with red-light runners and the difficulty in installing officers at every intersection. Funding for the cameras will come out of the city’s traffic safety fund; money from citations would go back toward that fund.

San Carlos is seeking bids for a red-light enforcement system of its own, Public Works Director Parviz Mokhtari said. Although city officials have not determined where cameras would go or how much the system would cost, Mokhtari said locations suchas where Holly Street meets El Camino Real and Industrial Road are strong possibilities.

Police in both cities have watched San Mateo, Burlingame, Millbrae and Menlo Park put the cameras through their paces.

“They have been a success in other communities … to heighten awareness and to decrease accidents,” San Carlos police Cmdr. Rich Cinfio said, adding that red-light runners cause some of the most serious accidents.

“People will get in a hurry or they’re distracted and run the light, and from my perspective, broadside collisions can be very traumatic and cause serious injury,” Cinfio said.

The cameras photograph any car in the intersection when traffic signals turn red. The photos show the red light, the car, the driver and the license plate, Cinfio said.

In Millbrae, cameras installed at Millbrae Avenue and Rollins Road led to a drastic reduction in red-light citations. In three and a half months, 801 citations were handed out, a staggering reduction from 1,023 citations in four hours tallied during a trial run of the cameras, Millbrae police Sgt. John Aronis said. Once Redwood City’s cameras are installed, Hernandez anticipates it will take 1.2 citations per day for the system to break even, but he expects to see a minimum of three per day.

The typical fee for a red-light violation is $348.50, of which $129.50 would go to Redwood City, Hernandez said. If the cameras nab 12 red-light runners per day, the city could bank $187,010 per year.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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