Skip to comments.Red light camera monkey business may be a national trend
Posted on 04/14/2008 4:09:35 PM PDT by Disambiguator
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 3ssignificantly 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 revenuetheNewspaper 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.
Thieving #$@^%&*()@! (Fill in the blank, it will only be half as good as they deserve)!
The people who do this stuff should be prosocuted and jailed. This is just as much theft as someone who robbs a 7/11. Local government can be just as corrupt and tyrannical as the federal government, but they don’t always have the legislative restraints. Put them away as the despicable criminals they are.
Before it's too late...
‘’......short-timing their own yellow lights below legal levels..”
I wonder how many traffic collisions/injuries/deaths this may have caused.
I’m thinking an initiative petition to make that kind of monkeying a felony and not covered by sovereign immunity protection. As much as I don’t like how Florida’s i-p process ends up directly in the Constitution, this is a time that I could support such a measure.
Here is a British site, showing that when people have finally had enough of this nonsense, what they can do about it:
Note: there are so many pictures, they have subdivided it into four pages. While somewhat repetitive, it is an enjoyable site.
Before it's too late...
Now the wall streeters wanna be tycoons will be after you. After all business can do no wrong.
It can if it has the partnership of a helpful government pointing a gun at your head to guarantee your "business"...
I whole heartedly support vandalism of red light cameras.
I’m a law and order guy, but government will push as far as it can and sooner or later it goes too far.
Funny. I don't hate them at all. You see I never enter an intersection when the light is red (except for very polite - never make the other guy even have to think about stepping on his brakes - right turns on red). So as long as the picture shows the red light and indicates how long the since the light went red I have no problem with cameras intended to catch idiots.
Maybe there is hope for our British cousins, after all.
The main issue isn’t the cameras per se, but the shortening of the yellows to generate more revenue without enhancing safety at all, and in fact, creating a more hazardous situation. Safety is allegedly why the cameras are put up in the first place. Governments wouldn’t lie about these things, would they?
I can enter an intersection on a green light, have it turn yellow and red before I get to the other side. I can’t just dash through across culverts and around corners in a motorhome.
There is a reason they call them “land yachts”.
I remember reading about a city pulling the light cameras out because they were TOO honest. Cops gave out more tickets.
Lights here that I have driven by for almost ten years have been re-timed to change at random rather than with the pressure switched. Thereby making motorists use MORE gas, increasing tax revenue.
I’ve got to learn how to make an EMP gun for the vehicle.
Governments can and will. but that doesn't make red-light-cameras an inherently bad idea. Such logic would make everything any government does a bad idea. (Hmmmm?)
switched = switches
Several other studies are linked at this FR post (#18) .
"That government is best which governs least."