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Tickets up 21%, accidents down 20%

Red light system aims to reduce accidents even more

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POSTED December 23, 2008 1:37 a.m.
Traffic tickets in Manteca are up 21 percent.
Accidents in Manteca are down 20.46 percent.
It’s a cause and effect Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker predicted when the department’s traffic unit was beefed up to five members by the addition of another motorcycle officer and a sergeant.
“The more tickets you issue, the more traffic accidents tend to go down,” Bricker noted.
There have been 591 traffic accidents in Manteca this year through the end of October. That’s 20.46 percent less than for the same time period in 2007 when 743 traffic accidents occurred.
Tickets for moving violations, during the 10-month period, tallied 3,318 this year compared to 2,742 in 2007.
The same cause and effect took place regarding driving under the influence arrests and accidents involving driving while impaired by a substance. Such accidents are down 24.32 percent from 2007 dropping from 37 to 28 while driving under the influence arrests were up 5.74 percent from 244 to 258.
Bricker emphasized that issuing tickets is an act of education and trying to get people to comply with the rules of the road and general safety. It is not a revenue source as more than 85 percent of the ticket goes to the state and the county meaning there is no way ticket revenue covers the cost of the officers that write them.
The police chief noted traffic is the top complaint of Manteca residents and for good reason. There is a chance every 2.5 days that someone in Manteca will be injured in a traffic accident. The odds are every 60 days someone will get killed on Manteca streets in an auto accident. And as far as losing money — a typical accident costs in excess of $7,000 in terms of collision repair, medical cost and lost work — and it happens to someone every 12 hours.
The carnage in terms of lives, injuries, and property losses is why Bricker embraces the Nestor red light running technology that is being put in place next year in Manteca.
Bricker originally opposed the red light cameras as he viewed them as being revenue sources for the companies that install them and “enforcement for the sake of enforcement.”
But the Nestor system has new technology that won Bricker over — accident avoidance.
Say a car, for example, on Union Road, is approaching Northgate Drive but the driver doesn’t acknowledge the red light by starting to slow down to stop.
The computer system snaps photos of the red light runner for later review and possible ticketing by Manteca Police.
At the same time, the red light enforcement system overrides the traffic signal sequence and delays the turning of the signal to green for cross traffic that could unwittingly pull into the path of the car running the red light.
And that, in a nutshell, is why Bricker has changed his mind.
The six intersections that will have red light cameras installed next year are:
• Main Street and Yosemite Avenue.
• Union Road and Northgate Drive.
• Main Street and Center Street.
• Main Street and Louise Avenue.
• Lathrop Road and Union Road.
• Louise Avenue and Union Road.
There have been five traffic fatalities in Manteca through Oct. 31 of this year.
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