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Mississippi Passes Law To Ban Traffic Light Cameras

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the guess-i-know-where-i'll-go-to-run-red-lights dept.

Privacy 629

DaGoatSpanka writes with news that Mississippi Governer Haley Barbour signed a bill into law on Friday which instituted a ban on automated cameras that would snap pictures of motorists when they ran red lights. "The new law says the two cities that already have the cameras, Jackson and Columbus, must take them down by Oct. 1. Other cities and counties are banned from starting to use them." We've discussed situations in the past where cities looked at such cameras as "profit centers," and even tampered with their traffic light timing to catch more motorists. Now, in Mississippi, the contractors who installed the cameras are unhappy, since they received a cut of the ticket revenue generated by the cameras. However, lawmakers overwhelming voted to get rid of them (117-3 in the House, 42-9 in the Senate), because "the cameras were an invasion of privacy and their constituents thought they had been unfairly ticketed."

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Wow... (5, Funny)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311743)

An elected government responding to the wishes of the electorate?


Inconceivable!!

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27311775)

A slashdot poster with a snarky comment?

Inconceivable!!

Re:Wow... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27311813)

A slashdot troll with a racist comment?

Un-niggerbabble!

Re:Wow... (1, Insightful)

DZign (200479) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311791)

> the cameras were an invasion of privacy and their constituents thought they had been unfairly ticketed

1/ don't speed and there's no picture taken so no invasion of your privacy
2/ unfairly ticketed ? if there's a picture as proof I'd say it's fair you get a ticket..

Re:Wow... (4, Interesting)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311837)

You enter the intersection under a green or yellow. Traffic stops ahead of you. Yer stuck in the middle of the intersection. Photo taken of you in intersection. No indication of velocity. Fair cop? Reasonable doubt?

Re:Wow... (5, Insightful)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311905)

If the far side of the intersection is not clear, you're not supposed to enter. So yes, it's sort of fair.

Re:Wow... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312145)

You assume you can see and or know that traffic ahead won't clear enough for you to clear the intersection. Yes, sometimes you can tell... sometimes you can't though, and you end up stuck.

Re:Wow... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312217)

If you can't see and/or know, you don't enter. It really is as simple as that.

Re:Wow... (4, Informative)

Joey Vegetables (686525) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311909)

In cities like NYC this is considered a serious offense because you are creating gridlock. But no matter where you are it is a good idea (and, in some places, a legal requirement) that you enter an intersection only if/when there is sufficient room to leave it again.

Re:Wow... (1)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312183)

Especially where them big ol' chuck-a-chuck-a-whoo-whoos go a-rollin' by.

Good god. Are we reduced to this? Debating whether inattentive driving is acceptable or not?

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311919)

You enter the intersection under a green or yellow. Traffic stops ahead of you. Yer stuck in the middle of the intersection. Photo taken of you in intersection. No indication of velocity. Fair cop? Reasonable doubt?

That's why red-light cameras set up by anyone who's not a totally incompetent moron take two or more consecutive pictures. Duh.

Re:Wow... (1)

SuperAndy (1414157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311921)

It is still against the rules of the road to enter an intersection if you aren't positive that you can't get out again

Re:Wow... (1)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312241)

Get real. Exactly how is to be determined whether a guy wasn't positive that he couldn't get out again? Mind-reading?

Re:Wow... (2, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311925)

Huh... well that's not how 'our' traffic light cameras work. They basically trigger on the conditions that..
1. the light -is- red
and
2. somebody is actually crossing something like 2 meters past the hold line -while- that light is red.

You could still argue the case that you crossed it because an 18 wheeler was coming up behind you and didn't seem to be slowing down at all, or that you were getting out of the way of an ambulance.. the latter would have records, the former not so much. But it's not quite as bad as the case you present where you actually crossed during a green and got snapped while stuck on the intersection.

Though if you're stuck on an intersection, perhaps that photo is the least of your problems... what, with traffic about to come at you from one of the other directions and all.

Re:Wow... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311929)

I don't know about US road law but if you're stuck in the middle of an intersection I'd guess you're infringing anyway. You certainly shouldn't cross an intersection unless you can make it all the way across before the lights change.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27311935)

Well here in France you must not enter an intersection if the in tersection is too crowded to be left.

Re:Wow... (1)

DZign (200479) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312003)

ok in that situation it's unfair.

how most red light cameras in europe work is they have sensors just behind the white line where you're supposed to stop..
if it's red and a car passes the pictures get taken
(and only if the car passes fast enough - I've heard that if you drive very slow it doesn't goes off but haven't tried it myself :)
once the car is on the intersection it doesn't matter anymore if it'll stop or not

and 2 pictures are taken and speed is also measured and recorded (most intersection cameras also can take your picture if you speed through a green light btw)

and like someone else said - traffic cameras should be bought, sharing profits is a bad idea

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312165)

In our town, the camera takes a picture of you BEHIND the line at the red light and quickly takes another one of you PAST the line at the red light. QED.

If you enter on yellow or green, you don't get nailed.

