HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Red Light Safety Camera Pilot Program has been “live” for a year and still has another year to go but officials are already hoping to expand the program, citing a decline in red light runners. But there are still a few issues that need to be ironed out, including how to ensure citations are paid.

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It’s meant to catch and deter red light runners. Since citations started rolling out Nov. 20, 2022, the transportation department director Ed Sniffen said it’s working.

“The Red Light Safety Camera Pilot Program is definitely looks like something that we’d love to extend,” Sniffen said. “Since the last six months, we’ve seen a 20% to 40% reduction in citations issued in those areas.”

Sniffen said they’re also seeing fewer crashes.

But not everyone’s convinced.

KHON: “Do you think that it’s working?”

“No, not at all,” said Palama resident Thomas Hulama. “I still see it every morning, every evening.”

“I’m all for anything that makes the streets safer,” said Kaneohe resident Zachary Anderson. “But it is definitely a bummer getting one of those letters in the mail with a big fine.”

KHON: “Have you gotten a ticket? “

“I didn’t get a ticket, but I got a warning,” Anderson said. “So I’ve been trying to be real careful since.”

KHON: “So it actually worked then, right?”

“Yea, I think so,” Anderson admitted. “It definitely put it in my mind for sure when I go through some of these intersections to be extra careful.”

He said he got the warning at the Vineyard Blvd and Palama Street location during the warning period last year.

The intersection of Vineyard Blvd and Palama Street was the first to go live and issue citations for the pilot program. And after almost a year, more than 1,150 people have been tagged for running the red at this light alone.

There are 10 locations in Honolulu involved in the program –chosen due to high incidents of crashes and running red lights.

According to DOT, over 13,180 citations have been issued (through Oct. 23, 2023) and 699 of them were contested. Of those, 204 were dismissed in court.

“They were dismissed because the person who was issued the citation, no longer owns the vehicle. That person had transferred title and had had documentation to show that. So the citation could not be issued to them,” Sniffen explained.
“And we found two so far, where the judges had indicated the person was not the driver of the vehicle, and the case was dismissed.”

Sniffen said he is not sure why those two were dismissed, but added they are trying to tighten up the process to ensure they’re citing the right people.

Hawaii Revised Statues indicate the responsibility falls on the owner of the vehicle regardless whether they were driving at the time of the infraction.

Sniffen said they’re also working on compliance when it comes to paying the fine, as more than 5648 are past due.

Despite some wrinkles, he hopes to expand the program.

“We’re seeing definite safety improvements based on this system. And we’d love to go statewide with it.”

He said they’ll provide a report to the legislature next year.

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Citations are mailed to the vehicle owner within 10 days of the incident. Fines can be up to $200 for the first offense.