Mayor Bob Filner announced that San Diego will stop its red light camera program

Cameras had been operating at 15 intersections

SAN DIEGO - Mayor Bob Filner and police Chief William Lansdowne announced Friday that the city of San Diego will stop its red light camera program.

10News Poll: San Diegans' opinion on red light camera program

The cameras have been operating at 15 busy intersections for years, but a contract with the private firm that operates them expires Thursday.

During the election campaign, Filner said he wasn't in favor of the program as it was set up. His predecessor, Jerry Sanders, declined to bring a contract renewal to the City Council before he left office last month.

Filner announced the change at N. Harbor Drive and Grape Street, used by some drivers leaving Lindbergh Field for Interstate 5 and by others as a way to depart the downtown waterfront. This intersection had the most violations amongst the 15 intersections equipped with red light cameras.

The cameras are designed to automatically take photographs of red-light runners, capturing the vehicle's driver and license plate. Fines are nearly $500.

“Public safety enforcement is more effective when they have an actually police officer, in this case on a motorcycle, enforcing the red light ordinance," Mayor Filner said during the Friday press conference. 

Filner added, there was no conclusive evidence that the cameras reduced the number of crashes. Filner said the cameras have actually increased the number of rear-end crashes in the city.

The intersection accounted for almost 25 percent of the nearly 20,000 citations issued by the program in 2011, according to a report by U-T San Diego. However, statistics show no accidents at the location since 2001, the newspaper reported.

According to the city of San Diego's website, red light cameras are set up at the following other intersections:

-- 10th Avenue at A and F streets
-- Aero Drive at Murphy Canyon Road
-- Camino Del Rio N. at Mission Center Road
-- Camino De La Reina /Camino Del Rio N. at Qualcomm Way
-- Clairemont Mesa Boulevard at Convoy Street
-- Cleveland Avenue at Washington Street
-- Del Mar Heights Road at El Camino Real
-- Kearny Villa Road at Balboa Avenue
-- Mira Mesa Boulevard at Scranton Road and Westview Parkway
-- Mission Bay Drive at Garnet Avenue
-- N. Torrey Pines Road at Genessee Avenue
-- Rosecrans Street at Nimitz Boulevard

A spokesperson for American Traffic Solutions released a statement to 10News regarding the program. While the company would not directly comment on the end of the contract, a spokesperson said:

“Red light cameras change behavior. 97.1 percent of offenders never receive a second violation… Red light cameras free up police officers from routine traffic stops and allow them to focus on keeping our streets safe.”

There are still more than 20 red light cameras still operating in the county -- in El Cajon, Vista, Poway, Oceanside, Encinitas and Solana Beach.

Los Angeles and Houston got rid of their red light cameras last year.

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