More on Red Light Cameras

mickey stopNow I’ve got red light camera stats from Fremont and Union City. They couldn’t be more different.

Last year, Fremont, which has cameras at 10 approaches, identified 19,623 potential violations and printed 10,516 tickets.

Union City, which has cameras at eight approaches, identified only 8,517 potential violations and printed 5,601 tickets.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Union City is still considering whether to continue its red light program when its contract exprires this year and Fremont intends to continue.

I don’t have a firm handle on why Fremont is getting so many more violators. All of Union City’s approaches photograph right-turn violators compared to just three for Fremont, so it’s likely not that. 

Last year Union City city had to reject 502 potential tickets due to sun glare and another 467 due to the driver’s face being obstructed or the driver actually ducking from view of the camera. That accounted for more than one in ten potential violations.

Meanwhile, Fremont last year threw out  more than 4,000 potential violations that a retired Fremont cop ruled as invalid offences. A fair number of those apparently were right-turn offences that the cop ruled kosher.

Matt Artz

  • bbox231

    Pure speculation, Matt. . . . but – – - this is a volume game – - put as many cars through an intersection as you can – - – some statistical percentage of those vehicles will “violate” –

    So – drivers in Union City aren’t materially different from drivers in Fremont(in terms of their “red light” behavior – -(and I’ll further speculate that the settings of the yellow lights as well as the interpretation by officers of the ensuing pictures and video applies a comparable “yardstick” ) – so, as evidenced by the ratio of “potential violations” (read – camera “triggers”) to tickets – in round numbers – we look the same e.g., 1 in every 2 “triggers” produces a ticketable offense. . . .

    The BIG difference is the number of “triggers” per camera (read “intersection”) – - which (I’ll guess) relates to the higher number of vehicles per unit-of-time through the intersection, e.g., – Fremont intersections are handling roughly double the number of vehicles per intersection as compared to Union City. . . .

    Now – if you had data about the numbers of vehicles through these intersections – I think you could start to draw some significant conclusions.

  • http://www.highwayrobbery.net/TrcDocsFremontTicketCounts2001-2009recd2010Feb28.xls Watchdog

    From what I have been able to ferret out, Fremont receives about $155 from each $446 ticket which is paid. I have heard 70% of tickets are paid; the remainder dismissed thru community service or not guilty. Therefore, Fremont receives about $110 per every ticket issued. Fremont pays Redflex about $720K per year. 1-2 sworn officers to view videos and testify in court = about $125K in overhead I guess. Fremont needs to issue about 8,000 red light tickets per year to break even. About 6,000 straight thru tickets are issued; about 3-4,000 right turn tickets. About 5 intersection cameras lose money because violations are low. 5 intersections are high or extremely high in violations. Some very similar intersections inexplicably catch only 20% of similar intersections only 1/2 mile away.
    I have the 2008 study of Fremont roadways. Traffic volumes of Mowry and Decoto are in the range 38,000 to 44,000 vehicles per day.

  • http://highwayrobbery.net Henry

    Here’s some more red light camera differences among the Tri-cities.

    Newark and Union City issue Snitch Tickets (the fake tickets designed to fool registered owners into turning in the actual driver), while Fremont does not. (If you do not know what a Snitch Ticket is, Google the term.)

    Newark and Union City have cost-neutral contracts with their red light camera supplier (illegal per CVC 21455.5(g)) while Fremont may not.

  • Watchdog

    I finally have an answer to the riddle of:
    ‘What happened in early 2005 to cause the camera activations at AutoMall and Fremont Blvd to soar from 1 to 2 a day to over 25 a day (overnight!).’

    ANSWER: Redflex went out and replaced the still camera with a video camera. A video camera can photo enforce right turn violations. Voila! Boy, I suspect those folks living in the subdivision just north of AutoMall were surprised!

  • Watchdog

    Why are there so many camera tickets issued at Decoto and Paseo Padre and so few at Decoto and Fremont Blvd?
    Why are there so many camera tickets issued at Mowry and Farwell and so few at Mowry and Blacow??

    These pairs of “sister” intersections are but a 1/2 mile from each other. What is going on?

    Can you find out?

    Chart of Fremont camera tickets:

  • VOR

    Just a guess. Both Decoto/PPP and the Mowry/Farwell have No. 1 lanes that are right turn only.

    The difference is once you turn right off of Decoto and head south on PPP you are in a lane dedicated to that traffic. At Mowry, once you turn right on Farwell you are in a through traffic lane.

    The other two intersections, Decoto/Fmt. Blvd. and Mowry/Blacow have rt. turn islands.

  • volunteer

    hopefully, they are fighting the “real” crimes in Fremont, while using the cameras to police. It’s all good;) Proceed with(the intersections with) caution!….it’s in the DMV handbook…lol

  • Tim Starr

    What’s the process for getting an initiative on the ballot to ban traffic cameras in Fremont? I’ve checked the city’s web site, and can’t find any information about this.

    As for why there are so many violations at Mowry & Farwell but not Mowry and Blacow, the likely reason is that most of the Mowry/Farwell violations are eastbound, with the violators having just come off the freeway. The lights are timed so that if you’re getting off 880 southbound, you always hit the red light at Mowry/Farwell after waiting at the red light at 880/Mowry. The only way to try to avoid this is to speed from 880/Mowry to Mowry/Farwell. That would obviously lead to a lot more violations there. Meanwhile, the light at Mowry/Blacow is synchronized w/ the one at Mowry/Farwell so that if you make Mowry/Farwell you rarely hit the red at Mowry/Blacow.

  • Gus Morrison


    I’m not taking a aide in this argument because I feel there is value in the program, but to answer your question…

    First off, you need to decide in an initiative is even appropriate in this case. You can do an initiative on a legislative action but not an administrative action (one is done by the council and the other by staff without an ordinance.)

    Once you decide it is an appropriate action, you have something like six months to collect the signatures of 10% of the registered voters in Fremont, about 9500+/- signatures, along with a cushion to make sure you have the correct number of valid signatures (40-50%), so you would need to collect about 13,000 signatures. Once they were verified, the council could enact your ordinance or place the issue on the next regularly scheduled council election (November 2012).

    There are more specific steps and you can find them in a booklet published by the Secretary of State about municipal initiative, referendum, and recall. Or, you can find the issue in state law, which is also available on line.

    Initiative is a lot of work. My personal best is 12 signatures an hour, so 13,000 signatures would require about 1000 person hours to collect.

  • Tim Starr

    I bet you could easily get 50 signatures in an hour between 7AM & 8AM in front of the Fremont courthouse, from all the people waiting in line for walk-in traffic court, 4 days a week.