Also, while creating gridlock is a ticket-able offense (personally I think you should get the rack), it's also conducive to alleviating rush hour traffic when turning LEFT to enter the intersection on green even if you can't completely go through because of oncoming traffic; when they stop because of a red light, you have plenty of time to continue before the cross street gets green...

One extra car through the light each cycle means that much less traffic to back up. Where I live some lights only allow five or six cars to get through on the green turn signal. That means if you don't make the turn, then after five cycles you've got a whole extra cycle of backup. If the cycle is three minutes, you get two extra cycles of backup every half hour until rush hour ends.

Of course, you need to know that you'll be able to complete the left turn... if the left turn is backed up, you simply shouldn't enter.

Some places encourage and teach this (some places don't).

Re:Wow... (1)

theIsovist (1348209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312083)

I'm not sure about most places, but the one camera that nailed me managed to take two high res photos of my car. One before I crossed into the intersection with the red light, and one after I was in the intersection with the red light. I would imagine this is standard practice.

Re:Wow... (1)

melissa replies (1507707) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312105)

You're right. There wouldn't be any indication of velocity to represent the circumstances of traffic violations per case.

I would be under the impression that they would take a series of photos of the intersection during the red light to more accurately assess a traffic violation. Of course the de facto of jurisprudence never quite accounts for everything in such a way.

Re:Wow... (1)

giverson (532542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312167)

In most (all?) states the camera has to show that the light was red before you entered the intersection. Two pictures are taken - one of you outside the intersection with a red light and one of you in the intersection with the red light.

Oh, and the citations in Maryland include your speed. Can't speak for any other states.

Re:Wow... (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311841)

2/ unfairly ticketed ? if there's a picture as proof I'd say it's fair you get a ticket..

The unfair ticketing comes in when cities start tweaking the yellow light timing to generate more revenue. I think it would be more productive to outlaw this practice than to outlaw red light cameras. I would personally also outlaw the practice of sharing the revenue with the vendor -- buy it outright like any other system. Traffic laws shouldn't be written/enforced with an eye towards making money -- they should be enforced with an eye towards deterring behavior that places everybody at risk.

Personally I'd use the revenue to fund traffic safety courses and make everybody who violates the traffic law sit in them. I think the prospect of spending eight hours of your time being lectured would be a bigger deterrent than a sub $100 fine.

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful)

Nos. (179609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311959)

That's definitely the best idea I've heard. Regulate the timings on traffic lights, specifically the minimum time a light stays yellow based on the maximum speed of the road.

Re:Wow... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311995)

That's definitely the best idea I've heard. Regulate the timings on traffic lights, specifically the minimum time a light stays yellow based on the maximum speed of the road.

It's not going to happen. Just because those backwoods Europeans have been doing just the same for decades, and everyone knows that they can't get anything right.

Re:Wow... (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312243)

Why not? The guys in Washington now seem to like how the Europeans do everything else.

Re:Wow... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312199)

Federal law already does that. It also dictates how speed limits must be set, and how often they must be re-evaluated. Then VT has a law that says if the speed limit hasn't been challenged within three years, you can't challege it... even if the Federal re-evaluation period has elasped or a study has NEVER been done.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312275)

It's funny how things happen in the USA. Taxation is unpopular, but people still expect paved roads and fire service, so governments have to get "creative" to raise funds.

IMHO we need to do one of two things: accept higher taxes for the services we use or pay for more services (like roads, fire, police, etc) out of pocket instead of expecting the government to provide it for us.

Re:Wow... (5, Informative)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312031)

This is more about running reds, I believe, than speeding.

And on that note, I drive a motorcycle, and quite often a motorcycle does not generate enough of an EM field to be noticed by the sensors. Pull up to an intersection that is slow in your direction and you can wait all day if you like and never get a green. The common solution here is to simply wait for traffic to slow, and then run the red when there's a break. This particular problem happens even more often when waiting for left-turn arrows.

Do you suggest I should just wait half an hour for a car to coincidentally be going my way, or just accept my ticket for running the red light, simply because a camera saw me do it? I would say that would be a pretty fair ticket. The "picture as proof" fails to consider context. The above is simply one example where context makes a world of difference. There are other situations as well.

Furthermore, I should not have to spend a day in court because an automated system is incapable of properly considering the entire situation, so don't tell me "well then you can just get it thrown out of court." That still costs me time (and therefore money.)

Additionally, on the topic of context and your (2): suppose someone took a picture of me shooting someone in the chest with a gun. Wow! You've got proof I committed murder! Maybe I should go to jail? Nevermind the fact that a similar picture from just a few seconds before would depict the other person coming at me with a knife, intent on killing me for the few dollars in my wallet. We don't have that picture, so clearly it is irrelevant.

Wtf? A picture of a moment in time is not the entire story; don't treat it as if it is.

Re:Wow... (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312059)

I would say that would be a pretty fair ticket.

Of course, I meant to say unfair. Whoops.

