Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/02/2010 06:26:05 PM PST

LOMA LINDA – For five years, drivers have cursed the cameras that fine them hundreds of dollars for running red lights by tenths of a second, and for most of that time city representatives have angrily joined in.

Once the cameras were deactivated at midnight Wednesday, they were singing a different tune.

“Ding dong, the witch is dead,” said Mayor Rhodes Rigsby, long a vocal opponent of the cameras.

The City Council contracted with Redflex in 2006 – before most of the present council members were elected – in hopes of improving safety and raising revenue.

But some studies show that the cameras actually increase traffic accidents because panicked drivers slam on their brakes when the light changes, causing rear-end crashes when they would otherwise have sailed through before the cross traffic’s light even turned green.

A better way to increase safety is to make lights stay yellow one second longer, as Loma Linda did, Rigsby said. He has made the same argument to leaders of other cities, including San Bernardino and Los Angeles.

As for revenue, Rigsby estimated the city has netted about $200,000 over five years, while most of the ticket fines – $465 each, in most cases – went to other agencies or to Redflex, the Australia-based company that operates the cameras.

“For that $200,000 we took $15 million out of the local economy” in ticket fines, Rigsby said.

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