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Old 12-15-06, 10:36 PM   #1
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Red light cameras.

Starting next month there will be red light cameras installed at 11 intersections in Sioux City. For some reason we have a major problem with people running red lights. Not just right before they turn red when they are still yellow, I mean when they have been red from when the traffic is approaching from half a block away. Also for some reason we have drivers that stop but with half the front end in the intersection & they had plenty of time to stop behind the solid white line. We also have a major problem with drivers who creep out into the intersection while the light is still red after stopping.

I have had motorists who have gone around me to run a red light at an intersection while we were stopped. They went into the oncoming lane & drove through the intersection. I have also had red light runners run the light when I am on the intersecting roadway with the green light & ROW & almost hit me. So if these intersections are along my commute route or in an area I reguarly ride this may make cycling safer in my community.

What do you feel about the red light cameras?

Not sure how I feel about them yet, time will tell. If they help make the intersections safer then no problem I'm all for it. If not then it is a waste of my tax dollars to purchase & maintain them.

I know the ACLU's position on them, they hate them & consider them a violation of civil rights. I don't see how, but ok. The least of my concerns is the ACLU's position on them & I doubt there will be much opposition to them in my area. Even if there is the city will pretty much tell the ACLU where to stick it, the cameras will be installed regardless. They are on public property, paid for with public funds for the protection of the public. What's wrong with that?

I have heard cases where the cameras helped solve a crime & saved lives.
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Old 12-15-06, 10:57 PM   #2
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Well, I have been sitting in court, waiting for my business to get called, and watched many people talking to the judge about their third photo red light violation. Why are these people always in a such a hurry? The other thing that came up regularly was drivers being on the phone. Hey, it's dangerous out there and the cameras will eventually slow it down. At least the multiple violators will lose their licenses. bk
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Old 12-15-06, 11:14 PM   #3
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I'm not fan of red light cameras. Usually, these cost the city practically nothing. A company comes in and installs them and takes a large percentage of the fine to cover their costs.

We don't have any in my area, almost, but NC law states that fines such as these have to go to the local schools with only a very small percentage going to administrative costs. When the company that installs, maintains, and sends out the tickets for Hickory NC was taken to court, it made some cities rethink them.

I don't care for them because I work in a car dealership. I know that techs have gotten tickets in customers cars before. So, if they run the light with your car...you get the ticket. Then, you have to go to court and prove that you aren't guilty. I also get several cars a week that no paper work is generated for since they are in for preliminary evaluation for problems. Without a work order as proof, you are going to have to pay or convince the dealership that the ticket is their responsibility.

Taking a day off for court may not be a problem for some, but I don't get paid if I'm not at work. It is cheaper to pay the fine. Which is what the city or town and the company who makes the profit from the camera ticket fees is counting on.
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Old 12-15-06, 11:19 PM   #4
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Since nobody from the D.C. area has replied, I'll give my perspective based mostly on local news reports. Studies have shown in the area that red light cameras have actually increased traffic accidents. People are afraid of getting caught, so they slam on the brakes, causing the car behind them to crash into them.

My wife got caught by one in heavy traffic in Fairfax county. Resulted in a $50 fine but no points. She doesn't enter an intersection unless she knows that there's clearance any more though. Give and take I guess.
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Old 12-15-06, 11:34 PM   #5
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For the record, here is the ACLU's position:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ACLU
The American Civil Liberties Union does not oppose the use of such cameras for enforcing specific traffic violations, provided that the cameras capture only those images that are necessary to enforce the traffic laws. However, we are concerned about what we call 'mission creep' -- that the data collected by these cameras will be used for purposes other than tracking reckless drivers.
I'm pro-camera. I've yet to hear an argument against them that doesn't boil down to "I don't like getting tickets."
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Old 12-15-06, 11:44 PM   #6
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One of our company drivers got a ticket from a red light camera... it was set up that not only did it photo the plate, but took a photo in the front windshield as well... It was him, and he was even smiling and laughing in the photo. Kind of hard to argue it!
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Old 12-15-06, 11:47 PM   #7
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Here is a summary of the results of some red light cameras in Portland, Oregon. It's a PDF file.

Red Light Summary

These are just the raw facts... draw your own conclusions.
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Old 12-15-06, 11:55 PM   #8
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... And an interesting article from Government Technology that discusses the issue in Portland and Washington D.C., from Jul7, 2002.

Govtech article
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Old 12-16-06, 12:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCCommuter
For the record, here is the ACLU's position:


I'm pro-camera. I've yet to hear an argument against them that doesn't boil down to "I don't like getting tickets."
Here's one. At nearly $300 per ticket, red light tickets are profit centers for certain city areas. I believe the light at 32nd and Harbor (Southbound) in National City CA has been set to periodically flash green for about 3 seconds and then immediately turn red. This would bring in lots of revenue, and most people wouldn't even know it happened until they got their ticket in the mail. The problem is, this turns lights into death traps for cyclists.

