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Red-Light Cameras

jrockway (229604) writes | more than 11 years ago

User Journal 1

Well, I've just heard of a plan that should be a good use of taxpayer money. Local governments want to install cameras on stoplights that take a picture of people who are stuck in the middle of the intersection (in hopes of turning left), so that the "offending" party may be ticketed. Rather than funding schools, our wonderful government wants to buy cameras to ticket non-criminals.

Well, I've just heard of a plan that should be a good use of taxpayer money. Local governments want to install cameras on stoplights that take a picture of people who are stuck in the middle of the intersection (in hopes of turning left), so that the "offending" party may be ticketed. Rather than funding schools, our wonderful government wants to buy cameras to ticket non-criminals.

Now, to be fair, it is illegal for people to go out into the middle of the intersection. But it's really a non-problem. The light turns red; the people going the other way wait for the 'offender' to get out of the way. Things work themselves out.

This annoys me for two reasons:

1) Throwing money at a non-problem.
    As I said, when a situation arises that the "traffic control device" did not anticipate [someone inside the intersection when the light changes], the drivers around it will work it out. It may not be the most efficent thing in the world, but certainly 3 seconds isn't going to make a difference in anyone's commute/day.

2) The government preying on it's own citizens.
    I don't like it when the governemnt uses my money to get my money. If they need money to build something, they can ask for it rather than just take it when they see I'm doing something slightly illegal. And when was I asked whether I thought the red-light-left-turn-thing was illegal or not? Never. It was some law passed for no apparent reason (other than to be a source of income).

So if you get a ticket in the mail for this program, claim it got lost. What ticket?

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Obviously... (1)

singularity (2031) | more than 11 years ago | (#6599632)

You have obviously never been in true gridlock traffic in downtown metropolitan areas (Chicago, NYC, Boston, etc.). The problem arises from when cars enter an intersection and the light at the next block turns red. The car in the intersection will be sitting there until the light at the next block turns green again. This can be on the time scale of several minutes. Indeed, it can be long enough that traffic flowing perpendicular to the now-stuck car can have their entire green light cycle through.

One or two cars sitting in the intersection for an entire light cycle can prevent dozens of cars from getting through the intersection, which compounds the problem since it backs up traffic into other intersections.

This does not, however, mean that I am all for traffic control cameras.

Think about this one - in some countries in Europe, they use speed cameras (the ones attached to radar guns that take pictures of speeders to be sent tickets). We have them in the U.S., as well. In the U.S., the are in unmarked vans that are moved around at random. In Europe, they are permanent, and drivers *are warned* of the cameras by official signs.

Why? Because the police in Europe put the cameras in trouble areas, where speed is a problem. Blind curves that people take too fast, and so on. The goal of the camera in Europe? To slow people down in dangerous areas.

The goal of the cameras in the U.S.? Revenue for police departments.
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