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Thread: Red light / speed cameras

  1. #1

    Red light / speed cameras

    I recall having a conversation about the use of red-light cameras. The person - an employee of the local government who will remain unnamed due to his/her speaking off the record - shared my disdain of speed cameras, but asked how I could oppose red-light cameras. This person told me that unlike speed limits set arbitrarily low for revenue, a red light is much more cut and dried - no mistakes, red means stop. I responded by pointing out too-short yellow light times and an increase in rear-end collisions at such lights. Then the employee hit me with this:

    'Okay, [Reb], how about this. All red-light cameras at intersections must have a yellow light time of no less than five seconds, a one second "grace period" between the light turning red and the camera activating, and be clearly posted as a red-light camera intersection. How about that?'

    (NB: That isnt an exact quote; its simply the way I recall it.)

    H'm...this seems reasonable to me. I still dont like it, though; but I suppose I could live with it. The only way I could be totally comfortable with the idea is if the cameras do not issue citations by themselves, but would only be admissible as a supplement to an officer's testimony or to determine who really ran the light when one car T-bones another at an intersection. Come to think of it, I feel the same way about speed cameras - supplementary only; not to be used by itself to cite motorists for violations.

    Your thoughts, please?
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  2. #2
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    Even if red light camera intersections were set according to what that engineer stated, it does not change the fact that they set traffic enforcement on its head. In addition, cities have to generate a certain amount of revenue to keep them operational, so they will ticket people for making right turns on red. A rolling right on red causes, get this, 0.0038 percent (yes, thats right) of all accidents on our roads, but generate anywhere from 25 to 60 percent of RLC revenue.

    The great majority of cities have tried many new tricks to enhance tickets. These include moving the trigger line forward in the intersection, fooling around with the grace period before the camera issues tickets, shortening the yellow times, and citing for the right turn on red violations.

    It also doesn't change that the cameras will cite the owner of the car, not the driver in most cases. To cite the driver, it involves a much more elaborate scheme of dual facing cameras, which most cities won't do at this point. This aspect of RLCs poses constitutional problems in many cases which governments are experts at getting around.

    As for the point about RLC's being used to monitor traffic accidents, red light violation contribute less than 3 percent to the total number of accidents on the road. Red light cameras are an expensive method to gather evidence, costing cities more than $5,000 per month per intersection.

    The engineers arguments are specious, although he is likely a good guy, he is misinformed.

    The same applies to speed cameras. Speeding over the limit comprises fewer than 3 percent of all wrecks as well, most all of which might involve traveling too fast in bad weather.

    Most of our accident and fatality reduction over the last 40 years has been due to improvements in roadway and vehicle design, not due to enforcement. Even Joan Claybrook admitted that many years ago when the debates on the 65 mph speed limits were taking place. Speed and red light cameras sill comprise a very small number of tickets written, so to say that they impact the overall picture is ludicrous.

    In addition, many studies show that red light cameras change driving behavior to the point that rear end collisions increase and other collisions only decrease slightly. Most all intersections have anywhere from a 10 percent to a 70% increase in accidents with cameras. Beginning in 2008 or so, when the economy began tanking all intersections showed decreases in collisions, so the largest reductions occur when the country is an a prolonged economic slump.

    Red light and speed cameras deserve their place in a landfill with the big mac wrappers and dirty diapers.

  3. #3
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    In addition, cameras being used as a tool to gather evidence is a slippery slope argument.

    Red light cameras and speed cameras record moving video 24/7 and most companies keep that data for 30 days.

    I frankly think it is a scary thing to have this kind of surveillence equipmnent in place. Most traffic cameras do the same thing, although their lenses are not as sophisticated and most cities do not keep this moving video.

    I will largely sacrifice a little perceived safety for the lack of detection equipment.

    If people are so concerned about recording traffic incidents (I'm not accusing you of this), they can buy an in car cam for about $300.00, the price of a fancy EVO sail fawn and record until their heart's content. Otherwise they can leave me the hell alone.

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The problem - the danger - is very subtle, which is why it is so dangerous.

    It is the idea of automating enforcement. Once you accept the premise of red light cameras, then why - how - could you object to speed cameras?

    Notice that all traffic enforcement is based on revenue for the state - on the profit motive.

    If "safety" really were the issue, the punishments for transgressing various rules and laws would not be Gibs Muh a Dollah. Or, the fines collected would go to charity, or some other non-government purpose.

    The fact that traffic enforcement is a massive source of revenue for the government that writes and enforces the laws tells us all we really need to know about this scam.











    Quote Originally Posted by RebelKnightCSA View Post
    I recall having a conversation about the use of red-light cameras. The person - an employee of the local government who will remain unnamed due to his/her speaking off the record - shared my disdain of speed cameras, but asked how I could oppose red-light cameras. This person told me that unlike speed limits set arbitrarily low for revenue, a red light is much more cut and dried - no mistakes, red means stop. I responded by pointing out too-short yellow light times and an increase in rear-end collisions at such lights. Then the employee hit me with this:

    'Okay, [Reb], how about this. All red-light cameras at intersections must have a yellow light time of no less than five seconds, a one second "grace period" between the light turning red and the camera activating, and be clearly posted as a red-light camera intersection. How about that?'

