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Red light runner camera proposal deep-sixed

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POSTED October 12, 2009 2:51 a.m.

Red light runners won’t have to worry about being caught any time soon in Manteca by high-tech cameras when they violate the law and jeopardize public safety.

Manteca leaders opted out of a contract to acquire red light enforcement cameras that had collision- avoidance systems integrated after Nestor Traffic Systems was acquired by American Traffic Solutions.

Nestor was the only company that was marketing accident avoidance technology. ATS has made it clear they plan to concentrate only on the enforcement aspect of red light camera systems. It did not cost Manteca anything to opt out of the contract.

If American Traffic Solutions or another firm decides in the future to market accident avoidance systems then staff will bring the issue back before the City Council.

 The Manteca City Council had decided to go forward with the system after a survey during a 16-hour period in May 2008 came up with 552 red light violations at six intersections. The Manteca Police Department at the time had four officers assigned to traffic who worked 40 hours apiece each week. Even if they were all working the same eight hour period in the right place at the right time non-stop for their shift and took a fairly quick 15 minutes to pull over a violator, ticket them and get back on the road they could only issue 128 tickets a day at only one-eighth of all of Manteca’s intersections. They’d also have to ignore all other traffic concerns such as speeding and stop sign running as well as not being distracted by any accidents or other calls.

The traffic division was expanded to five officers but as of Saturday due to police layoffs it has been whittled down to two officers devoted to enforcing traffic laws in Manteca.

The camera deal was designed to reduce the odds of red light runners getting away with breaking the law — as well as increasing safety at six intersections.

The six intersections targeted for red light cameras were:
• 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.

Police Chief Dave Bricker had been opposed to red light camera systems as he viewed them as simply being punishment orientated. He favored going with Nestor as it was the only system that once it spots a red light runner held the green for cross traffic to reduce the potential for intersection T-bone accidents which rank on top of the list for in-city traffic fatalities and major injuries.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabiulletin.com

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