Bakersfield, CA Editorial: It’s time to study the effectiveness of red-light cameras

Bakersfield began installing red-light cameras in 2003. Arizona-based Redflex is the private company that maintains and operates the cameras, which the city’s website notes are located at Bernard and Oswell streets; California Avenue and Oak Street; California Avenue, New Stine Road and Stockdale Highway; Chester Avenue and Brundage Lane; Coffee Road and Stockdale Highway; Coffee Road and Truxtun Avenue; Ming Avenue and Valley Plaza; Ming Avenue and Real Road; Ming Avenue and Old River Road; and White Lane and Wible Road.

The promise of snagging red-light runners, reducing injury accidents and saving lives is diminished by complaints about the system’s accuracy and the way red-light running violations are doled out.

The drumbeat of criticism has gotten so loud that many cities across California and the nation have removed their red-light camera systems. In 2010, voters in Houston passed a referendum banning the surveillance program in that city. In 2015, Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, introduced legislation that would have outlawed the installation of new cameras in California and mandated a study of existing ones. Harper’s bill failed to pass the Legislature.

Seven states now are considering legislation to prohibit red-light and speed-camera use. Ironically, one is Redflex’s home state of Arizona.