Re:Wow... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312057)

As others have said:
1) Municipalities started tweaking yellow light timers WAY down to increase red light camera revenue. This wound up reducing T-bone accidents (intended) but significantly increased rearend accidents (not intended) due to people slamming on their brakes to make sure they not only didn't catch the red due to a short yellow, but to make sure they weren't unfairly ticketed because their vehicle was stationary 6 inches over the line.
2) Yes, an additional problem was that the cameras would snap pictures of those who were stopped 6 inches over the line at an intersection. Not by any means "running a red light" but according to the cameras they were doing so.

Re:Wow... (2, Interesting)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312097)

1/ don't speed and there's no picture taken so no invasion of your privacy

These cameras have nothing to do with speeding. They are red light cameras, taking pictures when the yellow light time was shorted below state and or federal times.

2/ unfairly ticketed ? if there's a picture as proof I'd say it's fair you get a ticket..

Right, because no city would ever illegally shorten yellow light time to raise funds. Even though it's been, you know, documented that they have.

Finally, I'd like to add this; if an overwhelming majority of people don't want red light cameras, I'd argue that the government doesn't have a right to use public money to install and operate them, regardless of any supposed benefits. In this case though, the cameras create more problems then they solve, which is why they shouldn't have been installed in the first place.

Lenghtening yellow light times has been proven to decrease ALL accident types, where-as red light cameras trade t-bone type accidents for rear-end collisions.

Re:Wow... (4, Informative)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312193)

unfairly ticketed ? if there's a picture as proof I'd say it's fair you get a ticket..

Read the summary. The camera's were rigged to give out bogus tickets. A common trick was to set the yellow-light time so short that it is physically impossible to safely stop in time.

Assuming a driver slams the breaks and the car decelerates at 3/4 G, it takes a car traveling at 35MPH a full 4.2 seconds to stop and that doesn't even count driver reaction time. There have been many cases where cities would set their yellow-light times as low as 3 seconds. (IIRC the legal minimum is 5 seconds.)

Any way you cut it, traffic cameras were being used by cities to abuse their citizens. Some sort of reform was needed. (Though perhaps regulation would have been better than completely banning them.)

Re:Wow... (3, Interesting)

operagost (62405) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312203)

When red light cameras are installed, invariably the yellow light duration is reduced to ensure that more people are caught in the intersection. Eventually, this causes more accidents as people start slamming on the brakes when they see a yellow and get rear-ended.

Re:Wow... (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312223)

I agree for the most part, but with cities starting to regard the cameras as profit centers, there have been some really sketchy things going on with light timers and other traffic control parameters.

Perhaps the law should have been regulations to prevent the abuse of the cameras, especially provisions to ensure that yellow light timing is not decreased to unsafe intervals in order to generate revenue.

Re:Wow... (2, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312245)

You are approaching an intersection with a green light.
The light flickers yellow for a half second and turns red.

A half second is less than normal human reaction time.

---

You are on a section of road going 40mph with a 40mph speed limit.
As you round a bend, the speed limit drops to 30mph, you are ticketed.

---

You are on a section of road with a 30mph speed limit. Like everyone else, you are driving 35mph. All of you are surveilled.

---

As a lot of politicians, preachers, and others discovered, privacy is the grease that makes life works. It gives us room to hide our private foibles and live otherwise normal lives. No one can live up to the standards of society all the time but our punishments are based on the concept that unless you were ridiculous about them, you would rarely be caught. With cameras everywhere, the standards for being caught go way down while the punishments remain tuned to the old standards of being caught. Without any change in the law, society becomes more oppressive.

---

The home inspectors in my city used to work about 6 hours a day and hang out about 2 hours a day, sometimes drop by home to do errands-- for decades. They made a certain salary for the job. They were expected to inspect a certain number of houses a week.

Then some nimrod put GPS sensors in their cars and started busting them for these behaviors and expecting 8 hours a day work without changing the salary. Effectively cutting the pay for the job by 25% to 33%. Very oppressive- and it will result over time in either higher turnover or higher salaries.

Re:Wow... (2, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311941)

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Wow... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312009)

Because it doesn't matter.

Republican Governor and note that the story doesn't indicate it!

This is part of the vast slashconspiracy against republicans doing good stuff.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312079)

You'd be surprised.

I lived in Mississippi when those cameras went up. I remember clearly watching them install some on Lakeland Dr. in Jackson. I even watched a few morons run the lights, cause gridlock in the afternoon rush hour, and saw the flash bulbs go.

Frankly, I was pissed off they were installed, but I have to admit, once people realized what they were, they quit doing stupid shit and grid-locking traffic in the afternoon rush.

I do not agree with the police state, and if they really want to up their revenue, maybe they should hire some more cops and have them just sit around writing traffic tickets. I'm sure they'll have plenty of willing employees that will accept a bare-bones wage in this market. Shouldn't be hard to at least cover the costs of employment.

