BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2128
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          Date of Hearing:   May 2, 2012

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair

                 AB 2128 (Cook) - As Introduced:  February 28, 2012 

          Policy Committee:                              
          TransportationVote:13-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program: 
          No     Reimbursable:              No

           SUMMARY  

          This bill requires lengthening of yellow light intervals and 
          requires "rolling-right-on-red" (RROR) traffic light violations 
          be subject to a base fine of $35.  (Current law provides law 
          enforcement discretion over how to classify such a violation.  
          Depending upon this classification, the violation may be subject 
          to a $100 fine or a $35 fine.)  Specifically, this bill:

          1)Requires the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) or local 
            authority to use the speed of prevailing traffic (85th 
            percentile) on a given roadway to determine the minimum yellow 
            traffic light change interval.

          2)Requires, at an intersection with an automated enforcement 
            system in operation, the minimum yellow light change interval 
            to be set at one second beyond the minimum time designated by 
            the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

          3)Requires a driver to stop at red light before turning right 
            and makes failure to do so subject to a base fine of $35.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)Unknown loss of annual revenue, potentially in the millions of 
            dollars.  Actual state revenue loss will depend on the annual 
            number of RROR violations that, absent this bill, would have 
            been subject to the $100 base fine, which triggers $100 in 
            state penalty assessment, as opposed to the $35 base fine, 
            which triggers $40 in state penalty assessment. (General 
            Fund.)  As shown, annual forgone state revenue ranges in the 
            millions of dollars.








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 -----------------------------------------------------------  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  -----------------------------------------------------------  -----------------------------------------------------------             In addition, the bill would result in state revenue losses for 
            each RROR violation, as follows:

                     A loss of $26 in state DNA identification fees, 
                 which statute sets at $3 per $10 base fine, or part 
                 thereof.
                     A loss of $30 dollars in state court construction 
                 fee revenue, which statute sets at $5 per $10 base fine, 
                 or part thereof.
                     A loss of $13 in state surcharge fees, which statute 
                 levies at 20% of the base fine amount.

            Annual state revenues losses for the bulleted items shown 
            above would, like losses associated with state penalty 
            assessment, vary with the number of RROR violations issued 
            annually.

            The state would also lose revenue to the extent the yellow 
            light interval provisions of this bill result in reduced red 
            light violations.  However, this committee lacks data to 
            establish that the bill's yellow light provisions would result 
            in fewer red light violations or, if they did, the magnitude 
            of the reduction; therefore, this analysis does not place a 
            dollar amount on this potential revenue loss. 

          1)Loss of local annual revenue comparable to the loss in annual 
            state revenue.

           COMMENTS  

           1)Rationale.   The author contends this bill better aligns the 
            penalty for certain traffic violations with the gravity of 
            those violations and increases transportation safety by better 
            aligning minimum traffic light timing with driver behavior.

           2)Background.   

              a)   Red Light Violations and Base Fines.   The vehicle code 
               establishes base fines for various traffic violations.  
               Generally, those fines correspond to the seriousness of the 
               violation.  Current law establishes a base fine of $100 for 
               a driver who runs a red light or who turns left onto a 
               two-way street in violation of a red light.  In addition, 
               current law establishes a base fine of $35 for driver who 
               makes a right turn against a red light, oftentimes referred 
               to as a RROR turn.  Current law is written, however, in a 







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               way that allows law enforcement the discretion to cite RROR 
               turns at the higher, $100 base fine for running a red 
               light.  
                
                Some have complained the $100 base fine for RROR violations 
               is disproportionate to the danger posed by such maneuvers.  
               These complaints have increased along with the greater use 
               of automated traffic control systems, such as red light 
               cameras, that subject many drivers to RROR fines.  In 
               addition, those subject to fines have, in recent years, 
               faced a long and costly list of add-on penalties and fees, 
               the most significant of which is the state's penalty 
               assessment add on of $10 per $10 of base fine, or fraction 
               thereof.  As a result of these add ons, a driver cited with 
               a RROR base fine of $100 must pay a total of $531 in fines 
               and fees.
                
              b)   Yellow Light Change Intervals.   The bill attempts to 
               address an effect of recent legislation that allows 
               Caltrans and local authorities, for purposes of determining 
               the minimum required duration of yellow traffic light 
               intervals, to round speed limits down to the next 
               five-mile-per-hour increment below the prevailing speed.  
               The author contends this practice reduces traffic safety by 
               resulting in yellow light intervals that are too short, 
               given the prevailing speed of traffic.  The result, 
               according to the author, is increased traffic collisions.  

                The bill also requires yellow light intervals at 
               intersections with red light cameras to be, at a minimum, 
               one second longer than they would otherwise be.  The author 
               and proponents contend such intersections are the location 
               of a disproportionately large number of traffic collision 
               and that lengthening the yellow light interval would 
               increase traffic safety.  It is unclear, however, why the 
               author limits the yellow light interval requirement to 
               intersections with red light cameras.  It seems the safety 
               benefits, whatever they may be, would exist independent of 
               the presence of red light cameras. 

           3)Related Legislation.   This bill's RROR base fine reduction is 
            substantially the same as that found in AB 909 (Hill, 2010), 
            which passed the Assembly 63-11 but was vetoed by the 
            governor, who expressed safety concerns.  AB 909's RROR 
            provisions were not heard by the appropriations committee of 
            either house.







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           4)Support  .  This bill is supported by the California Teamsters 
            Public Affairs Council, Safer Streets LA and other 
            transportation and motorist organizations, who contend the 
            bill increases traffic safety and better aligns traffic 
            violation penalties with the gravity of traffic offenses. 

           5)Opposition  .  This bill is opposed by the California Police 
            Chiefs Association, who argue the bill undermines the 
            effectiveness of red light camera enforcement and implies RROR 
            turns are not dangerous traffic violations.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Jay Dickenson / APPR. / (916) 319-2081