Government Spending

Fighting Budget Deficits With Traffic Fines

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Angrifying* story from the A.P.:

Shomari Jennings was willing to pay the $70 ticket he received for driving without a seatbelt, but not the slew of tacked-on fees and penalties that ballooned the cost more than tenfold. Every $10 of his base fine triggered a $26 "penalty assessment" for courthouse construction, a DNA identification program, emergency medical services and other programs…

In Los Angeles, city officials are thinking about doubling red-light cameras to 64 intersections. Last year, 44,000 red-light camera tickets were issued in the city, netting more than $6 million…

The fine for running a red light is nearly $500 when city and county fees combined with various penalty assessments, which are set by the Legislature, and traffic school are factored in. The majority of the red-light camera citations, however, were for making right turns without a full stop, a $381 violation.

It's hard to keep track of all the bullshit public policy going on in this article. A $70 seatbelt violation—which shouldn't be a fine in the first place—grows to over $200 because of "penalty assessments" imposed in part to pay for the pensions and benefits of the public employees who both administer these policies, and who spent the state into oblivion in the first place. Then L.A. wants to make city roads less safe so it can collect more revenue from outrageously expensive red light camera fines.

Also, maybe I'm just not up to snuff on the latest traffic cam technology, but how is a red light camera that captures a stationary photo able to identify a motorist who failed to come to a complete stop before making an otherwise legal right turn?

(*Yes, I made this word up.)

NEXT: Schooling David Brooks (and Everybody Else) on the Causes of Economic Busts

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  1. I’m going to guess this is a post by The Jacket. Do I win teh prise?

    1. You get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!

      1. *hangs head*

        I need a bailout.

        1. You’d better return that Everlasting Gobstopper on your way out.

  2. I would be really heartbroken if these cameras were “blinded” by a well placed shot from a paintball gun.

    1. I have often wondered why this obvious expression of civil disobedience does not occur everywhere all the time.

      1. You don’t understand why people don’t shoot paintball at red-light cameras? It’s a camera, and you have to stand in front of it to hit the lens. It shouldn’t be hard to identify the culprit, since he’s on video.

        1. Perhaps, but I’m thinking that the offending camera could be hit from below, out of the angles, and the paintball could make enough of a splat to still get-r-done.

  3. You can log on to a website and see the video.

  4. It was snowing this morning where I live now, but this made me happy, once again, that I no longer live in LA County. Thanks Radley!

  5. This bullshit has been around for years. In New York, they have “processing fees” (I’m not sure if I’m remembering the name correctly) which judges are not allowed to waive, so you can get a court fine, have the judge lower it to almost nothing, and then get socked with an additional, say, $250, and the judge can’t do squat about it. It’s fucking criminal.

  6. Bullshittery!

  7. (*Yes, I made this word up.)

    It’s perfectly cromulent.

      1. You’re only embiggening him.

  8. Wait until they start cutting SS to pay for govt employee pensions.

  9. In Texas they are actually videos of the infraction. They even put them on a website so you can show your friends.

  10. How is this remotely legal? Shit, how is it even constitutional?

    We’re well past the point where we should have been storming the castle, I fear.

    1. The argument for the fees (some of which you have to pay even if you are found not guilty, btw) is that they are administrative assessments which do not require formal judicial process. Since driving has been ruled a privilege and not a right, the state is free to slap whatever administrative penalties they want on the people they license to drive.

      1. It’s just like when the cable company thinks you made a late payment, and charges you a penalty, but then you prove that you did indeed make your payment on time, and they charge you a penalty-removal fee instead.

        Wait, what?

  11. (*Yes, I made this word up.)

    Mr. Balko, urban dictionary would like a word.

    1. They don’t have enough words already?

  12. From the LA City Council: “We have examined the practices of Ticketmaster. They charge several different fees on top of the cost of the ticket. We think it is only right that we should be able to charge additional fees for our tickets.*
    (*I made this up too)

  13. Wait until they start cutting SS to pay for govt employee pensions.

    If I were they, I’d inflate away everyone’s retirement savings over a decade or so, raise SS payments (in nominal dollars) continually and, gradually, over the course of about another 10 years, restrict eligibility until almost no one qualifies for it.