Give me a break (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27311751)

and the thousands of lives they save will be lost due to under educated government leaders in a bigot southern state. I say we boycot the state of mississippi! In Virginia they have had them for years and have generated revenue AND saved peoples lives by keeping chronic red light runners off the streets. Now, living in florida where there aren't that many

Re:Give me a break (1)

j-beda (85386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311821)

Those are some valid points - I would have thought a more balanced approach would be to legislate some sort of standards to which such devices must comply and maybe public scrutiny of the device and software. Preventing red-light-running seems like a laudable goal if it can be done fairly.

There are some reports of places with red-light-cameras having an increase in minor rear-end collisions due to people being more conservative with their entry into yellow lights, so that too needs to be balanced.

Re:Give me a break (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312119)

Almost every study done has shown that red-light cameras increase rear-end accidents at intersections. (And every time somebody brings this up, people start complaining about who's fault it is. It doesn't matter who's fault it is.)

These things don't save lives, they make self-important people who think they're better drivers than everybody else on the road feel good. We should expect personal responsibility. We should make it more difficult to obtain a license. However, "trust, but verify" is just a diplomatic way of saying "we don't trust you at all". It should be reserved for our enemies, not for our citizens.

Besides, people who run a red light because they aren't paying attention are going to run the red whether there's a camera there or not.

Re:Give me a break (1)

clam666 (1178429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312229)

and the thousands of lives they save will be lost due to under educated government leaders in a bigot southern state

I, for one, always embrace the illusion of security over the loss of freedoms.

I'm not sure where governments being concerned about the freedoms of the citizens makes them either uneducated or bigots, but then their job is to (in theory) represent the people who vote for them. If the people overwhelmingly don't want cameras, then they should probably not be using cameras.

The problem with statists and other government force types, is that they don't really care what the people want, or even tacitly agree to. Instead it's about power and control. Apparently this particular government didn't want that or received too much flak to continue doing it.

I live in the largest city by land area in the contiguous United States with miles and miles of roads, and we don't have thousands of red light deaths. Perhaps those numbers were from another city.

Pretty good reaction to a pay wall (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27311753)

For once resistance to a pay wall pays off

Democracy works?!? Huh? (5, Funny)

Kostya (1146) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311773)

However, lawmakers overwhelming voted to get rid of them (117-3 in the House, 42-9 in the Senate), because "the cameras were an invasion of privacy and their constituents thought they had been unfairly ticketed."

So despite the company and local municipalities profiting from this, constituents actually made their voices heard and their representatives acted accordingly?

I am deeply confused. This is not the democracy I am used to. I'm going to have to find something else to be cynical about today.

Re:Democracy works?!? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27311865)

The contractors probably just forgot the required kickbacks to the legislators. Since the lawmakers didn't get their cut of the profits they decided that looking good in the publics eye was a good alternative.

Re:Democracy works?!? Huh? (5, Insightful)

weav (158099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311967)

I suspect the real reason is that legislators were photographed with their mistresses in their cars, and the pictures sent home to their wives. They would shut that s$#t down real quick...

Re:Democracy works?!? Huh? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312283)

Wasn't that an episode of Monk?

Re:Democracy works?!? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312221)

Of the states I've lived in for two or more years (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missippis, Indiana) Mississippi was by far the most progressive, responsive, open, and accessible at the state and local levels of government.

Those states being governed by 'reconstruction' reform laws are still very much rooted in the Jeffersonian principals they rebelled under. More often than not, they try to actually represent their constituents.

The longer I live in "the North" the more I'm convinced that "the South" had it right when it comes to governments distribution of power.

Holy cow... (3, Funny)

Jonah Bomber (535788) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311779)

Mississippi a leader in something. Amazing. Way to go!

Re:Holy cow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27311879)

It's strange that a state that has consistently opposed individual privacy rights would do this. Is privacy making a comeback in the south?

Re:Holy cow... (2, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311911)

Mississippi a leader in something. Amazing.

That's rather crude to assume they never were the leaders of something. The Mississippi Legislature removed fractions and decimal points [snopes.com] from the curriculum in their public schools. Clearly they're a leader in the degradation of the American educational system..

Re:Holy cow... (3, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312151)

Indeed. I thought the bigger story here is: Mississippi has traffic lights.

now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311789)

.... we don't have them around here and people run lights all the time. And I don't mean they squeak in under a yellow that turns red when they are in the middle of the intersection -- the light is red for a full second or two before they even hit the stop line.

I hate the concept of red light cameras but I'm hating the concept of being t-boned even more. If we can't have red light cameras can we at least have some fucking human enforcement of the traffic laws? There's a difference between hitting the gas to beat a yellow light and just plain ignoring the red because your selfish attitude thinks waiting 30 seconds is a worse outcome than placing other drivers at risk.

I agree; also, why invoke privacy? (4, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311901)

I know what you mean. I commented on this the other day. [slashdot.org]

I know this goes against the general /. attitude, but I used to be against red light cameras on principle. That was before I moved to my current city and saw how people behaved. I don't think they're appropriate everywhere, but I do think that my city could certainly use them. It just depends on the location and people's behavior.

Also, I have a hard time understanding how privacy comes into play. When you are driving, you are doing it in a public place; why should there be any expectation of privacy?

