Transportation Policy

More Fights Over Red Light Cameras


A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says red light cameras save lives.

Red light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest US cities, a new analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. Had cameras been operating during that period in all large cities, a total of 815 deaths would have been prevented.

"The cities that have the courage to use red light cameras despite the political backlash are saving lives," says Institute president Adrian Lund.

The Washington Post editorial board gloats:

Those findings will be discomfiting to the scofflaws and libertarians who have long believed they have a God-given right to run red lights without the nuisance of risking a fine. They have felt put upon that the government is somehow invading their privacy by training cameras on intersections or "profiting" from the resulting fines. Never mind that in the great majority of cases, the real victims are not the drivers who ignore the red lights; rather, they are the pedestrians, cyclists and drivers of other vehicles who are run over, rammed, maimed and killed by the red-light runners.

The rationale for red-light cameras is firmly grounded in common sense. Police can't be everywhere, and officers should not be diverted from high-crime areas to police every high-risk intersection. As practically anyone who travels in and around the District can see for themselves, drivers tend to decelerate and exercise caution in red-light and speed-camera zones—which are listed on the police department's Web site. The result: slower-moving traffic and fewer fatal accidents.

Gnashing their teeth at Big Brother's supposed intrusion, opponents of the cameras have argued that the cameras violate their privacy or that local governments use them simply to generate revenue. But there are plenty of examples of government levying fines to promote public safety—think of hunting violations, or unsafe job-site conditions—and there's no greater reason to impugn officials' motives in deploying the cameras than any in other areas of public safety administration.

Actually, the argument is that there's good evidence showing that lengthening yellow times is a far better way to prevent intersection accidents than red light cameras. It's more effective, and doesn't come with the creepy surveillance state vibe. Somehow, that doesn't seem as appealing a policy to city governments. Another reason we critics have impugned the motives of public officials is that several cities have been caught shortening yellow times at intersections after they've been outfitted with cameras. That would seem to be a pretty good indication of a government that values revenue more than safety.

There's nothing in the IIHS study about how many lives would be saved if the cities surveyed had lengthened their yellows instead of installing cameras. And over at the National Motorists Association, James Baxter argues that study's "lives saved" figures are also flawed.

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  1. the creepy surveillance state vibe

    To most cities and states, this is a feature, not a bug.

  2. Those findings will be discomfiting to the scofflaws and libertarians who have long believed they have a God-given right to run red lights without the nuisance of risking a fine.


    1. Can the media get any more statist?

      1. Yes, every week.

      2. They are certainly liberal and pro Democratic. But even more than that, they just fucking love the govenrment and government control of the American people. Now, they will object to things the government does to foreigners like wars and such. But they have never seen a method of control placed upon the American people by the government that they didn’t love. And they are very bipartisan about it. I don’t know that red light cameras are more likely to be favored by one party or another. And neither do they. And they don’t care. For them it is just another way for the government to control people. And they love that more than anything.

        1. Well put. I’ve noticed this even with Colbert. Any time anybody, left or right, has any problem with big gov, he lampoons them. When he defended the police raid(with weapons drawn) of a health food store for possession of unpasteurized milk and portrayed the people who worked there as anti-government whackos just because they objected to having automatic weapons pointed at them for selling milk, I could not believe it.

          1. Why would a Hollywood leftie not defend people running a health food store getting guns pointed at them by the Feds? They really don’t believe in anything anymore other than their absolute loathing and distrust of the American people.

            1. “They really don’t believe in anything anymore other than their absolute loathing and distrust of the American people.”

              You know, there is little ground where I think libertarians or conservatives may have a point that cannot be ruined by some hyperbolic statement by John.

              Yes, elite Hollywood simply loathes the American people, that’s it.


              1. Their actions speak for themselves. Why else would someone like Colbert be so quick to condem people running a health food store? And yes, most coastal liberals hate the vast majority of the American people. Read the damned papers for God’s sake. Every other story is about how violent and awful everyone in the country is.

