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I now hate cameras at red lights

kcgman2010-08-18 02:44:00 +0000 #1
Another post by someone made me think of my family's experience with cameras set up in a nearby city that are intended to catch people running red lights. Rather than thread jack my fellow e90post member's post, I've decide to rant in a post of my own. Let the catharsis begin...

My wife was driving home late at night this past winter on a day in which it had snowed quite a bit. The nearby city had made a conscious decision not to snow plow. They said that they thought that the snow would offer better traction than the ice underneath it. She was driving 35 in a 45 zone due to the conditions. The light up ahead turned red. She applied her breaks and...nothing. She slid into the intersection and then, when a quarter of the way into the intersection she accelerated to make it through the rest of the way. Everyone was fine. Only one other car was at the intersection and they saw it all unfolding, because they didn't even budge when their light turned green... until after my wife had passed through.

Unfortunately for us, this particular light had a camera, and three weeks later my wife got a ticket in the mail. It showed a picture of where she was when the light turned red and showed her in the intersection. It also registered her speed (i.e. 32 mph is what I recall). There was also a link to a video capture. We went online and watched her moving into the intersection with her brake lights blazing in the dark of night.

We contested the ticket given that the conditions were terrible and made worse by a lack of plowing and salt on the road (I think it was budget conditions rather than any real concern for drivers that had the neighboring Mayor announce that they wouldn't be plowing for upcoming storms). Anyway, despite our protests of innocence, the city didn't care, and they got our $100.

The only other red light ticket I got was from the same camera a few months before. The car was registered to me, so I got the ticket. However, I hadn't driven the car for over a month preceding the date of the violation because I'd taken receipt of my 335d at that time. However, my wife had driven it, as had my dad (visiting from overseas) and both had driven it on the same road. Someone else had also used the car, but I don't know if they had driven in that part of town or not. Given the ticket came well over a month after the incident, I didn't know who was driving the car then. I asked both. Neither recalled running a red light. I signed the affidavit (got it notarized as required) that I wasn't the driver and explained that multiple people could have been driving the car at the time, but that I could not have been the driver (or the passenger) as I hadn't been in the car since getting my new one. I even included evidence of the new car purchase. The letter I got back was along the lines of "you didn't fill out the form correctly, pay up." I called them and eventually got through. They said, "you have to provide a name." I said, "Send me a picture of the driver, and I'll identify them for you." They said that they don't capture driver's faces in that particular city and the angle and distance from the car made it impossible to see anything other than the fact that someone was driving the car. They left it at, "Pay up." I called a traffic lawyer and explained the situation. He said, "It'll cost you more to fight it." I said, "I don't care." He then said, "Honestly, they don't care. Just pay up." So, the city got another $100.

I hate it when people run red lights and was happy to see cameras go in at some of the offending locations. However, now I think they stink! They are applied in unreasonable ways that seem more about collecting money than improving safety and actually distributing justice.

I'd forgotten about my loathing of that out-of-state company that puts up cameras for municipalities around the country until I read a comment in another post just now. Hopefully this rant will get me back on the path to forgiveness.

Peace out.


HermesRider2010-08-18 02:46:38 +0000 #2
Sorry to hear about it. Yup, it truly is about collecting money. Nothing more, nothing less.
eisenb112010-08-18 03:07:51 +0000 #3
Over here the cameras also take a picture of the driver too. Without it, the ticket can't be issued to the appropriate person. On the downside, if you did do it, the fine is a heck of a lot more than $100.
HoustonScott2010-08-18 03:38:25 +0000 #4
It has been shown in many studies that red light camera don't increase safety they actually increase accident rates at the intersections they are installed. The main item that was found to increase safety at intersections was to extend the length of the yellow by half a second or more. Just a fact city fathers don't want to hear.

