Riverside city councilmember Paul Davis says he welcomes a reevaluation of his city's red light cameras, the money from which could employ three traffic officers, he says. A council vote is expected within a few months and a majority vote could mean lights out for the cameras. Craig Fiegener reports from Riverside for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 20, 2012.
Since 2006, red light cameras have been visible at dozens of Riverside intersections. With them comes the debate over whether they provide public safety, cause more accidents due to drivers stopping suddenly or if they’re an effort to raise extra cash for the city.
Now, city officials are examining the $400,000 annual fee the city pays for the cameras.
"To me, that's worth three traffic officers," said Riverside city councilmember Paul Davis. "Let's fund public safety."
Davis has long been an opponent of the cameras.
"Let's put them out there, some new officers on the street," Davis said.
Davis could get his way. All it would take is a majority vote and 30 days’ notice to the company that installed the cameras.
When they first appeared, the hope was the red light cameras make the roads safer and some people who've received tickets say that might be true.
"I've been a safer driver," said Justin Case. "I don't want to hit someone, because that could ruin my life."
But in the court of public opinion, Case appears to be the exception.
"They flash and they just scare you," said Maria Zarate. "They are a distraction."
Marvin Toms said his ticket was unfair and a waste of time.
"I didn't have to pay it," Toms said. "What a hassle to get a ticket I didn't commit."
The future of the cameras is being studied, along with crash data.
Davis said he welcomes the reevaluation.
"Are we really truly protecting lives?” he said. "A camera doesn't do that."
A council vote is expected within a few months. Until there's a majority vote against them, they'll continue snapping pictures.