Below is a letter Fremont resident and red light camera critic Roger Jones wrote to the City Council. He argues that if Fremont would only lengthen yellow light times, as Newark as done, it would improve safety and reduce the number of red light tickets given to drivers.
Dear Fremont Council Member,
On June 1, 2010, I addressed the City Council concerning the proposal for a new contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, the Red Light Camera vendor for Fremont. In my oral presentation as well as my written presentation, I mentioned the success of Loma Linda, Calif. in reducing red light running by extending their yellow light times by one second over the mandated minimum times.
There is now even more evidence that extending yellow light times is the best way to reduce red light running. That evidence comes from recently released data from our neighbor, Newark.
A report chronicling a 12-month period from Nov. 1, 2009 to Oct. 31, 2010 shows how remarkably few instances of red light running occur in Newark of the straight through type. Newark employs an additional 7/10′s of a second of yellow light time over the mandated minimums; Fremont employs only 1/10 of a second.
Extending yellow light times has the greatest impact on left turn and straight through types of red light running. Violations from right turners occur throughout the red phase and are much less affected by extending yellow light times.
Below is a comparison of straight through violations Fremont vs. Newark.
Camera Location Straight Thru Avg. Daily
Violations Vehicle Volume
Auto Mall & Fremont Blvd 521* 44,000
Auto Mall & Grimmer 556 44,000
Mowry & Blacow 858 46,920
Decoto & Fremont Blvd 323 36,030
Decoto & Paseo Padre 1,214 29,360
Mowry & Fremont Blvd. 1,413 40,515
Mowry & Farwell Dr. 2,672 46,920
Stevenson & Blacow 1,075* 45,360
Mission Blvd & Mohave 1,410*
Mission Blvd & Warm Springs 1,020
* straight through violations have been extrapolated by subtracting right turns violations from total violations.
Mission & Mohave may include an unknown number of left turn violations.
Mowry Ave & Cedar Blvd (1) 217 27,910
Cedar Blvd & Mowry Ave. (2) 26 18,000
Newark Blvd & Jarvis (1) 99 22,155
Newark Blvd & Jarvis (2) 30 22,155
Cherry & Mowry Ave. 189 25,335
Certain estimates of violations are used in the comparison above. Some straight through violations are estimated when the lane serves straight through along with right turn motions. For these few approaches, the straight through portion of violations are estimated to be the same as the neighboring straight through only lane.
Average Daily Vehicle traffic numbers are taken from that segment of roadway surveyed during the most recent Traffic and Engineering Study performed for both Fremont and Newark. The segment of roadways surveyed are usually ½ mile to 2 mile segments and the numbers do not actually reflect the actual total vehicles crossing through the intersection in any of the 4 directions. The numbers are used merely to give a general idea of traffic volumes. Mission Blvd is a Cal Trans managed roadway and Average Daily Traffic volumes have not been obtained.
It is understood that many other factors govern the number of straight through violations such as whether traffic consists of long distance commuters or local drivers. Time of day and economic factors also can affect traffic volumes and violations. I believe these and other possible contributing factors cannot nearly be as important as just the sheer volumes of traffic.
The 5 camera monitored approaches in Newark capture an average of 112 violations per camera per year. The 10 camera monitored approaches in Fremont capture 1,106 violations per camera per year. Even if one projects the Newark averages against the higher volumes of traffic on Fremont roadways, the result still show a 6:1 ratio between these intersections in straight through violations.
Clearly the significance of extending yellow light times is shown. Fremont cameras spot over 11,000 straight through violations while Newark’s cameras spot a mere 561 violations. Fremont: 1,100 violations per camera per year; Newark 115 violations per camera per year. Increase Newark’s averages to equate to Fremont’s higher traffic volumes and still there is a huge disparity; somewhere around 10,000 violations per year.
In Fremont, the total activations for 2010 compared to 2009 did, in fact, show a 4% reduction (a total of 18,903 in 2010). If extending our yellow light times can achieve anywhere near the results shown in Newark, then red light running can be cut in half virtually immediately and violations of the straight through type can be cut by 90%.
Fremont, as do all camera towns, believes that photo enforcement achieves better intersection safety. That is the goal, is it not? Photo enforcement in Fremont using the current yellow light time standards is not reducing the numbers of violations. Sometimes a 5%- 15% reduction is achieved at certain approaches but likewise, sometimes violations go up by similar numbers elsewhere. Overall the numbers are virtually unchanged as we enter the eleventh year of camera enforcement. Any past reductions in rates of violations are no longer being achieved. The numbers of violations have plateaued.
Traffic accident data showing accidents directly related to red light running is elusive and hard to analyze. Common sense should tell us one thing, however: If straight through violations can be cut nearly in half that the numbers of accidents resulting from straight through violations should also decrease in a similar fashion.
Intersections safety is the goal; improving safety is a continuing goal. The City Council, as policy makers, must decide that extending yellow light times is a strategy which cannot be ignored. Realize that this strategy can not only be used at our 10 camera locations but at our other 190 signalized intersections for no additional cost. Safety improvements should be immense. Of course, the economic ramifications need to be addressed but once you make the commitment toward better safety, the other economic concerns can be addressed through better placements of cameras and modifications to terms of the existing contract.
34609 Allegheny Ct.
Fremont, CA 94555
Jan 31, 2011
Fremont Right Turn on Red Report 2010 derived from 4 quarterly reports produced by Fremont Police Dept. (RLC Fremont RTOR 2010.xls)
10 year compilation of camera activations and citations printed derived from Redflex reports and provided by Fremont Police Dept (RLC Fremont Citations Rev 8 x 11.xls.)
cc: Mr. Craig Steckler, Police
Lieut. Tom Mikkelsen, Police
Ms. Geneva Bosques, Police
Mr. Jim Pierson, Transportation Engineering
Mr. David Huynh, Traffic Engineering
Mr. Allen Chen, Traffic Engineering
Mr. Fred Diaz, City Manager