HS
kcgman2010-08-18 04:23:59 +0000 #5
Quote:

Originally Posted by HoustonScott

It has been shown in many studies that red light camera don't increase safety they actually increase accident rates at the intersections they are installed. The main item that was found to increase safety at intersections was to extend the length of the yellow by half a second or more. Just a fact city fathers don't want to hear.

HS

I forgot this part: The traffic light I referenced in my "rant" is one of three that occur about 3/4 of a mile apart. The other lights have warnings (an electronic sign that gives a head's up that the traffic light is going to change to red). They do this because most of the 10 miles of road are 55 mph highway.

My wife noted that the city took down the electronic warning light at this traffic light when they put up the traffic camera. She could be wrong of course, maybe they never had such a warning, and she just thought they did. But she drives that route every day so she's probably right. And besides, you'd think they'd put up a warning at that same light if it was such a problem.

Ah, but then they wouldn't get the money.

I'm back to being
SchlauCow2010-08-18 05:00:39 +0000 #6
they do suck, but it's better than paying a traffic cop and his pension.
oilfighter2010-08-18 05:36:53 +0000 #7
Be careful doing a right turn on a red light as well. Make sure to come to a complete stop, or else they'll give you a ticket. (Red light camera caught me doing just that, $75 down the drain)

While I'm sure there are studies to backup the theory that red light camera will cause more accidents, and probably an equal amount of government studies telling you that it will reduce accidents, here is my experience:

Soon after I got that ticket, at the exact same intersection, the light turned red as I was approaching to make a right hand turn, I came to a complete stop in the right turn only lane, and almost got rear ended because no one stops completely there. So, yes, in my experience, red light cameras will add danger to intersections.
John 0702010-08-18 05:49:41 +0000 #8
I'm all for red light cameras, but I also think there must be no shenanigans with the timing of the yellow (shortening them to catch more people). If the technology is working, they have no feeling nor bias. People who run the lights get a ticket (they have to have clearly been behind the stop line when the light turned red), end of story. Just because a town decided not to waive a fine doesn't mean cameras are bad. Maybe the town is bad. But then again, maybe not. My wife just passed people over a double-yellow and we got pulled over. The cop gave us a 0 pt. violation that cost $54. I'm ecstatic over it. My buddy just paid $340 in the same vicinity. When people break the law, they should learn not to. If they are let go every time, they will never adjust their behavior.
oilfighter2010-08-18 06:20:15 +0000 #9
Quote:

Originally Posted by John 070

I'm all for red light cameras, but I also think there must be no shenanigans with the timing of the yellow (shortening them to catch more people). If the technology is working, they have no feeling nor bias. People who run the lights get a ticket (they have to have clearly been behind the stop line when the light turned red), end of story. Just because a town decided not to waive a fine doesn't mean cameras are bad. Maybe the town is bad. But then again, maybe not. My wife just passed people over a double-yellow and we got pulled over. The cop gave us a 0 pt. violation that cost $54. I'm ecstatic over it. My buddy just paid $340 in the same vicinity. When people break the law, they should learn not to. If they are let go every time, they will never adjust their behavior.

Interesting you broght up the tampering of yellow light duration

blog.motorists.org/6...ht-times-for-profit/
forza19762010-08-18 06:28:24 +0000 #10
guess they cameras are doing their job. hope the lesson learned was, don't run red lights?
nhhiep2010-08-18 06:09:50 +0000 #11
I've in AZ and they have it everywhere. the only way to fight the system is ignore the letter in the mail...until they track you down and serve you...which they rarely do...
kcgman2010-08-18 03:57:30 +0000 #12
Quote:

Originally Posted by forza1976

guess they cameras are doing their job. hope the lesson learned was, don't run red lights?

Uh, where's the lesson to be learned?

A car doesn't stop when hitting black ice? Yeah, I already knew that thank you. Now tell me how to spot it at night, and I'll be more sincere in my thanks.

Or were you referring to some trick of physics in which a person can actually be at fault for running a red light when they weren't even within 20 miles of the car when it was caught running a red light?

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