The number of San Francisco injury collisions caused by red-light jumpers has dropped by more than half over the past decade, says the San Francisco Chronicle. It is a dramatic decrease that officials attribute in part to cameras mounted at nearly two dozen treacherous intersections. “The cameras aren’t the panacea, but they certainly help,” said Bond Yee, the city’s director of parking and traffic. He said public education and old-fashioned police enforcement also contribute to the reduction of red-light violations. In 1998 – the year after the first red-light cameras were mounted at a handful of intersections – the number of reported injury crashes involving red-light violations was 773. In 2006, the number was 374.
The city has 28 cameras, which are rotated among 23 intersections. At any time, some units that house the cameras are empty because the city does not have enough money to supply cameras at each location. The trick is to keep drivers from knowing which intersections have working cameras. The city plans to equip 10 more intersections in the next few years. The red-light program comes with a hefty price tag – approximately $300,000 per intersection to pay for engineering, construction and equipment. New digital cameras alone cost more than $40,000 apiece.