Re:I agree; also, why invoke privacy? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311953)

Also, I have a hard time understanding how privacy comes into play. When you are driving, you are doing it in a public place; why should there be any expectation of privacy?

What I don't understand is why a red-light camera that only fires when you run the red-light is an invasion of your privacy but a police officer pulling you over for the exact same thing isn't.

Either way, people are asshats. They'd rather run the light and place the other drivers at risk than wait 30 fucking seconds to get to where they are going. I don't like seeing traffic tickets used as a revenue source -- I think they should be set at the smallest amount possible to fund aggressive traffic safety classes. Make everybody who violates the traffic law twice sit in one of those classes or lose their license. Most people value 8 hours of their time more than they value a lousy $100. Let that and the subsequent increase in your insurance premiums serve as the deterrent.

Not the same thing (1)

PuckstopperGA (1204112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312171)

The argument is that a cop pulling you over is a lot different than a camera snapping a picture. The slippery slope argument applies here. If we have cameras at traffic lights looking for crime, why not put cameras on all streets. Take it one step further, and why not put cameras in people's homes? If they're not breaking the law, they have nothing to fear, right? I think it's a good idea that a cop should have to witness a traffic violation to cite the driver. Automation in police enforcement is a very scary idea for those of us concerned with the decay of our rights to privacy.

Re:Not the same thing (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312211)

Automation in police enforcement is a very scary idea for those of us concerned with the decay of our rights to privacy.

Hey, your preaching to the choir here. I consider myself at least a libertarian and occasionally a Libertarian. Despite that, I don't relish the thought of being t-boned by some asshat that thinks 30 seconds of his time are more valuable than my life and property. So what's the solution? Hire more cops at $40,000/yr to do nothing but enforce red-light laws? Transfer cops away from fighting violent crime to enforce red-light laws?

Re:I agree; also, why invoke privacy? (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312255)

Either way, people are asshats. They'd rather run the light and place the other drivers at risk than wait 30 fucking seconds to get to where they are going. I don't like seeing traffic tickets used as a revenue source -- I think they should be set at the smallest amount possible to fund aggressive traffic safety classes.

I think a lot of opponents of red light cameras don't believe that there can be a culture of disrespect and douchebaggery, if you will. In the thread I linked to above, another poster suggested that the reason I see so many people run red lights in my city must be because of a technical problem with light timing, etc. From my experience, that's just not the case. People run red lights on residential streets where there are no timing or traffic flow problems.

Your idea of forcing people to take classes is good. Some people have a problem with red light fines because they slap people with a standard fine, and if you're wealthy it's no big deal. In my city, though, there are a lot of poor people to whom a $100 fine is a big deal. I seem to remember hearing about a Scandinavian country that had set traffic fines as a percentage of your income, but I don't think that would fly here in the states. On the other hand, making people give up a Saturday has the potential to be much fairer across the board.

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (2, Insightful)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311939)

Yes, I'm kind of astonished by this. Over here in the UK, there are plenty of complaints about speed cameras being used as revenue generators, by being put in places where there isn't a safety issue. But I don't think I've ever once heard anyone complaining about a red light camera. There is no effing excuse for running a red light, and no safe way of doing it. If you live in the middle of nowhere and feel the traffic levels are low enough that a red light can be ignored, then you should campaign for those lights to be removed, not ignore them.

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312019)

If you live in the middle of nowhere and feel the traffic levels are low enough that a red light can be ignored, then you should campaign for those lights to be removed, not ignore them.

Here in the States a situation like that would usually have a flashing light. It flashes yellow on one roadway (the busier one) to serve as a warning and flashes red on the other to require people to stop. The flashing red is treated in the same manner as a stop sign -- you stop, look and if it is safe to proceed you do so. Is there an equivalent to that in the UK?

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312225)

Not with lights but most main roads have priority over minor roads which cross over them so on the minor roads there is a give way sign and a line across the road which you need to stop at to check there is no traffic on the main road before you turn onto it or go across a junction. Obviously peoples definitions of "stop" varies quite a lot and some rural roads are quite dangerous when people take no notice of the signs.

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312065)

Red light cameras distort traffic flow. They encourage people to make
SUDDEN manuevers that they wouldn't otherwise. Dunno about where you
are from but where I am from, they think that accidents are caused by
SUDDEN manuevers. IOW, you cause accidents by surprising other drivers.

This can be by violating expectations/law or by suddenly stopping cold to
avoid some stupid redlight camera.

Plus, they have have been tweaking these cameras to increase revenue even
when it was obvious they were creating a safety condition.

Speed cameras don't have that problem. The existence of speed cameras don't
encourage cities to screw around with well established civil engineering
practices just to make a buck.

Getting rid of the cameras is certainly MUCH easier than trying to regulate them.

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312233)

This can be by violating expectations/law or by suddenly stopping cold to avoid some stupid redlight camera.

If the yellow light timing hasn't been tampered with why do you need to 'suddenly stop cold' to avoid the camera? If you treat the yellow light as you are supposed to treat it (i.e: stop if you can safely do so) there is zero excuse for running a red light.

