State Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) has introduced a bill to prohibit the installation of red-light cameras, a move that he says would improve safety and traffic flow on California streets.
Harper's legislation, Assembly Bill 1160, is intended to prevent cities from adding traffic cameras at intersections, but it also would require safety studies for cities that already have them.
The cameras capture the images of vehicles that have entered an intersection on a red light. This allows the cities that have the cameras to cite the vehicle owners later.
But Harper said the devices have increased the number of rear-end accidents as drivers make sudden stops to avoid a possible violation.
"It was actually a hindrance to the traffic," he said. "Whenever you have those fender-benders and those collisions, traffic has to stop to be able to accommodate those accidents, and it hurts the ability of people to get where they're trying to go, rather than helps.… We're trying to make traffic safer, flow better and trying to address the needs of Californians in terms of transportation."
Harper said he also is concerned about the "Big Brother aspect" of traffic cameras.
"Red-light cameras have been something I've been in opposition to throughout being involved in public life here in Orange County," he said.
Harper, a former mayor of Huntington Beach, now represents the 74th Assembly District, which includes all or parts of Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Laguna Woods. He said Huntington Beach was looking to install traffic cameras along Beach Boulevard about 10 years ago but opted not to because they would not be cost-effective.
Costa Mesa and Irvine have removed their red-light cameras. Santa Ana, which has cameras at 15 intersections, has started removing them.
— Anthony Clark Carpio