                1. I saw the Colbert episode and he seemed to be having fun with the idea of people dedicated to having unpasteurized milk. It is kind of odd. Sure, he should have seen that, strange or not, such heavy handed tactics are disturbing, but he went with the low hanging fruit. If “the media” is anything it is lazy, not worshipful of government.

                  Conservative scholars like Robert Lichter have actually done quite a bit of studies showing how much more negatively government is portrayed by Hollywood now than decades ago. Part of the production code was that government “authorities” had to be portrayed in a flattering light. That really started to change after Nixon.

                  1. In old comics under their code the cops and military and government were almost always good guys, very few were corrupt. Now it’s common to have them be depicted as crooks and liars. Conservatives often use this to demonstrate how left the comics have become!

              2. Yes,

                Elite Hollywood loathes the American people. MNG have you missed the last 30 years of film making where the quickest way to an Oscar is to make a movie about how horrible and disfunction America is? The people who made and gave awards to movies like American Beauty do not hold the general population in particularly high esteem.

                1. A bigger theme in movies is how awful our government is. Movies, even ones like the Rambo films, show the government as duplicitous and corrupt as a matter of course now.

                  And nice of you to shift the goal posts, from media loves government to media hates the American people.

                  1. There was a nice content analysis of the WSJ editorial page and that of the NYT during W and Clinton’s terms. They found that the WSJ page was less critical of the W admnistration than the NYT of the Clinton administration, but both were critical of both administrations more than your simplistic slogans suggest.

                    1. Yeah. they are totally unbiased. that is why the NYT blamed the Tuscon shootings on Sarah Palin. And sure they were critical of Clinton, for not being leftist enough. It is not like they were criticizing him from the right.

                    2. Actually the study I read found that the WSJ was more likely to criticize Bush from the right when they did than the Times was to criticize Clinton from the left.

                  2. The goal posts didn’t shift at all. You are just too dishonest to argue the point. People like Colbert think most of America is ignorant and violent. They therefore have never seen a government control they didn’t like.

                    1. And yet Colbert is regularly critical of Bush and Obama administration policies! Would you like a list of those policies? See, I regularly watch the show and unlike you know wtf I’m talking about.

                    2. I didn’t say he wasn’t critical of policies. I am sure he is very critical of things that harm foreigners. But there is no form of control that he doens’t think is good for the American people. When you operate from the default position that 90 percent of America is violent and racist, you are going to tend to agree with laws that control that population. Even if you don’t agree with everything the government does.

                    3. I’ve seen him very critical of many domestic policies. Shall I name them or do you just want to back down and admit you don’t watch him regularly?

                    4. He thinks it is okay for the feds to shove guns in people’s faces to keep them from selling raw milk. That tells you all we need to know. the fact that he is pissed about the lack of single payer healthcare or thinks taxes are too low and that is causing the budget deficit, doesn’t help much.

                    5. Yes, you don’t know wtf you are talking about, as usual.

                      For the record Colbert is to the left. He does criticize Obama both on foriegn and domestic policy, but yes usually from the left. He also criticizes state and local government usually from the left (though he has criticized leftist insanity like the happy meal ban).

                      Of course when W was Prez he criticized many, many government policies.

                      It’s just overly simplistic to say “the media loves government.” They love some of what it does and hate some of what it does, like most people.


                  There’s one study by Lichter. He has several books on the subject too. He runs a right-leaning think tank btw.

                  1. Watch the CNN coverage of the moron in the Clinton Whitehouse who asked the four star general for a glass of wine. That woman is an idiot. But the CNN coverage is “everyone makes mistakes”. Contrast that with the coverage of Quayle mispelling potatoe or anything Sarah Palin has ever said. My God if Sarah Palin had done that, she would have been brutalized. But a Demcorat show an astounding like of culture and knowledge and it is “everyone makes mistakes”.

