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Red Light Camera Use Declined In 2013 For the First Time

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the drones-are-the-replacement dept.

Transportation 348

SonicSpike writes "2013 may be a turning point for red-light cameras across the United States. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a non-profit largely funded by auto insurance companies, this year is the first time in nearly two decades that the number of American cities with red-light cameras has fallen — the systems were installed in 509 communities as of November 2013. While a single-year drop may not ultimately mean much, legislators across the country are increasingly agitated about the cameras. Bills are also pending in Florida and Ohio that would ban the devices entirely. A state representative in Iowa has also twice introduced legislation to ban RLCs (he was not successful). Part of this backlash has to do with the (sometimes accurate) perception that RLCs are a moneymaking scheme, pure and simple."

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348 comments

Politics as usual (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714611)

Police think it's a great idea to keep intersections safe. Politicians initially agree, at least until they get slapped with a fine. Then suddenly it's a moneymaking scheme.

Re:Politics as usual (4, Informative)

TheCarp (96830) | about 3 months ago | (#45715137)

Im sorry, where did you get the idea that this helped keep intersections safe? Keeping intersections safe is actually fairly trivial without any sort of RLC or punishment. All you need to do, which many places already have done, is slightly increase the length of yellow lights, and delay the green transition on the other traffic lane, so that there is a period of 1-2 seconds where all sides are red; and thus cars that may have been late past the line, have time to make it through.

Sure it may not play into some people's fetish for punishment and strict rules enforcement, but, it does a great job of increasing safety.

And in light of that, when cities get caught reducing the yellow light time at lights, which is less safe and increases the chances of an accident, then YES it is a money making scheme.

Re:Politics as usual (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715403)

Drivers will adapt. When they learn that there are 1-2 seconds during which all lights are red, passing a red light two seconds after it turned red will become normal.

Philipp

Re:Politics as usual (2)

Jabrwock (985861) | about 3 months ago | (#45715411)

And once you've done all that, and you still have people running the red? My city did all of the above, and now people run the red because they know the other side doesn't get the green right away, so it's "OK".

Re:Politics as usual (1)

Matheus (586080) | about 3 months ago | (#45715583)

I'm proud to live in a state that deemed these cameras unconstitutional a long time ago.

I also live in a state / metro where re-timing light changes is excessively utilized. Delays as long as 5 seconds are employed between one side's Red and the cross traffic's Green. Although the concept of a delay is one I think is beneficial I think that is going too far. 1-2 seconds *tops are enough to up the stats but any longer and we have people jumping the red on the front side, not the back side of the green. Similarly dangerous especially when combined with the recent trend of re-scheduling lights as well. (reversing the rotation, giving a second turn signal turn, etc) jumping the green is one thing but if you jump the green and it turns out it wasn't your green you get lots of trouble coming your way.

That and 3+ (we have an entire road that's 6) *minute long cycles could really stand to go away. Make people wait too long at a light and they will start deciding it's "worth it" to circumvent the impediment to their forward progress.

Re:Politics as usual (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 3 months ago | (#45715147)

Most police i know don't like them because they take a job from a person.

As for the monitary scheme, you can see that in the debate in ohio's legislature. One side of the isle actually said banning them would deny cities of a significant source of income at a time the state is restricting funding to those cities. And i bet your first guess to the party affiliatation of that law maker would be wrong (Hint, the republicans in Ohio seem to be against them). In my home town, the concept of revenue certainly was brought up as a plus to installing them. We tried to force the city council to provide a separate line item for the revenue from them with no luck and people regularly time the lights to see if they change. They were installed at the busiest intersections that seem to have the least accidents. Most of them have been from rear end colisions and when traffic is thick, you are lucky to get more that 15mph between lights.

Re:Politics as usual (2, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#45715547)

They took our jerbs!

Frankly, that sounds great. I'm all for automating tasks that keep real police doing something other than sitting at intersections on motorcycles trying to fill the city coffers.

Red Light Cameras? (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 3 months ago | (#45714659)

Came hoping they have something to do with the Red Light District. Left disappointed.

Re:Red Light Cameras? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714877)

Rraaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhxxannne!

Re:Red Light Cameras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715343)

...put on the red light!

If the fines were lower... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714699)

I've been caught twice on red light cameras. One I was truly guilty of, and that was plain to see on video. The other was because the intersection became a "no turn on red" intersection and I didn't notice the sign because I've driven through the area a million times. Problem is that the local police charge $75 per incident, which is quite high considering they don't have to do any police work to catch us.

I think if it were structured with smaller fines and eventually violation points for people who keep running the lights over and over, then people would have fewer problems with it. I know a lot of privacy minded people have a problem with it, but there really are a lot of people around here who ignore very red lights and could cause accidents.

Re:If the fines were lower... (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 3 months ago | (#45714821)

I know a lot of privacy minded people have a problem with it, but there really are a lot of people around here who ignore very red lights and could cause accidents.

I don't see safety as an excuse for ignoring people's privacy or rights.

Re:If the fines were lower... (4, Insightful)

wcrowe (94389) | about 3 months ago | (#45714985)

You're saying you have a right to run red lights? And law enforcement should not be able to identify you in your vehicle? Really?

Re:If the fines were lower... (4, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 3 months ago | (#45715119)

You're saying you have a right to run red lights?

Interpreting what I said in that way is like saying that people who oppose DUI checkpoints are asserting the right to drink and drive. Absurd. I simply oppose having government cameras everywhere.

Re:If the fines were lower... (0)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 3 months ago | (#45715307)

I simply oppose having government cameras everywhere.