    By then, a large majority of citizens will work for the government, and you can Ponzi their pensions (and the VAT-funded rump of SS) around for a few decades while you cook up Plan C.

    Like, an internal genocide. Or go join someone else’s. Whatever’s around.

    1. +1 Some badass inflation wouldn’t be so bad right now.

      1. You do know that SS is automatically tied to inflation right? except when there’s deflation & it’s tied to political favors.

  14. Then L.A. wants to make city roads less safe so it can collect more revenue from outrageously expensive red light camera fines.

    Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence. You have to show that not only do the RLCs increase the number of accidents, but increase them enough to make up for the significantly higher damage due to head-on and T-bone collisions that the RLCs discourage.

    1. Also, I question the use of the phrase “red light camera fines”. A motorist who runs a red light in front of a cop receives the same fine as one who does it in front of a camera.

      Of course the problem with this is, if you call it a “red light running fine” it sounds more reasonable since even libertarians agree on the need for those types of traffic laws to be enforced. But calling it a “camera fine” makes it sound like the depths of tyranny since libertarians hate cameras for some reason I’m not yet familiar with.

      1. Also, I question the use of the phrase “red light camera fines”. A motorist who runs a red light in front of a cop receives the same fine as one who does it in front of a camera.

        At least in Illinois, red light camera tickets are not moving violations. They don’t count against your driving record and they aren’t reported to your insurance.

        They would be if you get caught by a cop running the lite.

        Red light tickets are just like parking tickets — the owner of the vehicle is responsible for it regardless of who was driving.

        1. OK, so in this case you’re actually better off getting caught by a camera (assuming that the fine is the same). My problem is with the dark undertones Reason always imbues these stories with, as if red light cameras are the vanguard of totalitarianism.

          1. If you are the person who runs the red light, you are better getting caught by the camera … especially if you’re drunk, high, riding in a stolen car, wanted on outstanding warrants, etc.

        2. Red light tickets are just like parking tickets — the owner of the vehicle is responsible for it regardless of who was driving

          That is not true. Due process – the state must prove every element of an offense against you. If you were not operating the vehicle, you did not commit the offense of driving through a red light.

          Of course, if you claim it wasn’t you driving, I suppose they could create a rebuttable presumption that it was you, since it was your car, and you would have the burden of proving it wasn’t. But even that I’m no so sure of…

          1. If it’s an administrative fine, they don’t have to prove anything beyond the fact it was your vehicle. Just like with parking tickets — the city doesn’t have to prove that you were the one who parked the car there.

      2. Also, I question the use of the phrase “red light camera fines”. A motorist who runs a red light in front of a cop receives the same fine as one who does it in front of a camera.

        Orlando, like many other cash-strapped municipalities, issues the fines as a code violation rather than a moving violation. Orlando does this as an attempt to skirt around the fact that Florida law does not authorize red light cameras.

      3. I would not pretend to speak for all libertarians, but for my part there isn’t a difference in principle; using traffic “safety” as a source of revenue is bullshit regardless of which tools are used.

        I have a concern with the increasing ubiquity of the cameras, their use as pickpockets, and my suspicion that the government is attempting to habituate us to their use so that said use can be expanded without limit.

      4. Duh:

        “You’ve stolen my soul!”

        1. (supposed to have …libertarians hate cameras for some reason… in the above)

    2. That would be the collectivist point of view, yes. But if you, as I, view it as outrageous that would endanger citizens for the purpose of revenue collection, regardless of the collectivist cost/benefit analysis you are spewing, then it this abominable.

      1. Citizens who follow the law and don’t try to speed through yellows before changing their minds at the last minute aren’t going to be endangered.

        If anything, the POV that the government shouldn’t enforce any law that might make an idiot cause an accident because of his or her idiotic driving deficiencies, is the collectivism that reeks here.

        1. Citizens who follow the law and don’t try to speed through yellows before changing their minds at the last minute aren’t going to be endangered.

          I don’t give a flip about the people who decide to “gun it” when they see the yellow light (which, by the way, is a rational decision to avoid the fine). What I care about is the jackass who guns it hitting me, the innocent person.