                    That even alone says all you need to know about media bias. And also, other than Bernard Goldberg, name one reporter who, when the masked slipped didn’t turn out to be a liberal? They always are liberal. Over 90 percent of them vote Democrat. You can’t tell me that doesn’t affect their coverage or if it was the other way you wouldn’t be screaming bloody murder. You only are able to convince yourself they are not biased because you honestly don’t understand what fair coverage would look like

                    1. You’re just peddling anecedotes.

                      It’s true that when it can be identified most reporters lean/register/vote Democrat. But that does not necessarily mean their coverage is slanted that way. Most journalism schools push the long held standard of striving for objectivity and fairness, it’s a professional ethos with some traction.

                      You’re making the same mistake that many liberals make when they insist the MSM is conservative because it is funded largely by corporate advertisers who tend to lean conservative. Both sides need to actually look at studies of the coverage itself.

                    2. But anicdotes can show the truth, especially when they happen over and over. If Valerie Jerrett were a Republican she would be a national punch line. She would be run out of public life. Instead, the media either doens’t cover it or makes excuses for her. Every Republican in my lifetime who so much as made one public mistep has been tagged as being stupid. Yet, Jerrett goes merely on even though she is obviously a ignorant philistine. That is bias and there is no other way to explain it.

                    3. And lets see how many Democratic Presidents have had a major network try to sabotage their campaigns by releasing fabricated documents? Gee not a one. Yet somehow CBS did that to Bush. Just an accident. An anicdote. Nothing to see there. Could have happened to any candidate.

                3. Isn’t America (and everyone everywhere) that horrible and dysfunctional?

                  I think that it is less that the media loves government control over people as they just love being able to report on things as if they are the serious, grown up people who are willing to talk about the serious grown up solutions. That, combined with institutional biases that the media have leads to what we see now.
                  So let’s all get along. The media is lazy and loves government.

              3. Yes, elite Hollywood simply loathes the American people, that’s it.


                We do.

        2. “They are certainly liberal and pro Democratic.”

          [citation needed]

          1. Yeah the Washington Post is pro Republican. That is why they have endorsed so many Republican candidates. So is the New York Times for that matter.

            It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat the lie MNG, no one will believe it if it is that rediculous. Yeah, nothing liberal about the Washington Post. That is amazingly stupid even for you.

            1. Of course you actually have no idea how many R’s they’ve endorsed compared to D’s. You’ve just been spoon fed the simplistic “leftist MSM” media and lapped it up.

              1. You honestly think that the Washington Post and the New York Times are not liberal newspapers? No you don’t. you know what they are. You are jsut being dishonest and trolling.

                1. What do you mean “liberal newspapers?” Liberal like the Washington Times is conservative? They clearly are not that. I can read Krauthammer in the WaPo and Douthat in the Times, there’s less of that in the WT.

                  The WaPo Commentary actually publishes as much if not more conservative commenters now. Even many prominent conservatives have noticed this.

                  1. We are talking about the News coverage. And if you think it is anything but tilted towards government and liberalism, you are kidding yourself. And sure they let the odd conservative write in the editorial page ghetto under the heading “not the news”. You only find that remarkable because the default position is that everyone else should shut up so liberals can explain how awful they are.

                    1. It’s going to be exceedinly hard to demonstrate news coverage itself is “biased.” For a conservative like you everytime they don’t run with the latest Brietbart boondoggle is going to seem like the MSM “ignoring” critical news, and when they run with something you find unimportant you are going to see it as them “shaping the narrative” for the left.

                      In areas where it’s more visible those papers try pretty hard to be balanced, more than one can say about many conservative media outlets like the WT.

                    2. They dont’ try hard to be balanced. And most people in the country have shut them off and don’t buy their product anymore. They are all going broke and no one but people like you who believe them no matter what listen to them anymore. The whole lot of them are going to go broke nailing themselves to the liberal ideological cross. Good riddence.

                    3. You just keep asserting it, backed by anecedote and the “common sense of God-fearin’ Americans.” They tune it out because, like you, many have fallen for a concerted right wing meme out to discredit any media source they cannot control.

                    4. I think they have tuned out the media because the people are smart enough to know when they are being lied to. You think people have tuned them out because they fell for some evil right wing plot.

