On November 28, 2006, the Menlo Park City Council authorized implementation of a Red Light Photo Enforcement Program as part of a comprehensive program of traffic safety measures. The first camera system was installed in Spring 2008 at the intersection of Bayfront Expressway at Willow Road.
In recent data collected, red light running has contributed to 20% of major injury collisions and 17% of fatality collisions in Menlo Park. The Office of Traffic Safety collision rankings show Menlo Park to be ranked 11 out of 97 cities for speed related injury collisions within our population group.
The following three high-risk intersections were selected for Menlo Park's Red Light Photo Enforcement Program:
- Bayfront Expressway at Willow Road
- El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue
- El Camino Real and Valparaiso Avenue
Drivers who fail to stop for red lights cause 260,000 collisions per year in the United States. As a result, nearly a thousand people per year are killed, thousands more injured, and hundreds of billions of dollars are lost due to property damage and lost work productivity (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). The estimated cost in California alone is more than twenty billion dollars. Surveys reveal that two out of three drivers witness other drivers run red lights on a daily basis.
The purpose of the Red Light Photo Enforcement Program is to increase voluntary compliance of motorists stopping for red lights and to reduce traffic collisions caused by unsafe driver behavior. The system offers 24-hour enforcement at designated intersections while increasing public awareness of the dangers and punitive expense associated with failing to stop for traffic signals.
The program uses an automated camera system which takes four photographs capturing the vehicle position in the intersection, the license plate, and the driver's face. The camera system also records 12 seconds of constant, live streaming video of the violation, six seconds before and six seconds after the violation. The camera system only becomes active after the light has turned red. Vehicles crossing the limit line after the light has turned red are detected automatically and the camera system records the images. After a Menlo Park Police Department employee reviews the images and video, a citation is mailed out to the registered owner of the vehicle.