    3. Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence.

      Facts in evidence.

      1. Really? Rear-end collisions increased! What a surprise!

        What about T-bones and head-ons? Oh. They don’t seem to deal with that.

        1. The results of this study suggest that the installation of the RLC at these sites did not provide any reduction in accidents, rather there has been increases in rear end and adjacent approaches accidents on a before and after basis…”
          You should probably read the links before commenting on them. Okaly dokaly?

          1. Ouch – I could hear that bitchslap from here.

          2. I did read that, Citizen Flanders. The part that you have emboldened does not contradict my position. It’s likely they’re talking about aggreagate number of accidents, not individual totals for each type of accident.

        2. Yeah, but the point is that RLC increase relatively harmless rear-end collisions, and decrease the much more dangerous head-on and T-bone collisions.

          RLC are a net gain for safety. Are people really claiming the right to run red lights? Really?

          1. @qwerty: The quote says, “there has been increases in rear end and adjacent approaches accidents on a before and after basis.” This means that “adjacent approach” crashes, i.e., T-bone and side impact crashes, were increased as well.

            1. Do they mean increases in rear end accidents, and increases in adjacent approach accidents — or do they mean increases in the combined total of rear end and adjacent approach accidents.

              I really doubt it’s the former. Adjacent approach accidents occur only when one or both of the vehicles involved is running a red light, so it’s hard to see how the existence of a RLC is going to encourage that.

          2. Burkey-Obeng study. Langland-Orban, Pracht, and Large report. VDOT. Ontario (old).

            Independent academics find total number of accidents up, number of injury/death accidents up, cost to insurerers of accidents way up, and comparative severity of injuries too close to call.
            I dont know how anyone familiar with the literature could say “RLC are a net gain for safety” unless relying only on the what gets republished by the IIHS and camera vendors.

      2. A more specific study

        Crash effects detected were consistent in direction with those found in many previous studies: decreased right-angle crashes and increased rear end crashes. The economic analysis examined the extent to which the increase in rear end crashes negates the benefits for decreased right-angle crashes. There was indeed a modest aggregate crash cost benefit of RLC systems even when accounting for the negative impact of rear end collisions.

        1. This article
          http://health.usf.edu/NR/rdonl…..matted.pdf
          lists 6 specific methodological problems with FHWA-HRT-05-048, including essentially cherry-picking sites to study.
          “Correct reporting of research findings
          requires providing sufficient detail to allow
          other researchers to validate conclusions. It
          is impossible to replicate this study or to reanalyze
          the findings.” they say.

    4. How do red light cameras “discourage” head-on and t-bone accidents? Do you honestly believe that somebody approaching an intersection 2-3 seconds late says “I don’t mind getting killed, but I really don’t want a fine, so I’ll stop”, or “since there isn’t a red light camera, I’ll go ahead and but my family in a probable death situation so that I don’t have to stop”.

      I’ve seen several studies that show T-bone accidents are not reduced by red light cameras, probably because people who get into an intersection late enough to have such accidents are not paying attention, and therefore neither red light camera nor threat of death can dissuade them.

      1. They don’t. A large portion of the tickets aren’t even issued for balls-out red light running. They’re for rolling right-hand turns on red lights. In addition, even the non-right-turn tickets are for cars that slightly push the envelope on a red light. Anecdotal evidence even bears this out:

        How many times do you see a person run a red light long after it’s gone red– ie, by the time cross traffic has a chance to start moving or come to full speed? I live in a dense, urban area… I almost never see this.

        Now how many times do you see people squeaking through the intersection just after the light goes red, before cross traffic can even start to move. All the time.

        In general, the squeakers aren’t the ones causing grisly accidents. So the reason almost every study shows zero to almost statistically insignificant decrease in accidents (and in some cases increases in rear-end accidents) is because so few people run red lights in the first manner.

        Seattle has begun installing these red light cameras– there is one right at the bottom of my hill. Anecdotally, the intersection has become considerably more dangerous– including for pedestrians due to the red light camera. The camera now prompts a lot of nervous, false starts, panic dashes when the light goes yellow, and pedestrian close-calls due to drivers making a panic unprotected left, watching the light status and ignoring pedestrians on the crosswalk they’re about to drive over.