                      Now which side loathes the public again? You just proved my point. thanks.

                    5. Mommy, what are those two doing? Should I be seeing this?

    2. Damn, they’re ruining the great libertarian dream of running down grannies and children in intersections without paying fines!

    3. I would actually like to see many stop signs and red lights replaced by yeild and yellow lights. If someone does not properly yeild they would be liable if an accident ensues. In many places the stop sign or red light seems to exist simply to allow ticketing.

      Also, how sad is it that for many the only question is, does it work to reduce x, as if privacy were not a valuable thing to be weighed against that.

      Lastly, simple fairness demands that something be done about the common occurrence of people seemingly going smoothly through a green when one person in the front for inexplicable reasons slows or stops leaving a person stranded in the yellow-red. Those persons should not get a ticket, and how could a camera deal with that?

      1. All of those are counter to generating revenue. Therefore, they are not viable concerns or ideas.

  3. I read up to here,

    The rationale for red-light cameras is firmly grounded in common sense.

    Seriously? Firmly grounded in subjectivity. Or do we have a metric for common sense?

    1. Damnit I’m no longer obama!!

  4. Those findings will be discomfiting to the scofflaws and libertarians who have long believed they have a God-given right to run red lights without the nuisance of risking a fine.

    Those smug jerkoffs have no idea what I believe.

    Here’s one thing I believe: when the police state cracks down on their sorry asses, they’ll wail “ooooh how did this happen?!”. And I’ll laugh.

    1. And I’ll laugh.

      And then you will be immediately beaten, thrown into a black van, and shipped to a labor camp in ANWR for laughing.

      And then I’ll cry. And then I’ll be beaten, thrown into…

      1. I’ll just keep reloading. Cause at that point what do you have to lose that isn’t lost in death.

        (I’m flexing in front of a mirror now.)

        1. You talkin’ to me?

          1. Qui mori didicit servire dedidicit.

  5. after a camera red light ticket, i removed my front plate which is a $25 fine vs $100. that was 2 yrs ago & ive been thru several safety checkpoints since w nary a word.

    1. Because not every state has front plates (e.g. Penna.) the cameras around here take back shots. A friend showed me the proof they sent him and it clearly shows the back of the car and the traffic light is red. I don’t know how they’d get proof with just a front plate shot.

  6. Lives created and/or saved, amirite?

  7. It should be intuitively obvious that imposing a totalitarian police state on the public will dramatically decrease crimes of all types.

    It’s for the children.

  8. ‘Those findings will be discomfiting to the scofflaws and libertarians who have long believed they have a God-given right to run red lights…’


    ‘scofflaw atheistic libertarians’

  9. Who cares if they work? I want to believe in magic!


  10. Those findings will be discomfiting to the scofflaws and libertarians who have long believed they have a God-given right to run red lights without the nuisance of risking a fine.

    So, at least they consider “scofflaws” and “libertarians” to be two different things?

  11. “Scofflaws and libertarians”
    Like Martin and Lewis, tea and crumpets, rama lama lama and ding a de ding a dong.
    In other news, I saw the embodiment of evil at the Horseshoe Casino in southern Indiana last week.
    Blackjack tables, but instead of dealers, they have full-sized video avatars. You put your money in a slot, are dealt electronic “cards,” and push buttons to hit/stay/double. No human interaction necessary.
    I think the Koch brothers must be behind it.

    1. (Actually, the evil geniuses at Shufflemaster Inc. seem to behind this perversion, which brings the sterility and isolation of slot machine play to the world of blackjack. Congratulations, mother fuckers.)

    2. They had those in Vegas too when I went in December. There were actually people playing at one in lieu of sitting in front of a dealer.

      Different strokes, I suppose.

      1. You don’t have to tip the video dealer.

        1. But dealers will usually say something like “are you sure” when you mess up and say “Hit Me” when you meant to say “Stand”. On video black jack, once you hit the button, that’s it.

