Q I recently received a $500 ticket for not fully stopping on a red light before making a right turn on Whipple Avenue at Veterans Boulevard in Redwood City. It wasn't an officer who gave it to me, though. I received the ticket in the mail.

I had no idea that San Mateo County had cameras that actually took video and could judge the speed of your vehicle to determine if you made a full stop at the red light. It says my vehicle speed was 15 mph but I am thinking that was when I sped up after I had already stopped at the light. The letter mentions that I can request to see the video in person by calling the Redwood City Police Department.

It's one thing to have a camera catching you blatantly running a red light, but it seems the right on red is much more subjective and difficult to prove.

Chris Young

Redwood City

A Chris' story takes an even more expensive turn ...

Q I viewed the video online, and while I entered the intersection less than a second after it had turned red, I figured my case was not good enough to contest, and I paid the $500 and did traffic school.

The amazing thing is that on the same day I emailed you, my wife did the exact same thing at the exact same intersection and received a $500 ticket. Our family is now out $1,000 and will have to postpone that trip to Hawaii. I would warn your readers to be vigilant about making a full stop when taking a right at Veterans and Whipple, or they could be out quite a bit of dough.

Chris Young

A Ouch! Red-light cameras have been used at this intersection and in many other cities in San Mateo and Alameda counties and in San Francisco for years. There are signs nearby warning motorists that cameras are in use.

The vast majority of tickets go to motorists who simply roll through a right turn on red in what has become known as a "California stop." In South San Francisco, 98 percent of the 672 red-light violations recorded over one two-month period at El Camino Real and Westborough Boulevard were for right turns. Other cities say four of five tickets go to people turning right on red.

New legislation takes effect Jan. 1 that establishes statewide standards for the installation and operation of traffic enforcement cameras and makes it easier to challenge unjustified tickets.

Before everyone asks, there are no red-light cameras in Santa Clara or Contra Costa counties.

Now, on to another surprise that arrived in the mail.

Q My husband and I took a trip in mid-September and drove from Iowa to Sioux Falls, S.D. On Oct. 8 we received a letter from Alamo car rental stating they had been notified by a toll authority or other agency that our vehicle received a citation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We knew nothing of a citation.

The letter stated that they were "assessing a fee to apply to all costs our affiliates and we incur for citations and their administration. We will be assessing these charges to your credit card within fifteen days of this letter."

The fee was $18. Can they do that?

Ginny Home

San Jose

A Yep, they can. But a few days later, Ginny got another surprise in the mail.

Q We received a citation from a Cedar Rapids processing center saying our vehicle was "captured going over posted speed limit." Apparently this was on a camera, as it shows a photo of the Iowa rental car license plate. Now we know why Alamo contacted us. We have to pay the $75 fee, but what about Alamo? Not a huge amount of money, but it is perturbing.

Ginny Home

A I understand. Iowa is a state that uses cameras to clock speeders, and rental car companies can charge a fee if you are caught speeding in one of their vehicles. I'd take care of this, as it could remain on your driving record until paid, and you could pay a stiff penalty if you ignore it and then need to register your car in California.

Q I once sent you a message about how many carpool-lane scofflaws there are on the onramp to northbound Highway 85 from Bernal Road. I've seen CHP units at the top of the ramp at least three times since then. Like taking candy from a baby. Perhaps it's just my optimism, but it seems there are fewer violators of late. Which is what it's all about, right?

Tim Hyde

Morgan Hill

A Carpool scofflaws get no sympathy from me.

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