Why you should stop before running a red light in Temecula
By AARON CLAVERIE / STAFF WRITER
Published: Feb. 24, 2017 Updated: Feb. 25, 2017 6:27 a.m.
SARAH BURGE, FILE PHOTO
The city of Temecula is trying to address one of the top complaints of area motorists: the city's drivers who believe a red light means it's A-OK to make that left turn and block three or four lanes of traffic in the process.
Earlier this month, the city announced a special enforcement operation targeting these red light violators. Since officers started conducting it during the morning and evening commutes, they have issued 95 citations, Temecula Police Chief Jeff Kubel said. A red light ticket comes with a $490 fine.
Although surveys of Temecula residents consistently rank traffic grievances as their top complaint, Kubel said the reaction of the community to the new program has been "varied."
"We've certainly noticed some in the community have acknowledged and appreciated the extra red light enforcement. However, there are still some who express frustration because they perceive most/all yellow light running as red light running," he said.
"Unfortunately for these, as long as the vehicle's front tires enter the intersection on the yellow light -- (which means crossing the limit line, often a crosswalk line -- they are not in violation. This is true even if the light turns red immediately after the vehicle enters the intersection and the light is red 99 percent of the time the vehicle is passing through the intersection."
The yellow light rule is not absolute, however. Kubel said that if a vehicle enters the intersection on the yellow light but, because of traffic congestion, is forced to stop while still in the intersection that's a violation that can lead to a ticket.
The city has tried to address this particular issue, which is exacerbated by a city street grid that funnels traffic to a few key intersections, in the past with a program called S.L.A.P. (Stop Light Abuse Problem).
That program, which was rolled out in the early 2000s, issued citations to those who ran reds and gift certificates to those who didn't.
In the past, the city also instituted periodic crackdowns on certain intersections -- such as Ynez and Rancho California roads -- after hearing from former Councilman Ron Roberts, who would talk about egregious violations in council meetings.
Roberts is no longer on the council but the city recently vowed to hire 11 new officers following the passage of the Measure S sales tax hike, only weeks before announcing the crackdown on red light violations.
Murrieta, which has similar issues and hosts some of the same motorists, put in red light cameras a few years ago. Those cameras were removed after an outcry from residents who said the program didn't actually increase public safety.