          1. Hey, I’m all for human black jack dealers. I was just pointing out a possible line of reasoning.

        2. You have to tip dealers of cards?

          Good thing I have no interest at all in gambling or casinos.

      2. Mostly because these have become the $5 tables. If you want the ability to only bet $5, its video blackjack for you. If you want a real dealer, be prepared for at least $10 or $15 minimums.

    3. I object to being called a scofflaw. I don’t scoff at them, I hate laws and want to repeal most of them. If I am a scofflaw then Hitler was a scoffjew.

  12. From link about the actual study. “it (the study) credits red light cameras with accident reductions that take place at intersections without any cameras.”

    Let me see, it wouldn’t be in the interest of insurance companies to fund the IIHS to perform “studies” that would lead local jurisdictions to install red light cameras would it?

    1. Critics of the auto insurance industry would argue with the findings regardless of how they came out. With these findings, critics say “insurers like this because they don’t have to pay out has often”. If it had been found accidents went up, critics would say “See insurers will be able to raise their rates”.

      If accident frequencies and severities go down, your auto rates will reflect this. Remember, personal lines insurance is heavily regulated and only so much profit is allowed.

  13. The IIHS probably loves red light cameras because even though there’s an increase in accidents, the payouts their member insurance companies make are a lot lower (you can do a lot of $3000 bumper repairs for the cost of one $250,000 injury liability claim).

  14. The WaPo hates motorists and pedestrians. 33,000 people die every year on the highways. Yet the WaPo wussies refuse to advocate re-instatement of old laws (probably repealed by a combination of racist tea baggers and oil men such as the Koch Brothers) that required motor vehicles to travel no faster than walking speed proceeded by a flagman.

  15. there’s no greater reason to impugn officials’ motives in deploying the cameras than any in other areas of public safety administration.

    I agree with this, but not in the way the WaPo undoubtedly wants.

  16. Page 17 says you don’t have to pay a redlight camera ticket unless you’re hand-served by an LEO:

    Because the mere mailing of a ticket without personal service by a law enforcement officer does not constitute sufficient notice under the statute’s own terms [yadda yadda yadda] if the person fails to respond, he or she is not considered to have been satisfactorily served with notice

  17. CNBC’s resident automotive reporter PR transcriptionist had something about this on the website. It boiled down to, “See? Toldjaso, toldjaso! Now tell all the poor widows and orphans how sorry you are that you want their loved ones dead!”

    If the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says it, it must be true. What a fucking moron.

  18. All of you red-state drivers out there need to slow down and get tickets!

    Now, where did I put my heavily-subsidized washington metro pass….

  19. One positive associated with the WaPo editorial is that it only appears to have been shared via Facebook and Twitter about 44 times.

  20. Those findings will be discomfiting to the scofflaws and libertarians who have long believed they have a God-given right to run red lights without the nuisance of risking a fine.

    Dude, that is so totally spot-on. I actually slow down when approaching green lights, because it’s so much more satisfying to wait until they turn red to drive through the intersection.

    1. So YOU’RE the asshole that caused me to spill the coffee on my lap while I was texting and driving. Inconsiderate jerk-off.

  21. I don’t think the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is being dishonest.

    Incompetent, honestly mistaken, buffaloed about the difficulties in applying statistical math to the real world? Any of these may be correct.

    I’m even willing to admit the possibility that red light cameras reduce intersection accidents and save lives. I find it unlikely, but if further peer reviewed studies strongly indicates it is so, I’ll graciously concede the point.

    1. Putting a cop in every household would drastically reduce crime.

      1. It would also drastically reduce the dog population.

    2. I’m even willing to admit the possibility that red light cameras reduce intersection accidents and save lives. I find it unlikely, but if further peer reviewed studies strongly indicates it is so, I’ll graciously concede the point.

      I’m not convinced they took enough data points.

      Anecdotal example:

      Intersection at the bottom of my street. Bad light timing and no protected left caused horrendous backups in the afternoon. As a result, many people would “push the red” so they wouldn’t have to sit at the light for a fourth or fifth cycle, especially when Grandma Moses was invariably asleep when the light finally turned green for its 7 second run.