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312281)

If stopping at a red light is a sudden maneuver that's going to cause an accident, you're traveling to f'ing fast for the road already asswipe.

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312207)

But I don't think I've ever once heard anyone complaining about a red light camera.

Yeah, but is your municipality shortening the yellow in order to generate more red light runners, thus increasing revenue? Because, believe it or not, some US cities have been accused of doing just that...

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312247)

There is no effing excuse for running a red light

Sorry, but in the 3rd world country I work in (Detroit), especially after dark, if you don't run the red light, you will be carjacked at least.
Heck, even have a name for it - The Motown Stop.
Hit the brakes just long enough to look both ways, nobody coming, gun it.
Yeah, running red lights is not safe, but around here, the alternative can be far worse.

There *IS* an effing excuse for running a light (2, Interesting)

viridari (1138635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312251)

There is no effing excuse for running a red light

Clearly you're not a motorcyclist that has fallen victim to sensor-driven traffic lights. You can wait all day at a red light for a car to come trip the sensor for you, or you can wait a couple of minutes, wait for a clearing, and run the light.

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312021)

Maybe your state could actually hire some cops to stay at the traffic lights for a few days and take the drivers' license of the people doing that for something like a week, or 15 days.

After a few weeks of this, people will probably learn to wait at the red light.

The benefits of having red light cameras are far lower than the problems they cause (like people stopping suddenly at the light because they don't want to get tickets and causing crashes, the companies lowering the yellow light time to get more tickets and so on).

How's the King of the USA these days? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312253)

He's from the UK, they don't have "States" in the UK. How's the King of the USA these days? ;-)

Like the parent poster says, if people feel that red lights are merely suggestions and not obligatory, you've got a big problem indeed, and people need to be stopped from running them. A very mundane job and suitable for you know, "technology", rather than having a cop sit there all day eating donuts and catching one person every eight hours or so when they could be doing some useful crime fighting not solvable by an automated camera.

And if you think the traffic lights are just not worth having there, like the parent poster says, vote to get rid of the lights.

Either you need the lights - so people should obey them - or you don't need the lights - so get rid of them. Lights that you can obey if you feel like it sometimes, well that's an interesting idea...

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (2, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312023)

I lived in Montgomery AL for 6 years and everyone ran red lights there. Solution? Make the red light less than 20 fucking minutes. People don't mind sitting at a red light for a minute, but the lights were so long in Montgomery it would make your travelling time significantly longer at each red light you got stuck at, and people got sick of it and started running them.

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312087)

can we at least have some fucking human enforcement of the traffic laws?

Heh. Cops enjoy running red lights as much, if not moreso, than we do. My state recently made it illegal to talk on the phone while driving but everybody(including the police) still do it anyway.

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312237)

Sounds like something wrong with the yellow light timing. Perhaps you should petition to increase yellow light time.

http://www.motorists.org/photoenforce/home/regulating-red-light-cameras/ [motorists.org]

Re:now mississippi can be like my hometown..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312279)

Sounds like something wrong with the yellow light timing. Perhaps you should petition to increase yellow light time.

There's nothing wrong with the yellow light timing around here. The ones I've bothered to time in town are all 4 seconds or longer. Are you telling me that a four second yellow in a 30 mph zone isn't sufficient warning to stop? Is it so hard to accept the fact that people are selfish asshats who will run the light if they know they can get away with it?

The real issue was that (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27311839)

the cameras weren't able to racially profile before giving out tickets.

So, instead of ... (3, Informative)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311871)

... laying down sensible rules for using these things (minimum yellow light duration, camera is only armed 1 second after red light comes on, _no sharing revenues with the manufacturer/contractor_, etc), they're banned outright?

I smell a bit of luddism here.

Luddites? (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312133)

... laying down sensible rules for using these things (minimum yellow light duration, camera is only armed 1 second after red light comes on, _no sharing revenues with the manufacturer/contractor_, etc), they're banned outright?

I smell a bit of luddism here.

WTF is it with you people? First, we pretty much decide here that traffic cameras are evil, Big Brother instruments dedicated to profits and intrusive government more than public safety.

But when a state actually listens to its citizens and bans the things... they're luddites?

What the hell does it take to make you people happy?

Haley Barbour, (R) Miss. (1, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311873)

Haley Barbour, former head of the RNC, that is. Again, party affiliation only gets mentioned when it makes Republicans look evil or Democrats look good. Note: I don't like either party. I just find the pattern to be interesting.

Re:Haley Barbour, (R) Miss. (1)

Shining Celebi (853093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312055)

Haley Barbour, former head of the RNC, that is. Again, party affiliation only gets mentioned when it makes Republicans look evil or Democrats look good. Note: I don't like either party. I just find the pattern to be interesting.

Haley Barbour never expressed anything but mild opposition to the bill. It was passed by overwhelming majorities, so even if he had had the will to veto something that apparently a lot of people support (which he has in the past -- we have the highest grocery tax in the nation, and it was proposed that we cut that and raise the cigarette tax. He vetoed that bill on the grounds that he said he wouldn't raise taxes.), it would just be overridden. That said, it was bipartisan. Almost nobody opposed it. So why should party affiliation be mentioned?