    (NB: That isnt an exact quote; its simply the way I recall it.)

    H'm...this seems reasonable to me. I still dont like it, though; but I suppose I could live with it. The only way I could be totally comfortable with the idea is if the cameras do not issue citations by themselves, but would only be admissible as a supplement to an officer's testimony or to determine who really ran the light when one car T-bones another at an intersection. Come to think of it, I feel the same way about speed cameras - supplementary only; not to be used by itself to cite motorists for violations.

    Your thoughts, please?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RebelKnightCSA View Post
    H'm...this seems reasonable to me. I still dont like it, though; but I suppose I could live with it. The only way I could be totally comfortable with the idea is if the cameras do not issue citations by themselves, but would only be admissible as a supplement to an officer's testimony or to determine who really ran the light when one car T-bones another at an intersection.

    Your thoughts, please?
    Unfortunately with our 'technology' many things become possible - but may be of little value. Just because you can definitively measure something (like running a red) - doesn't mean it's even worthwhile! This is the same with speeding.

    When you think about it, waht activity are you more harrased than driving? It seems the state has found a segway to ever more manage our lives.

    They should install breathalyzers on all chainsaws so you can't possibly use one while enjoying a beverage.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BrentP's Avatar
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    The timings in ITE and MUTCD were changed for the worse over the years. Even if yellow signals are now set to the minimums they can be too short.

    What the RLC companies do these days after being caught shortening yellow signals is cherry pick intersections that are substandard with regards to yellow signal length or some other underlying defect.

    I have adopted two practices to avoid RLC tickets.

    1) Never turn right on red at an RLC intersection. I will never be in an RLC intersection with the red signal on deliberately. I've seen legally turning drivers flashed. I've been flashed when making a legal stop countless times. And lastly I don't trust these things not to photograph vehicles legally turning and then sending out tickets. There's no defense to a still photo that shows your vehicle in the intersection on red. (yeah, there should be video... should be. and I wouldn't count on having it for court)

    2) When I am too close to stop when going straight through, I accelerate. This defeats the short yellow somewhat. It's based on small margins so 5-10mph over the limit is enough. It has downsides, but gotta do what has to be done.

  7. #7
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    I've been going over to Illinois a lot lately and have noticed SUVs with the rear hatch open on several occasions. Then I noticed a camera lens. Yep, it's a speed camera. It catches your front plate, a picture of the car and of the driver. Now, I live in Indiana, We only use a rear plate. I wasn't going all that fast but what they get on my car is an American flag plate, not a state plate.

    My biggest problem with automated cameras is the ticket gets sent to the registered owner of the plate. Regardless of what state they are in. One fellow got a ticket for a plate number such and such, which is the plate on his car. However, the vehicle was clearly a bus and the fellow getting the ticket hadn't been in the state, much less the area where the ticket was issued.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RebelKnightCSA View Post
    I recall having a conversation about the use of red-light cameras. The person - an employee of the local government who will remain unnamed due to his/her speaking off the record - shared my disdain of speed cameras, but asked how I could oppose red-light cameras. This person told me that unlike speed limits set arbitrarily low for revenue, a red light is much more cut and dried - no mistakes, red means stop. I responded by pointing out too-short yellow light times and an increase in rear-end collisions at such lights. Then the employee hit me with this:

    'Okay, [Reb], how about this. All red-light cameras at intersections must have a yellow light time of no less than five seconds, a one second "grace period" between the light turning red and the camera activating, and be clearly posted as a red-light camera intersection. How about that?'

    (NB: That isnt an exact quote; its simply the way I recall it.)

    H'm...this seems reasonable to me. I still dont like it, though; but I suppose I could live with it. The only way I could be totally comfortable with the idea is if the cameras do not issue citations by themselves, but would only be admissible as a supplement to an officer's testimony or to determine who really ran the light when one car T-bones another at an intersection. Come to think of it, I feel the same way about speed cameras - supplementary only; not to be used by itself to cite motorists for violations.

    Your thoughts, please?
    I think the most blatant abuse of traffic lights is the disregardance of the green turn arrow turning red.
    I often see vehicles turning in front of my line of straight through traffic after our red stop light has turned green.
    I would like to see a camera on those turn arrows.
    Trevor

  9. #9
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Speed cameras and red light cameras are illegal in my state, by an act of legislature.

  10. #10
    Senior Member eesquared's Avatar
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    It's not about safety - it's about revenue. The mayor here in Houston wants to reinstitute use of the red light cameras. They were shut down last November as a result of popular vote. The reason she is giving for reinstituting them is that Houston is missing out on $4 million + per year by not operating them.

    It doesn't have a cotton-pickin' thing to do with safety.

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