Replacement of Right Light Ticket Cameras in San Francisco

San Francisco’s Red Light Ticket Cameras, designed to take photos of cars that run a red light have not been operating since January, 2019 as they are undergoing replacement by the SFMTA.

The SFMTA’s Automated Enforcement Program uses a network of automated cameras to enforce illegal red-light running and illegal right turns.

Red-light cameras take automatic snapshots of both the front license plate and the driver’s face when a vehicle enters an intersection after the light has changed.

The photos are evidence to issue $489 state moving violation tickets for running the light.

KCBS reports, that entire network of 20 intersections where the cameras operate was shut off by the SFMTA back in January. Replacement of the Kodak machines was needed because they were prone to break down during the rain and needed major repairs as well as Kodak film. A new digital camera system operating at intersections most prone to accidents will be installed soon.

The first new camera will operate at Fourth and Harrison later this month with the rest operational won’t all be operational by summer.

As the Chronicle’s Phil Matier explains, there won’t be 20 intersections covered anymore.

Red-light ticket cameras first installed in SF in 1996

The red-light cameras were first used in San Francisco in 1996. In 2013, the program  had 47 cameras in 26 intersections around the city. Later, the cameras were scaled back to cover to 20 intersections.

In the past four month the traffic cameras were turned off while awaiting installation of a new system

The new system, which is to be installed starting this month, won’t be completely up and running until the summer.

“During a time when San Francisco is experiencing a troubling uptick in fatal collisions involving people walking and biking, these cameras cannot be replaced soon enough,” said San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Brian Wiedenmeier.

The cameras proved to be a valuable tool in reducing red-light-related collisions by up to 40 percent in the intersections, said Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose.

But then the cameras started breaking and the number of citations issued dropped.

In 2012, the city issued 19,122 red-light tickets. By 2016 the number of tickets issued in the intersections with cameras dropped to 7,663 .

The cameras and the Kodak film used in them were becoming obsolete.

Less Likelihood of getting a red-light camera ticket

Fewer intersections will be covered under the new program. Cameras  are only being installed at intersections with the highest collision rates and where other safety upgrades have failed to improve collision totals.

Safety advocates advocate for more cameras

“San Francisco needs to be doing everything in its power to make our streets safer, especially given the number of traffic deaths already this year. It’s hard to believe we need less red-light cameras,” said SF Walk Executive Director Jodie Medeiros.

Intersections Covered With Red Light Cameras

The SFMTA is upgrading the program’s Automated Enforcement System with state-of-the-art equipment. Construction is underway to replace existing or install new equipment at the 13 intersections listed below, all of which will enforce red light violations, except for the intersection at Market Street and Octavia Boulevard, which will use camera equipment to enforce a posted NO RIGHT TURN regulation facing eastbound Market Street. Eight of the intersections are currently enforced and are being upgraded with new equipment, and five intersections will be newly enforced, as indicated below. The direction of traffic enforced at each intersection is indicated in parentheses.

13 Intersections with Automated Enforcement Cameras

Intersections to be upgraded with new equipment:

  1. 6th St at Bryant St (eastbound, southbound)
  2. 19th Ave at Sloat Blvd (northbound, southbound)
  3. Fell St at Masonic Ave (westbound)
  4. Hayes St at Polk St (southbound, westbound)
  5. Market St at Octavia Blvd (eastbound illegal right turns)
  6. Oak St at Octavia Blvd (eastbound, northbound, eastbound right-turn lanes will be newly enforced)
  7. Park Presidio Blvd at Lake St (southbound)
  8. So. Van Ness Ave at 14th St (northbound)

Intersections to be newly enforced:

  1. 4th St at Harrison St (southbound, westbound)
  2. 6th St at Folsom St (southbound)
  3. 8th St at Folsom St (southbound)
  4. Divisadero St at Bush St (northbound)
  5. Van Ness Ave at Broadway (southbound left turn lanes)

The SFMTA will activate the new cameras at each intersection as construction is completed at each intersection. In accordance with state law, the SFMTA will issue only warning notices for 30 days after activating cameras at each intersection. The SFMTA will start issuing citations at each intersection after the 30-day warning period.

Red Light Camera Citations-SFMTA Procedures

Citations are issued to the vehicle’s registered owner on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 15 days of the violation date. The court sends the registered owner a separate courtesy warning within 30 days of the violation.

When the traffic signal phase has turned red and the 3D traffic radar detects a vehicle entering the intersection, the system captures four digital photographs and a short video clip of the event. The system takes two photos of the rear and two photos of the front of the violating vehicle using two separate cameras. Placing one digital camera and HD video camera behind the violation point clearly shows the position of the vehicle relative to the violation point and the color of the traffic signal phase both before and after the vehicle enters the intersection. Placing an additional digital camera across the intersection photographs the front of the vehicle and captures a clear image of the driver.

By State law, these photographs are confidential. If you were involved in a collision at an intersection with an Automated Enforcement camera, the photographs can only be provided to the driver of the vehicle receiving the citation.

Violation Processing

Once events are loaded into a Violation Processing System (VPS), trained technicians review and categorize each event based on the SFMTA’s business requirements. For events meeting the requirements of a potential violation, the VPS obtains the name, address, and identifying information of the registered owner from the California Department of Motor Vehicles or the analogous agency of another state or country, based upon the license plate of the photographed vehicle.

Once this information is obtained, a San Francisco Police Officer reviews, signs and issues the citation containing four images of the violation. The four images show: a full rear view of the violating vehicle, a full front view of the violating vehicle, a close-up of the license plate, and a close-up of the driver. The system then sends the signed citation (i.e., Notice to Appear) to the alleged violator by mail. If the registered owner responds to the SFMTA or the court to identify another driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation, the Notice to Appear may or may not be issued to the identified driver.

For  legal assistance with red light camera tickets or any other moving violations, contact the skilled San Francisco DMV defense professionals at Uthman Law Office. Attorney David Uthman has over 20 years of experience as a litigation attorney and almost a decade of experience as a police officer. At the Uthman Law Office, we know the law and we know the process. We have the know-how to get results for you. Call us today at (415) 556-9200 to schedule your FREE initial consultation.