Re:Haley Barbour, (R) Miss. (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312091)

Again, party affiliation only gets mentioned when it makes Republicans look evil or Democrats look good.

You got any stats you can cite to support that? Maybe you only notice the party affiliation when it makes Republicans look evil or Democrats look good.

You might not like either party, but you may have biases that lead you to see a pattern where there isn't one, or where it's not as significant as you think it is.

Re:Haley Barbour, (R) Miss. (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312123)

I wish I had mod points. Like you, I care not a bit for either of these parties, but this pattern seems quite clear to me. And the perpetrators seem completely unembarrassed by their naked intellectual dishonesty.

-Peter

Re:Haley Barbour, (R) Miss. (1, Offtopic)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312179)

oh, cry me a fucking river.
yes, when the vote is overwhelming (117-3 / 42-9) bolth Democrats and republicans voted for it.
don't look for spin where it isn't.
They said nice things about your republican gov/ex-chairman.

call me a troll but I hate the "I don't like either party. I'm just sayin'" argument. It's like saying "now I don't mean to offend you but..." right before you say something bad about me.

don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are republicans...

Re:Haley Barbour, (R) Miss. (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312257)

That would've made a lot more sense were I a Republican. I'm not. That's something you just have to say on Slashdot to try to derail partisan knuckleheads from claiming political bias in the direction they oppose, sort of like you're doing.

Not to mention that they might be dangerous (5, Insightful)

eyal0 (912653) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311881)

When you reward a company with money per traffic violation, obviously it will be in their interest for there to be more traffic violations. And the traffic laws are there to protect lives. Basically, governments are rewarding companies for killing people.

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/06/602.asp [thenewspaper.com]

How about giving the companies a bonus relative to the decrease in the number of traffic accidents in an intersection? Now that seems smarter.

Re:Not to mention that they might be dangerous (4, Informative)

The Moof (859402) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312289)

As someone who was behind a "oh shit, yellow SLAM ON THE BREAKS BECAUSE THAT SIGN SAYS THEY'RE WATCHING ME skid to a stop" driver earlier this week, I agree with the parent. I narrowly avoided an accident and the guy in front of me panicked when the light turned yellow with plenty of time for him and me (and if anyone was behind me, them also) to go through. I've also witnessed one accident caused as a direct result of the camera (same type of driver mentioned above). Our cameras have only been up for 6 months, and that was the first accident I've ever seen at that intersection.

Mississippi and privacy? (1, Insightful)

CSHARP123 (904951) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311893)

What is world coming to? Of all the places on earth, Mississippi is becoming the champion of privacy.
Next thing you are going to tell me is Hell is better place than heaven. (But I will keep away from both for right now)

NH considering passing a law to enable cameras (4, Informative)

OhPlz (168413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311937)

This is a timely article. The state of NH is currently considering passing a law allowing cities to put up these cameras. As usual, we're a bit behind the times.

SB 113:

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2009/SB0113.html [state.nh.us]

1 second green, 1 second yellow (5, Interesting)

natoochtoniket (763630) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311961)

I live in Fort Lauderdale. The stoplight at the exit from my neighborhood has been adjusted, just a couple weeks ago. They recently installed cameras on this intersection. The new cycle appears to be: 1 second of green, 1 second of yellow, 28 seconds of red. The main street is getting 27 seconds of green, and 1 second of yellow, and 2 seconds of red. There appears to be no overlap of the red.

The state law says the yellow must be 4 seconds, if I recall correctly. But even if the camera-tickets can be successfully challenged in court, and even if a judge eventually orders the city to change the timing, it is still tying up the traffic. And, there have been more collisions at that intersection in the last two weeks than there were in the previous 20 years.

Re:1 second green, 1 second yellow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312187)

1 second green? WTF?

For most people, that's not even enough time to hit the gas.

Crime against humanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312035)

There should be a federal law banning these cameras nationwide. Further, there should be a UN resolution imposing stiff economic sanctions on any country that uses such cameras. These cameras are a crime against humanity.

Caught red handed... (1, Interesting)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312037)

I remember being sent in the mail a photo of me running a red light from one of these traffic cameras along with a ticket. The front of my car hadn't even entered the intersection before the light was red and you could clearly see my license plate, me, and the red light in the photo. I just laughed and paid the ticket.

I thought the reason was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312045)

I thought the reason we don't want cameras and "automated citations" was because of the fear induced in people, not knowing if they're going to get a ticket in the mail or not. If I get a traffic violation, I want to know right then and there. I want to be pulled over. I don't want to always worry, "Did I do anything wrong??", "Oh no! Was that light still yellow when I went through it? Am I going to get a ticket in the mail??"

It's enough to make a non-paranoid person paranoid!

