Despite Huge Financial Losses, L.A. Renews Traffic-Camera Program

Published May 31, 2016

Los Angeles County announced it will renew its “red-light traffic” camera program. The automatic fine and ticket mailing program costs L.A. taxpayers $3.9 million annually while generating only $1.3 million in revenues.

The program has generated scrutiny not only because of the wide disparity between costs and revenues but also revelations only 45 percent of drivers issued traffic tickets through the program actually pay the fines for running stop signs. 

Those who opt to pay must dig deep for the $476 ticket—$540 if the violator chooses to attend traffic school in order to avoid a hike in his or her insurance premium—and a potential additional $300 10-day-late fee.

56,000 Unresolved Tickets

The cameras were first installed in 2006 at 32 intersections. Since then, the number of tickets issued through the program has risen from 14,000 to 59,000 per year.

Of this total, 56,000 have not been resolved, according to a public briefing given by Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Michael Moore this past December. Moore asserted the L.A. courts don’t communicate information about scofflaws to the Department of Motor Vehicles, which could suspend drivers’ licenses of violators who neglect to pay tickets.

City Controller Wendy Greuel released an audit of the program this past fall in which it was revealed officers were “not adequately compiling statistics at the 32 intersections where red light cameras are installed, making it difficult to conclude whether they are effective.”

Gruel had issued a report in 2006 concluding the program generated far less revenues from tickets issued than the cost of maintaining the cameras and monitoring the footage.

The county has announced it will review proposals from private contractors to take over operation of the cameras.

Krystle Russin ([email protected]) writes from Texas.