        But alas, we have a fucking transportation secretary that believes minimum speed limits exist on highways because its safter to drive faster.

    5. The University of North Carolina studied intersections with red light cameras in Alexandria, VA before and after their installations and found that not only did accidents increase after the cameras were installed, but the number of serious-injury accidents increased significantly also. These results have been corroborated by other studies in different cities. Three studies have found that red light cameras reduce accidents, but these were all done by the same man.

  15. I would say we could break these cities and states if we just played by their rules and got enough people to be annoyingly safe drivers. But, they will just institute new laws until everyone is guilty of something. Fuckers.

  16. Also, maybe I’m just not up to snuff on the latest traffic cam technology, but how is a red light camera that captures a stationary photo able to identify a motorist who failed to come to a complete stop before making an otherwise legal right turn?

    In Illinois, the red light cameras have humans who review the video.

    So when the camera senses that someone has gone through a red-light, the video is sent to the a tech to review it. If the tech watches the tape and concludes that you didn’t come to a full stop, but instead rolled the red-light they send the ticket out to the violator.

    The “scofflaw” then gets a notification and there’s a website that you can review the images and the video and decide if you want to fight it. In Illinois, currently if you decide to fight it, there is a $100 administrative fee added (I think that fee is waived if you win, but if you lose, your $100 ticket costs you $200 if you choose to go to a hearing)

    It was reported that the contract for the red-light camera operators demands a 90 (or maybe 95 cant remember the exact number but it was really high) conviction rate or the company gets dinged financially — so there is some incentive to only send out legit red light tickets.

    Also because of outrage by motorists in Illinois, the State Senate, just yesterday, passed a bill that would do some minor reforms. It would repeal the administrative fee for fighting the ticket, and also ticketing for stopping over the line before turning right on red, would be banned completely.

    I don’t personally like or agree with red-light camera but they really aren’t that hard to avoid as long as you pay attention when you drive.

    One suburb — Schaumburg — removed their red light cameras. It’s a shopping destination suburb and the mayor stated that he didn’t want to gain revenue on the backs of consumers coming to spend their money in Schaumburg and risk losing those consumers if they choose to shop elsewhere to avoid the red light cameras.

  17. My wife, son and I were eating breakfast in Berkeley a few weeks ago, and came out to find that our car had what we thought at first was a parking ticket, even though we were properly parked, our license tags were current, and there was still time on the meter. Lo and behold, we were being charged $25 for lack of a front license plate — which we never had, as it was neither affixed to nor supplied with the car when we bought it, used.

    We surmised that Berkeley was especially interested in making sure that cars had front plates, so that their stoplight-cameras would more efficiently extract revenue from the population.

    The car in question is 20 years old, and obviously never received such a ticket before, as replacing the missing plate is part of the penalty. We had the car for almost two years before the ticket in Berkeley. It seems clear that front-plate enforcement hasn’t historically been a big deal. But with the proliferation of red-light cameras, it might become a bigger one.c Is anyone else noticing an increase in front-plate enforcement?

    1. LAPD has been doing it for years. They are the only agency that does it is a primary violation in southern california. Other police departments usually do it as a secondary violation….
      LAPD traffic is on a monthly statistical cycle, so I have noticed that most of the tickets for “no front plate” are issued in the last 7 days of the month…

  18. I learned a long time ago that it’s not the violation as much as it’s the opportunity to raise fees. Back in the day (about 10-15 years ago) I got a ticket for doing 80 in a 70, but I had a clean record and figured I could just take the driving class and be fine. Silly me, the “fees” for the driving class option were exactly the same as the amount of the fine, the only benefit being that my insurance wasn’t affected. I literally felt violated when I got off the phone with the bureaucrat and realized what was going on. It’s not surprising that it’s probably worse now.

    Nowadays I see traffic violations as almost a reverse lottery. Everyone is doing it, but YOU SIR are lucky enough to get chosen to contribute financially to the county. Thanks for playing and drive again soon!