For drivers, how do you defend yourself against an event that happened two weeks ago when you weren't paying attention? Do you remember what you had for lunch two weeks ago.

Here's another one. Psychologist B.F. Skinner demonstrated 50 years ago that punishment or reward is most effective when it is given as close as possible in time to the event that is being punished or rewarded. So what does this say about the impact of deterrence when the punishment comes 2 weeks after the event?

These things are scams for cities to make more money. If they want deterrence, park a police car near the intersection. It would be a lot cheaper than the lights.
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Old 12-16-06, 12:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkS
Here's one. At nearly $300 per ticket, red light tickets are profit centers for certain city areas. I believe the light at 32nd and Harbor (Southbound) in National City CA has been set to periodically flash green for about 3 seconds and then immediately turn red. This would bring in lots of revenue, and most people wouldn't even know it happened until they got their ticket in the mail. The problem is, this turns lights into death traps for cyclists.

For drivers, how do you defend yourself against an event that happened two weeks ago when you weren't paying attention? Do you remember what you had for lunch two weeks ago.

Here's another one. Psychologist B.F. Skinner demonstrated 50 years ago that punishment or reward is most effective when it is given as close as possible in time to the event that is being punished or rewarded. So what does this say about the impact of deterrence when the punishment comes 2 weeks after the event?

These things are scams for cities to make more money. If they want deterrence, park a police car near the intersection. It would be a lot cheaper than the lights.

My town used to park cars along roadways and it does affect drivers. It was really funny when they parked the car across the street from my work. They sat a mannequin in the driver's seat. I've seen people turn around, stop and have their friends take a photo of them with the mannequin.
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Old 12-16-06, 12:15 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogbait
... And an interesting article from Government Technology that discusses the issue in Portland and Washington D.C., from Jul7, 2002.

Govtech article

Interesting article. It even mentions that just changing the cycle time of the yellow light reduced accidents, with the biggest reduction involving peds and cyclists.
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Old 12-16-06, 12:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogbait
Here is a summary of the results of some red light cameras in Portland, Oregon. It's a PDF file.

Red Light Summary

These are just the raw facts... draw your own conclusions.
Amazing. They turn on the cameras and immediately there's a reduction in violations. People don't even have to get their ticket in the mail to start becoming repentant. Maybe the city could have saved a bundle just by putting up "Photo enforcement" signs and a little light that flashes from time to time.

At first it looks like a real draw down of violations. But what the comparison with the baseline really shows is that real peace officers are much more effective at identifying violators than automated cameras are. The lights aren't catching more violators -- they're letting +45% off the hook.
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Old 12-16-06, 12:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkS
I believe the light at 32nd and Harbor (Southbound) in National City CA has been set to periodically flash green for about 3 seconds and then immediately turn red.
....
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Old 12-16-06, 01:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
"Camera's cause more accidents"
Only with road users who have poor driving skills/habits. If you hit someone because they slammed on the brakes, you were following too close. On the other side of the coin, with a tailgater behind them a good driver will slow down to lessen the chance of having to make a fast stop. (and then being hit)

Quote:
"It might not be me driving my car"
How often does this happen? 99 plus percent of the time the owner was driving. Or a close family member who would deserve the citation.

There's not enough cops to cover all areas. Bring on the camera's.

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Old 12-16-06, 02:09 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkS
Amazing. They turn on the cameras and immediately there's a reduction in violations. People don't even have to get their ticket in the mail to start becoming repentant. Maybe the city could have saved a bundle just by putting up "Photo enforcement" signs and a little light that flashes from time to time.

At first it looks like a real draw down of violations. But what the comparison with the baseline really shows is that real peace officers are much more effective at identifying violators than automated cameras are. The lights aren't catching more violators -- they're letting +45% off the hook.
Maybe what it really shows is just the fact that the cameras were advertised before hand was a deterrent? A city doesn't start putting in these lights with no warning at all... there's lots of discussion and plenty of argument.
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Old 12-16-06, 02:21 AM   #16
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I think redlight cameras are a great idea.

I also think unmanned, portable, speed detectors, coupled to a camera, with a data link to a control point are another great idea.

The ACLU is way off base being against this kind of technology. Since when is endangering other road users a civil right?

The technology is there to punish bad drivers and it would easily pay for itself.
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Old 12-16-06, 04:51 AM   #17
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Time and again it has been demonstrated that people generally will NOT obey laws if they think they can get away with it, and they kid themselves into beleiving that there risk of running a red light, speeding, having a couple of drinks, answering the phone, etc. is negligible.

