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Thread: Red light camera monkey business

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Red light camera monkey business

    What a shocker....

    Red light camera monkey business may be a national trend
    By Joel Hruska

    Red-light cameras are often billed as a great way to improve traffic safety and prevent speeding. A few cities across America, however, have been caught short-timing their own yellow lights below legal levels, in what may be an attempt to boost ticket revenues by giving drivers less time to come to a stop. So how many anecdotes do you need to pronounce something a trend? It's hard to say, especially when the anecdotes in question support the abolishment of something as universally hated as the red light camera.

    Six possible red light "gotcha" stories, some of which go back as far as 2005, were originally reported by theNewspaper, but were compiled into a single list of events by motorists.org. One city, Chatanooga, TN, has been forced to repay the $8800 it collected in ticket revenue, while investigations in Lubbock and Dallas, Texas and Springfield, Missouri, have uncovered evidence of similar practices, although no charges have been filed.

    In the single court case that has occurred thus far, Chattanooga's city traffic engineer John Van Winkle testified that the yellow signal light should be (and was) turned on for the 3.9 seconds necessary to meet basic safety standards. The judge in question ordered the claim verified, and discovered that the light was only set for 3s?significantly less than the 3.9 second minimum. Van Winkle claims that the problem was caused by an accidental mixup with turn arrow timing, but there might be more behind the issue. According to confidental documents released in 2001, Lasercraft, the company behind Chatanooga's red camera lights, only installs red light cameras at high-volume intersections with an "amber phase" of less than 4s.

    None of the other cities are facing court actions, but investigative reports have turned up troublesome trends. In Dallas, yellow lights at the city's revenue generators camera-enforced intersections were timed for just 3.15 seconds, or 0.35 seconds less than the Texas Department of Transportation minimum. In this case, a third of a second may make a substantial difference in revenue?theNewspaper reports that most (80 percent) red light tickets are issued less than one second after the light has turned to red. Ironically, Dallas is now considering scrapping its ticket revenue program, after new legislation forced the city to post signs alerting drivers to the existence of the cameras as well as requiring all towns to send 50 percent of their camera-derived income to the state's coffers.

    Springfield and Lubbock have similar stories. In Springfield, residents voiced concerns last spring after the city announced its intention to slash yellow lights by 1 second at multiple intersections. In Lubbock, the city council voted in February 2007 to delay the installation of cameras after an investigation revealed that eight of the 12 intersections were the cameras were to be installed were already running yellow lights well below recommended safety minimums. Again, evidence from the investigation indicated that longer yellow lights actually reduce the number of accidents at busy intersections. The only problem is, long yellows also have a negative impact on revenue, which can make the cameras cost more than they're worth.

    Ultimately, whether you take motorist.org's list of cities who are short-timing yellow lights as indicative of a national trend depends on where you draw the line between "trend" and "anecdote collection." But with state and city budgets tightening in the current economic climate it wouldn't be surprising if a bona fide trend were eventually realized.

  2. #2
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    Re: Red light camera monkey business

    Don't like red-light cameras?
    Follow this example:

    http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Re: Red light camera monkey business

    I think Lasercraft is the one doing the cameras here. May 1 the tickets will be for real, but the city will put the money into a fund in case they are challenged and have to pay it back. At least they are aware of what can happen.

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    Re: Red light camera monkey business

    Talking to myself here. Heard that for the first month, 1700 warning tickets were sent out. As of tomorrow, the fines will be real.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Red light camera monkey business

    Quote Originally Posted by ducky1776
    Talking to myself here. Heard that for the first month, 1700 warning tickets were sent out. As of tomorrow, the fines will be real.
    Loathsome.... makes me just want to stay home....

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    Re: Red light camera monkey business

    One way you can fight back against these cameras, is if everyone who gets a ticket would go to court - it would jam the dockets up and the legal expenses es to all these jurisdiction would be very high due to everyone going to court. It would force them to get rid of the cameras.


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    Re: Red light camera monkey business

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    One way you can fight back against these cameras, is if everyone who gets a ticket would go to court - it would jam the dockets up and the legal expenses es to all these jurisdiction would be very high due to everyone going to court. It would force them to get rid of the cameras.
    I think that may happen, especially if the unemployment rate continues to rise. People will have time, at least temporarily, to fight this nonsense.

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Red light camera monkey business

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    One way you can fight back against these cameras, is if everyone who gets a ticket would go to court - it would jam the dockets up and the legal expenses es to all these jurisdiction would be very high due to everyone going to court. It would force them to get rid of the cameras.
    I think that may happen, especially if the unemployment rate continues to rise. People will have time, at least temporarily, to fight this nonsense.
    Not to mention being seriously angry about having to send $100 bucks (or more) to the god-damned court....

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