  19. Those intersections don’t just do still photos. They have video cameras as well. I know, because I was permitted to watch a video of myself running a red light last year.

  20. I should also point out, though, that traffic court is one of the last places where the everyman can fight back against the system if he’s willing to spend some time doing it.

    Most traffic courts, especially in large cities, are built around the premise that the people being exploited just want the whole experience to be over with, so basically the whole enterprise is just a big cash register: show up, enter a plea, the judge stamps your receipt ticket, and you go to the cashier. And the prosecutors are typically law school flunkees who couldn’t get a real legal job and are just going through the motions.

    Thing is, it’s very easy to defend oneself by requesting a jury trial and then pestering the city prosecutor with an inordinate amount of discovery requests and motions. They’ll think it’s funny for about 10 minutes and then they start getting annoyed and eventually (after making you come back 2-3 days in a row) drop the charges because they don’t want to deal with you. You’re a wrench in their well-oiled collections machine and not worth the trouble.

    You just have to have the time and patience to wait them out and most people don’t.

    That said I haven’t heard of “fees” being assessed for just making you come to court. That would almost make me go Joe Stack if I wrongly got a ticket and still got stuck with a bill. Whoo boy, that would get me mad.

    1. Unfortunately, there is no right to a jury trial in California for a traffic infraction..

  21. To a certain extent, I think the beef that some people have with red light cameras is just the fact that they now have an increased potential of getting caught driving through a red light.

    As much as I have heavily libertarian-leaning tendencies, I have yet to fully grok the outrage over RLCs. Either way, whether it’s a cop physically sitting there, or a camera, it’s illegal to run a red light. So why the outrage if this is an issue only if you’re running through red lights (i.e., breaking the law – and in this case, it’s not some dopey, stupid, arbitrary law)?

    I can’t see it as a 4th Amendment issue, because I can’t see what reasonable expectation of privacy you have at an intersection, while you’re blasting through a red light.

    And everyone is NOT doing it. Where I live, I see a lot of people run red lights all the damn time – it seems like a local past time. But I and plenty of other drivers don’t. Red light = stop. Seems pretty simple to me.

    Anyhow, I suppose I’m open to being convinced how this is a huge infringement on my inherent individual liberties, but as yet, I’m not seeing it. Enlighten me.

    1. To a certain extent, I think the beef that some people have with red light cameras is just the fact that they now have an increased potential of getting caught driving through a red light.

      Absolute BS. These cameras are a bad idea because they put into place a perverse set of incentives to drive erratically when approaching an intersection.

      1. I think you meant for that period to be a colon, since what followed it was an example of “Absolute BS”.

        1. Red light cameras add a different set of circumstances to approaching an intersection. How people react to that, I can’t say. So, yes, it was classic bullshit speculation.

    2. Either way, whether it’s a cop physically sitting there, or a camera, it’s illegal to run a red light.

      But only a cop can pull you over, thereby defeating the purpose of running the red light. By the time you get a red light camera ticket in the mail, you may not even remember who was driving the car at that time (yeah, maybe you do remember, I’m just saying). Also, a red light camera can’t smell the booze on your breath or check for outstanding warrants, etc. There’s really no substitute for actual police work.

    3. All of the data (as opposed to anecdotes and feelings) indicate that if driver safety is affected, it is to make people less safe by increasing the number of rear-endings that happen at intersections with such cameras. My understanding is that there are few studies and even fewer where there is a statistically significant trend. However, there should be LOTS of data as almost every newspaper reports local traffic accidents.

      If you take public safety gains out of the equation, the only justification is revenue gains. Even the data on net revenue is pretty lame.

  22. One thing I dislike about red light cameras is that people cut through neighborhoods to avoid them. I live in a neighborhood that used to have very little traffic. A red light camera went up a few blocks away, and now I live on a busy street.

    1. Then get the city to put speed bumps on your street.

      I must say, you have to be a pretty huge idiot to make a detour to avoid a red light camera. Making sure to stop when the light turns red takes a lot less time than driving on narrow side streets.

      1. They just added one of those radar gun signs that tells you how fast you’re going. It’s a classy touch to the neighborhood.