      Insert red light cameras. In the following year, I personally witnessed several major accidents, several injury accidents, multiple near-misses with pedestrians, plus one rollover accident. I had lived at that same location for 6 years prior.

      Everyone seemed to agree that post red-light cameras, the intersection was markedly more dangerous. A year after introducing the red light cameras, they finally created an arrow light for protected left, and changed the timing.

      Now the intersection is smooth as silk and suffers no backups in the afternoon. Will it show that the red light cameras reduced accidents, or the protected left?

  22. a) “profiting” from the resulting fines
    –Why is profiting in quotation marks?

    b) Police can’t be everywhere

  23. Hey! Where’s Tulpa? Shouldn’t he be here telling us how great teh cameras are?

    1. I’m busy crafting an argument supporting how police cameras in every living room would reduce crime.

  24. Creepy, costly and intrusive surveillance saves ~30 lives a year nationwide, GREAT SUCCESS!

  25. I like the idea of the lights going yellow-green-yellow-red. The extra yellow reminds drivers to be cautious. Alternately, making at least a slightly lengthened pause between the first light going to red and the second light changing to green.

  26. “Somehow, that doesn’t seem as appealing a policy to city governments. ”

    Of course not.

    They can’t make any money off of that.

  27. I will believe that they saved 159 lives when the 159 people saved can be named. Otherwise I don’t believe that any statistical analysis can give a number that precise. There really are no other variables that could possibly be at play here that they did not account for?

    And what if one of those saved people is the next Hitler?

  28. While it may be true that lengthening the time of yellow lights lowers accidents, that is only because people are ACCUSTOMED to a shorter span, and think the light is going to turn red any second. Once people learn that yellow lights are just longer now, that benefit will go away.

    1. I had the same thought. I think what you would really need is a longer delay from the light turning red and the oncoming traffic turning green. Focusing on the yellow misses the point.

      Where I live (i.e., America) yellow means “hurry up so we can make the damn light.” With a longer yellow, 6 people would do that instead of 3.

    2. The site (linked to in the original article) also has a page titled “Yellow Light Timing Myths” that gives full citations for four studies showing that people do NOT adjust to the longer yellow. (Go to, append /red-light-cameras/timing-myths).

    3. and yet, studies at every city that tried it prove you wrong.

      facts are more important than our own personal beliefs or biases.

      1. There are very sound engineering equations for determining the safest duration of yellow. These account for reaction time and are based upon the average traffic speed on the road, the number of lanes, grade, road suitability for heavy vehicles, etc.
        To use a duration that is shorter than what good engineering would indicate is asking for collisions and fatalities.

  29. Red light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest US cities

    159 lives/5 years = 31.8 lives/14 cities = 2.3 lives per city per year. It would be interesting to show how much the cameras cost, per life saved.

    1. If a camera on every corner saves one life!

    2. What do we mean by cost? These cameras are revenue-producing for both the companies that install and operate them and for the jurisdictions that host them. The cost is borne by the people who pay fines after triggering a camera.
      There are also both positive and negative externalities in terms of traffic displacement to other roads, less congestion at intersections where yellow is shortened, larger number of generally lower-damage rear-end collisions, etc.

  30. I thought it was a libertarians view that we should get rid of the traffic lights all-together and let the ‘free-market’ solve the problem. Why should government tell anyone what to do. Besides, people should take the personal responsibility of not getting into accidents.

  31. The approach many dishonest municipalities do is to shorten the YELLOW and extend the RED. No more accidents, but more RED light runners. This increases revenue without preventing accidents.

  32. So, they only looked at red-light running accidents involving fatalities, and they defined these as the “subset of these crashes that
    involved a driver traveling straight who was assigned the driver level contributing factor of “failure to
    obey traffic control devices.””
    In other words, if you intentionally exclude collisions where the light had not yet turned red but cars were already slowing or stopped because of the yellow, you can leave out enough fatalities that it looks like red-light cameras are successful.