The more cameras the better, they should be on every single intersection. The technology also exists to breathalyse the driver before the engine can be started, electronic speed limiting on cars, and cellphone signal blocking while the car is in motion. All these measures should be implemented as well.
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Old 12-16-06, 05:42 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCCommuter
For the record, here is the ACLU's position:


I'm pro-camera. I've yet to hear an argument against them that doesn't boil down to "I don't like getting tickets."
Well, I guess you aren't listening then. Many of the critics of red light cameras never got a ticket at a red light before or after the cameras, myself included.

I would have to see numbers to say whether a particular city's implementation acomplished the desired goal. I will say that from what I observed in Baltimore. It was a big flop at least for a while. The situation seems to have improved since then however.

There are two potential problems as I see it:
1. They paid an outside company to run the program and their pay was based number of tickets issued, not on achieving compliance or reducing the number of accidents. So if they got people to actually comply they didn't get paid! As a result they started messing with the length of the yellow to be able to issue more tickets. Lights were timed to have a yellow that was shorter than legally allowed.
2. People became paranoid about getting a ticket and were stopping too abruptly for fear of getting a ticket. This was made far worse by the nonsense going on as a result of the tampering with the length of the yellow.

The net result was a profit for the camera company and less safe intersections.

The obvious answer would be to:
1. Set standards as to the timing of the lights and rigidly follow them.
2. Pay the camera company either a flat fee or pay them extra for reducing the number of violators and/or for reducing the number of accidents.

All of this assumes that the desired result is safer intersections and reduction of the number of red light runners. Unfortunately in some jurisdictions that may be the stated purpose, but revenue may be the actual purpose.
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Old 12-16-06, 06:46 AM   #19
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In Fairfax City, red light cameras, while a boon to revenue for the money-sucking vacuum which is the government, increased the occurrence of rear end collisions by 33% at intersections where they were placed. The were removed.
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Old 12-16-06, 06:53 AM   #20
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I'm not a huge fan of red light cameras on principle. The fact that it is a 3rd party private firm for one, and the fact that they had to change the law to make them legal for another.

But it is sad these days that at intersections without cameras you pretty much have to count to 10 after getting the green just to be safe. I am amazing how much people run red lights, not even almost red yellow lights but blow through the intersections after it has been red.

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Old 12-16-06, 06:58 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmostTrick


Quote:
"It might not be me driving my car"



How often does this happen? 99 plus percent of the time the owner was driving. Or a close family member who would deserve the citation.

There's not enough cops to cover all areas. Bring on the camera's.
I guess the the motto should be: Better to hang one innocent man than risk letting 99 murderers live.
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Old 12-16-06, 09:24 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CommuterRun
The ACLU is way off base being against this kind of technology. Since when is endangering other road users a civil right?
The ACLU is not against them. Read the quote again.
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Old 12-16-06, 09:42 AM   #23
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I am absolutely against them - and any other technology that forces you to prove your innocence.

So you want to improve safety around traffic lights? Easy

Make all yellow lights longer, and make them all the exact same length.

Problem solved.

----

Cameras are the antithesis of this approach. They put dollar signs in people's eyes, often resulting in shorter yellow lights and increased risk of accident around the light - all to generate a few more dollars. Don't be fooled by the "the money is going to schools argument". The budget of the school system doesn't increase when fines or lottery money is added. Their primary funding is just cut and they end up with about the same amount in the end.
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Old 12-16-06, 09:48 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmostTrick
Only with road users who have poor driving skills/habits. If you hit someone because they slammed on the brakes, you were following too close.
While that might be the legal definition, anyone who drives in heavy traffic understands the flaws of the argument.

On most heavy-traffic roads, it is impossible to maintain a "safe" distance. As soon as you do, someone will move into the opening. You should have a reasonable expectation that other drivers will behave in a predictable manner. Someone who slams on brakes as soon as a light turns yellow deserves at least part of the liability.
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Old 12-16-06, 10:13 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkaapcke
Well, I have been sitting in court, waiting for my business to get called, and watched many people talking to the judge about their third photo red light violation. Why are these people always in a such a hurry? The other thing that came up regularly was drivers being on the phone. Hey, it's dangerous out there and the cameras will eventually slow it down. At least the multiple violators will lose their licenses. bk

Actually, probably none of them will. Because it is impossible to confront the accuser in a photo violation, most of the jurisdictions have intentionally made a red light photo violation a no-points civil code matter, eliminating the burden of proof otherwise necessary to win otherwise. Red light cameras do nothing to improve safety. Their sole purpose is to generate revenue. The best protest is to run every read light in a photo jursdiction on your bike. Put a little dent in the revenue generation.
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