      2. I suspect you’re not a resident of Los Angeles or a huge city. It’s easy to avoid a red light ticket if you’re turning right or going straight through. But if you’re at a busy intersection during rush hour, trying to make a left, you’re in the intersection when it’s green, it turns yellow, but the other direction is still trying to cram through as many cars as possible. All of a sudden, the light is red and you still can’t go through the intersection. The camera goes off, but can it prove that it wasn’t safe for you to make your turn, or that the camera knew you already in the intersection when the light was green and yellow?

        Personally I’m not willing to find out the hard way, so I never make left turns at red light cameras.

        And, while I’m sure there’s an answer out there, it’s these uncertainties that make the cameras make things more unsafe.

  23. BTW, I fully get the argument that traffic violations should not be pushed purely as a revenue-generating measure. That I get. I’m talking about RLCs, per se – not just jacking some poor schmuck up for extra fees just because he was unfortunate enough to get caught committing a traffic infraction.

  24. One word: Trapster.

    One more: TomTom.

    Very helpful in making your driving safer less expensive, by alerting you to stop for all red lights with cameras and all speed traps with cameras.

    1. You should stop for ALL red lights, cameras or not. Do you disagree with this statement?

  25. Since driving has been ruled a privilege and not a right, the state is free to slap whatever administrative penalties they want on the people they license to drive.

    “Whatever they want”?

    Well, I think I see the solution to California’s budget problem.

  26. There are several issues (and possible issues) here.

    1. The penalty schedule for getting caught running red lights is (or was) designed with the idea that you usually get away with it (because it takes a policeman being present to get caught) in mind. Applying that penalty schedule to a regime where you usually get caught is unfair. As others have noted many jurisdictions use different penalty schedule for camera based tickets, which addresses this issue.

    2. In the event that you are wrongly accused by a machine (be it a red light camera, or an automatic radar gun) it can be very hard to get any kind of hearing on the reliability of the machines. Again, in some jurisdictions efforts have been made to fix this (rigging the cameras so that they can record the actual light as well as the vehicle, for instance).

    3. The existence of the cameras is detrimental to safety. This is made worse because they are often sold to the public as a way to improve safety.

    4. Arrogance. Any police department (and there are many) which does not want you filming officers going about their duty has not the slightest business operating these things. I insist that sauce for the goose be applied to the gander as well. No compromise will be accepted.

    5. (related to the previous one) The incentives are all screwed up. Government officials feel no appreciable pressure to make these things work for the people, and plenty to make them work for the budget.

    6. Camel. Nose. Tent.

    In a utopian world these things could probably be good and good for ‘ya. but for the time being, I’d just as soon pass.

    1. Meh. 5 should be related to 3…

  27. Nobody ever pays me in gum.

  28. Georgia has an absolutely staggering array of extra fees and add-ons if you pay a traffic ticket or plead guilty to a criminal charge. Every time the legislature wants to squeeze more money out of people they add on another fee, which is then added to the slush fund and fought over, rather than being used for its intended purpose. For example there is an indigent defense fee and the money collected from that is not all used for indigent defense–it is put into the slush fund. There is also a 50% (yes 50%) surcharge on the fine for any conviction or plea to a controlled substance, including any amount of pot.

  29. $70 tenfold = $700. unless I don’t undestand the folding technology…

  30. I was in Philadelphia a few months back and saw a funeral procession going through an intersection that had a RLC. It went “flash, flash, flash, flash, etc…” I wonder how many drivers paid the fine.

  31. For kicks, look up the so-called “grace period” your community uses between the moment in time the computer switches the signal to “red” and the moment in time they count as “red” for purpose of issuing an infraction.
    Then call up the traffic maintenance department, and ask them how long it takes the LED conversion traffic lights to emit visible light after they are switched “on”.
    Yes, I know LED lights achieve full brightness much faster than incandescents. But in a conversion lamp for a traffic signal that was designed for incandescent lamps, you are not just applying voltage to an LED, you are turning on a power supply, that will then apply voltage. The different brands of lamps all have different lag before the light is visible.