  33. Here in Los Angeles, the intersections labeled “most dangerous” year after year, DON’T have red light cameras on them. Tell me again about how they cut down on accidents! Let you car ‘creep ” inches at one of the places and look at a fine of $500., even if you didn’t bust the light.

  34. The real revenue from red light cameras comes from sticking motorists with $500 fines for “rolling” through an otherwise legal right turn. In LA, they get 75-80% of their tickets from this, and they know that rolling right turns on red are commonplace and virtually meaningless as far as safety.

  35. how foolish are you? it’s not about saving lives, it’s about controlling people.

    if it were about saving lives, we’d be increasing yellow light times, introducing 2-second all-way reds between each change, and if we do install new infrastructure, buying bigger diameter lights. But we don’t do that, despite every study showing that they work, and that they cost less than cameras.

    there’s no point in making things safer for the average driver. it’s not about that, it never was.

    1. i meant “how foolish are you” rather tongue in cheek, in case that was not clear 🙂

  36. I don’t mind the Red Light Cameras, it’s the outlandish fees charged when caught breaking the law. I had a dinner where my granddaughter’s friends were talking about college. She made the statement she had to drop out one semester because of the $490 ticket she got for making a right turn on a red light. On the other side of the table a young man said the same thing happened to him!

  37. Delaware’s yellow times are usually set for a longer period than the fed standards, and they use an all-red sequence as well. Folks still screw up. One issue with setting long yellows is that drivers eventualy will decide that it’s just a green of a different hue, which is not a behavior traffic engineers want to encourage.

  38. The flaw in this whole camera scenario is that the act of running a red light is a moving violation, which is a infraction committed by an individual operator and goes against his right to operate any vehicle, i.e. his own driver’s license. But these cameras are recording license plates and sending tickets to vehicle owners, who may or may not have been the operator at the time, and those owners have no overriding obligation to insure the legal operation of the vehicle, as long as it is registered legally. You can’t issue a moving violation to a vehicle; it has to be to an operator. Is Mr Hertz or Mr Avis responsible for every moving violation that their rental cars incur? Obviously the answer is no, and by trying to do so the authorities are attempting to make vehicle owners responsible for enforcement of moving violations. Can’t be done unless they decide to pass another law (God help us!)that says only the registrant can operate that vehicle.

  39. Ticket cameras are a cynical means to make money with improper and/or unethical traffic management policies. Engineering solutions provide more safety than camera programs, but – unfortunately – true safety is not profitable. Hence we get more dangerous camera programs. Regards, James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

  40. Of course no municipality should shorten the yellow. Also, I’ve no reason to doubt that lengthening the yellow might get positive results, but neither do I doubt that red light cameras save lives. Why not do both? Why not lengthen the yellow and put in cameras? Lately there has been a lot of debate about whether ordinary citizens may record the police going about their business. I certainly think they may do so. Any citizen can take pictures in any public place, including traffic intersections. But we don’t want those entrusted with enforcing traffic laws to do the same thing? What sense does that make? Might as well take away cops’ radios and radar guns.

  41. Aside from $$$, here’s 2 reasons politicians OK the cameras:

    1. They think we like the cameras!
    There’s Astroturf Lobbying by the camera Industry. (Google Rynski and Astroturf.) In addition to churning out “studies” favoring the cameras, their PR firms have employees whose job it is to manufacture a fake grassroots movement via comments they post on news articles like this one. The politicians read the web, assume the pro-cam comments represent genuine public support, so they vote to install cameras.

    2. Politicians – and their extended family – are immune to the tickets.
    It was revealed that in California 5% of all privately-owned cars (one car in twenty) have plates protected from easy look up, effectively invisible to agencies trying to process camera violations. The “protected” list includes politicians, bureaucrats, their families, and ADULT children! Unbelievable? Read Cal Veh Code 1808.4. If you think this is unfair and don’t want it to be that way in your state, call your state legislators and insist upon legislation to remove loopholes for govt. employees, so that they get their tickets just like the rest of us.

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