Its to reflate house prices dummy! (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312047)

With that law passed zillions will go to live in Mississippi causing a house price boom there. Once Gov. Haley Barbour has sold his house he will repeal the law.

send all fines to state general fund (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312075)

I would be OK with red light traffic cameras if local municipalities could pay out of thier own pocket to install and maintain them but ALL collected fines should go to the state's general fund.

So if a city has a dangerous intersection they can pay and install the cameras, but there is no financial benefit to do so. In fact, it in my perfect world installing and operating the cametras would be a financial drain on the local municipality.

Different approach... (4, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312085)

I've seen outrageous examples of red-light runners, and they do occasionally kill people, so I support the idea of the cameras, when done properly. Why don't they just pass a law that says that any government entity that is caught with a red light camera on a light where the yellow is shorter than the standards say it should be, must reimburse triple damages to all recipients of tickets, and further may be sued by those recipients for triple any increase in insurance because of the ticket? That ought make these cities proceed cautiously and correctly ;-)

Profit centre? (2, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312135)

I don't intend to defend this system but they wouldn't be considered as profit centres if people didn't drive like braindead fucktards.

Not worth it (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312137)

Here in my area they were considering installing speeding cameras but the city councils all balked once they discovered that they'd only be getting 5 cents on every dollar of ticket revenue. The rest went to the camera company. If proponents are really only worried about safety, what really works is to park an unmanned police car on the highway.

Arizona has anti-camera bills going too, but... (3, Interesting)

bjdevil66 (583941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312153)

...the bills (primarily HB2106) have been meeting stiff resistance from lobbyists and a strong PR campaign from the Department of Public Service (i.e. Highway Patrol), Redflex (the company that put up our beloved freeway speed cameras) and ATS (American Traffic Solutions), which is based in Scottsdale and is growing. Certain members of the AZ state legislature recently tried to slip in an amendment that would have legalized the unexpected and unauthorized video feeds from the cameras (the 24/7 video feeds that are archived for 90 days) and it would have allowed police to use them in all criminal investigations (that amendment has since been removed).

It doesn't help that our biggest publication is also in the pro-camera lobby's pocket either, which continually publishes pro-camera fluff pieces, and it constantly trumps up a flawed poll that says that Arizonans are in favor of the cameras. (The creator of the poll: ATS. The publication has also replaced the actual questions to the poll - which were totally leading, and now only publishes an obnoxious, Powerpoint-exported, Clipart filled, document full of splashy, bright red, ominous-looking percentages).

I'm holding out hope that the bill can make it through with a GOP-controlled legislature and GOP governor (the cameras were Janet Napolitano's idea - yes, our beloved HD Secretary - you were all duped if you think she was a good choice for that role. We couldn't get her out of this state fast enough.).

No offense, Mississippi, but the fact that they can be that far ahead of my home state on such a simple-minded issue is embarrassing. Come on, Arizona - do the right thing! Don't make camerafraud.com do the heavy lifting for you!

Proud Citizen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27312209)

The ban is welcomed with open arms here. There were/are many issues with this system of civil citation by a camera that has no judgment whatsoever. It wasn't just the fact that the timing of yellow lights were decreased. People were getting ticketed for going through these intersections during funeral processions and pulling through the intersection to let emergency vehicles pass. The intersections were getting congested because people were afraid to make a right on red. Not to mention that it started to effect the businesses around these intersections because people started using alternate routes to avoid the cameras (a.k.a. scameras)

How to do tickets right (3, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312239)

1) No profit-sharing. The city should assume all costs and all responsibilities.
2) Arrest the car. If the car is caught running a red light, boot or impound the car for 24 hours at the city's expense. No fines. No costs to the car owner. Since the citizens of the city want to encourage people not to run red lights, let them absorb the costs of law enforcement.
3) Include several seconds before and after the infraction, and include a wide-angle view so extenuating circumstances are visible.
4) Destroy all videos 24 hours after they are no longer needed.
5) No gaming with the yellow lights. Yellow light timing should be based on safety not pumping up red-light run counts.
6) Right to trial by jury, even if it is just an "administrative" penalty.

OK, #2 is not going to happen, but the rest are necessary for any automated enforcement.

Also, any intersection with a high offense rate should automatically become subject to a traffic engineering study and enhanced live-cop enforcement during times of peak red-light running. The engineering study is to make sure the intersection does not "invite" red-light running, say, by poorly timed lights, poor visibility, excessive congestion, etc., and the cops are there to further deter red-light-running.

I always wondered where Roscoe P Coltrain ended up (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312291)

Now I know - instead of suspending a bogus traffic light from a tree, now he's evolved to tinkering with the clockwork inside the traffic light box.

And removing the cameras will change things . . . how? Oh, yeah - now there'll be a snowball's chance in hell of contesting the officer's sworn testimony before Boss Hogg; with the cameras, there's not even that chance; although I suppose this'll at least require counties in the South to tie up a little officer time to run their speed-traps, instead of automating them. Some gain, I suppose, but the South is still going to be the South.

I wonder if the Duke boys could help me with traffic issues down there in Mississippi? I'd settle for seeing Daisy (the burnette original, not the blond knock-off) while waiting for the Sheriff to reset the traffic light.

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