Skip to comments.Red-light cameras allow lucky turns About 300 citations are thrown out because of a loophole
Posted on 09/21/2006 8:25:38 AM PDT by Snickering Hound
Hundreds of drivers who ran red lights while making turns at intersections newly monitored by cameras have not been issued tickets because of a loophole in the photo-enforcement ordinance.
"The way the current city ordinance is written, turns are excluded, even if they are illegal turns," said Houston police Sgt. Michael Muench.
Traffic officers reviewed more than 1,000 violations caught on camera during the first two weeks of the program, the police department reported. A third were thrown out, many because the driver was making a right or left turn while running the light, Muench said.
Muench was unable to provide data on exactly how many violations were thrown out because the vehicle turned. Officials said officials would review the statistics before deciding whether to press for a change in the ordinance.
Councilman Adrian Garcia, chairman of the public safety committee that vetted the ordinance before approving it in late 2004, said he and his colleagues did not intend to exempt turning violators from the $75 civil citation.
The sticky part of the ordinance reads: "The owner of a motor vehicle is liable for a civil penalty of $75 if the motor vehicle proceeds into a system location without turning when the traffic control signal for that motor vehicle's direction of travel is emitting a steady red signal."
City Attorney Arturo Michel said the language was included to avoid ticketing vehicles that entered intersections legally but were caught there when the light turned red.
Councilwoman Pam Holm said the panel should consider amending the ordinance, and a spokesman for Mayor Bill White agreed that may be an option. "As with any new ordinance, we would always look for ways to make improvements, particularly if it involves public safety," spokesman Frank Michel said.
Violators who have avoided tickets because of the loophole were turning right on red or left on red at intersections of one-way streets, said Muench, who reviews all of the dismissed violations.
Police Chief Harold Hurtt today is expected to release more detailed statistics on the camera-enforcement program, which went into effect Sept. 1.
The cameras photograph vehicles that run red lights at 10 intersections throughout the city. The city plans to install them at 40 more sites where many crashes occur.
The system takes two still photographs and a video recording of the car's back license plate, not the driver, so the owner of the vehicle is fined.
The system is not triggered by vehicles that make a full stop before turning right on red, said Jim Tuton, CEO of American Traffic Solutions Inc., the Phoenix-based company in charge of the project.
It does, however, snap photos of cars that roll through while the light is red, he said.
A total of 1,729 incidents were caught, police reported. After ATS reviewed the images and removed the unclear ones, the company sent 1,040 violations to Houston police.
Though many of the dismissed violations were thrown out because of the turn technicality, some were dismissed for other reasons, Muench said.
"We try to err in favor of the driver, so if it's a question whatsoever, we just don't issue it," he said.
No doubt the ordinance will get rewritten, but think of how many devil-may-care, dangerous drivers they have there in Houston.
Definitely not a place to go to do business.
Right on Red, it's an American right...........
What about guys like me who, after stopping at the red light, then proceed straight through because there is no traffic? Or the guy that stops at the red and then makes a LEGAL right turn. Do these cameras only care about the few seconds after a light turns red?
And if that is the case, what of the guy that stops on the yellow and then turns right just as the light turns red?
Simple solution - no front license plate. The ticket every nine years is worth it.
I've heard that they are shortening the yellow light time so much, that it basically goes straight from green to RED, in an attempt to boost ticket revenues and pay bigger retirements to city employees. Any truth to that, outside of California?
And don't give me this sh@@ you are not supposed to enter to make a left unless the traffic will allow. If we obeyed every traffic law we might as well stay home. Try Southern California traffic.
not in new york city. i think you can count on one hand the number of places you can legally make the right on red turn. there has to be a special sign posted allowing the turn. it makes sense with all the pedestrians we have.
Costing governments around the country hundreds of billions of dollars. They will fix that loophole real quick.
Acutally, no. The instance mentioned was when the State politicians specified a minimum yellow time that was more than recommended by the ITE (Institute of Traffic Engineers) formula. There have been many, many years of study on yellow times and it has been repeatedly found that too short is dangerous and also too long is dangerous. The safest time is between 3 seconds and 5 or 5-1/2 seconds, depending on the physical characteristics of the intersection.
Who would you rather control the timing at an intersection: some politicians or a nationwide group of trained traffic engineers who conduct studies, publish them for peer review, and argue over them (sometimes for years) before making a recommendation to lawmakers?
Unfortunately, most published literature by the ITE confirms that red-light cameras increase the safety of the intersection (when other existing means have been tried and failed).
Great website on how to beat these tickets:
The towns around here are starting to put them in, and we have responded by refusing to do business in the towns that have them.
The towns do it for the money, not because of any perceived safety benefits.
It's true in Scottsdale Arizona. The light stays on yellow for about 5 nanoseconds then goes to red.
They'll never catch me though because a couple of years ago, some road debris came up and hit my license plate and bent it in such a way that you can't really read one of the license plate numbers from the angle that the red-light camera is pointing. I realized what a great thing a bent license plate could be so decided not to fix it.
Puts a new twist on 'bending the laws'.
Translation: As with any new ordinance, we would always look for ways to
make improvements make money, particularly if it involves public safety city revenue.
In Germany in 1997 they were modifying traffic lights at selected intersections to give a signal that right-on-red was allowed.
They were adopting the idea from the former German Democratic Republic.
You'd do that about once in this neighborhood. Wouldn't leave much for me to think about.
The law in New York, as in every single place in the United States, is you stop, then you can turn right on red as long as there's no sign saying "NO TURN ON RED"
>>So, you pull up to a redlight, then simply pull straight on through while the light is on red<<
Not if there are cops around. I live in Washington state. There is no real rule of law here since the current governor was "elected". They'll still ticket you if they catch you though...
no sir, not in manhattan.
So does this excluding the right on red thing apply to california too? because today the light was yellow so i slowed down and turned right, cause the light was yellow but i think as i was passing thru or something the light turned red cause there was a flash from the camera! this was on gridley ave. and south street in the city of cerritos.....please give me some info!