    1. You’re talking about milliseconds, dude. Compared to the yellow light duration it is negligible.

      Rule of thumb: if the light turns yellow when you’re more than 2 seconds short of the intersection, you should stop. The yellow light is supposed to be a warning, not an invitation.

      1. It’s when the yellow light is actually visible relative to when you cross the stop line that is important, dude. Yes, it’s milliseconds. In lamps tested by CalTrans over 150 of them for several brands. Add that to the known reaction time, the known stopping distance from the posted speed limit for loaded vehicles, then you had better hope that the length of the yellow light has been determined by a traffic engineer and not a politician or bureaucrat. The purpose of the yellow interval is to allow traffic at the actual approach speed of the intersection to clear safely without altering its speed before the red light. But you can be sure that I now stop if-at-all-possible on any yellow, which is clearly unsafe behaviour, but it avoids tickets.

        1. you had better hope that the length of the yellow light has been determined by a traffic engineer and not a politician or bureaucrat.

          Well I’ll give an amen to that. But it’s not an inherent problem with RLCs — it’s a problem with the citizenry being too lazy and complacent to make sure their elected officials aren’t playing games with people’s safety. I’ll agree that too-short yellows are dangerous.

  32. How about this, you whining morons: QUIT RUNNING RED LIGHTS.

    If you are getting taxed by a tax on stupidity and a lack of concern for the safety others, it is your own damned fault.

    Hell, let’s raise the fines to $500 PLUS ten percent of your income. Soak the rich, baby, yeah.

    1. Hey it’s Friday, so I’ll be a stupid troll instead of stupidly naive. Word. I needs me some Brawndo.

    2. Lack of concern for the safety others?
      My community had a “red-light-running” enforcement problem that was largely because the throughput capacity of some intersections is inadequate at peak times. Drivers frustrated at not getting through the intersection even after a few green cycles of the traffic light would just convoy through after the red. This behaviour, while antisocial, illegal, and detrimental to efficient traffic flow is not (by evidence) unsafe. They brought in various camera vendors to give presentations. The town elected to go with a Red-Light camera system. Instead of these intersections, however, it installed them at each major intersection where the major commuter roads entered the town, finding that these were the real accident blackspots.
      In every case these were roads that quickly transitioned from high-speed rural roads to 35 MPH posted roads just before the intersection. The speed limit was not determined by the 80th percentile of speed in a traffic survey, nor were the speed-limit signs of appropriate size for the road-width or approach-speed.
      The yellow-interval was appropriate for single-lane intersections on 35MPH roads, not for multi-lane plus turning lanes (a much more visually confusing environment, safety requires your attention be many places at once therefore acquisition time of green-to-yellow light change is slower). Yellow light interval was also completely inappropriate for actual average speed through the intersection, as the town has done none of the standard road-engineering techniques that get people to transition from fast to slow roads.
      Now, according to *methodologically sound* studies if you follow the “traffic engineering handbook” of the Institute of Transportation Engineers you can greatly reduce the number of accidents and injuries at such an intersection, or you can do robot enforcement and reduce “infractions” but have questionable effect on the number and severity of accidents.
      The first option unambiguously saves lives.
      The second option can raise lots of revenue.

      1. They should spend the revenue from the RLC’s on paying for more Traffic Engineers. 🙂

  33. Stupid auto-correct.

  34. I was surprised that the county sheriff is trying to stop local municipalities from using speed camera’s here. I think it’s more my turf not yours than an actual dislike of the practice, but heh I’ll take it.

    http://www.stltoday.com/stltod…..enDocument

  35. Got a ticket from a STATE trooper in a suburb of Hickory, NC for my registration being expired…
    Fine = $25
    Court costs = $130

  36. I have to agree with QWERTY, are we really claiming the “right” to run red lights. Once I left my teen years, and especially after I became a parent, it started to irritate me when I saw someone racing a yellow light, only to run the red. As long as the tickets remain a non-moving violation, it’s O.K. with me. That said, piling up the admin fees on top of it is crazy. Here in Virginia you just mail in your $75 bucks and your done with it. I know, I got one. Truthfully, it’s made me more cautious about pushing the lights.

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