But you wouldn't have an issue with a cop on every using a camera to film everyone who at the intersection, right? After all, you are in a public space.

Re:If the fines were lower... (4, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 3 months ago | (#45715533)

But you wouldn't have an issue with a cop on every using a camera to film everyone who at the intersection, right?

That takes manpower. Disallowing government cameras in public places except those that are on a cop's person or on a cop's car seems like a more sensible policy to me. Mass, automatic surveillance is far different than a guy carrying a camera.

After all, you are in a public space.

Public space or no, it's our money, and they're supposed to be working for us. Hopefully they'll do what we say.

Re:If the fines were lower... (2)

afidel (530433) | about 3 months ago | (#45715175)

law enforcement should not be able to identify you

Sure, LEO's absolutely have the ability to identify me, RLC's have zero to do with LEO's, they are private money making machines with the profits split with the municipalities. Basically they're the modern incarnation of the robber barons of the River Rhine, and when they receive too little income the companies pressure the municipalities into reducing the yellow time at the intersection which multiple studies have shown significantly reduces the safety at intersections where the cameras are installed, exactly the opposite of their stated purpose.

Re:If the fines were lower... (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 3 months ago | (#45715243)

Hmm actually I would say you have the right to only be subject to as much legal scrutiny as is necessary; and not just whatever old arbitary standard somebody makes up. Which is where I would put "no turn on red".

Since turn on red already requires that one stop, and already requires that it only be done when safe to do so, and to yeild to oncoming traffic; there really is no justification to ever have such a sign. Also, since there are much more effective ways to make intersections safe than to quibble over split seconds over lines (like a slightly delayed green).... running a red light really should only be the case of blatant runs after the change, or careless driving, rather than just "the rules justify the rules" BS.

Re:If the fines were lower... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715389)

I know a lot of privacy minded people have a problem with it, but there really are a lot of people around here who ignore very red lights and could cause accidents.

I don't see safety as an excuse for ignoring people's privacy or rights.

I see some people use "privacy" "as an excuse" for "ingoring" one of "people's rights": to use public roads with "safety"...

Re:If the fines were lower... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 3 months ago | (#45715561)

Public doesn't mean you get to ignore privacy or rights issues, and privacy is no mere excuse. You seem a bit unprincipled to desire safety that strongly.

Re:If the fines were lower... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715625)

First, fuck you.

Second, morons like you are the biggest problem in this country. You are turning this country into the police state it has become. Again, fuck you.

Third, this entire debate is stupid. This is another one of those bullshit, victimless, thought crimes. If someone causes an accident by running a red light, then there are consequences for the accident. This entire idea that we have to make more laws to punish things that MIGHT lead to other crimes is complete bullshit. There are already laws for accidents. There are traffic laws. Running a red light warrants a ticket if LAW ENFORCEMENT sees it. A red light camera is NOT law enforcement. If someone wants to take a chance on running a red light and getting a ticket, that's their risk. If they cause an accident, that was also their risk and there are severe penalties already.

Red light cameras however, make intersections MORE dangerous because everyone is now worried about quickly getting through the intersection to not get caught by the camera. People are focusing on the light changing instead of the traffic at the intersection. So, spare me this "safety" bullshit, let us know when you become an adult, and grow a fucking backbone.

Re:If the fines were lower... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715043)

"I think if it were structured with smaller fines and eventually violation points for people who keep running the lights over and over, ..."

Are you mad? Don't you know that these are Rich People?

Re:If the fines were lower... (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 3 months ago | (#45715117)

The thing that sucks isn't the fine ($75 bucks? pff) but the fucking insurance hit you take for driving like an asshole.

Re:If the fines were lower... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715409)

I don't know where you live... but where I live (Colorado), RLC "tickets" can't do anything to your driving record or your insurance. In fact, we just throw them away. The cameras are operated by a private company and collected by another private company; are NOT legitimate citations; and you cannot be issued any kind of warrant whatsoever for failing to do anything whatsoever about them.

The "ticket" you get in the mail has all sorts of threatening legalese on it, but read it carefully, and you'll find it's carefully crafted nonsense. You have no obligation to pay or even respond, as there is no legal force behind it. The traffic court it says you're to appear at has zero jurisdiction *until* you show up. No cop can come cite you either, since no cop physically saw you do anything. Throw it away.

This spreading knowledge is, I think, why we're seeing a reduction in the use of the cameras. The scam isn't working so well any more, and the collected "fines" aren't justifying the operating costs paid by the cities to the private contractors.

Re:If the fines were lower... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715679)

Thank you! I'm also in Colorado. I have heard from at least two different lawyers that red light (and speeding) cameras are completely invalid unless personally served. Since no LEO will personally serve you because they didn't actually see it, these tickets are trash. They are extortion. They make threats that have no legal backing to scare you into giving them money.

Re:If the fines were lower... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#45715565)

I've been caught twice on red light cameras. One I was truly guilty of, and that was plain to see on video. The other was because the intersection became a "no turn on red" intersection and I didn't notice the sign because I've driven through the area a million times.

Ah, so, you mean TWICE you were guilty.

RLC are a money making scheme, always accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714701)

RLC cause more accidents because people slamming on their brakes for yellow lights. It is documented.

Re:RLC are a money making scheme, always accurate (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 3 months ago | (#45714811)

RLC cause more accidents because people slamming on their brakes for yellow lights. It is documented.

Not only are they a money making scheme, they're dangerous as well. Sounds like it's BAU for politicians these days.

Re:RLC are a money making scheme, always accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715045)

One reason I drive with a dash cam is that some red light cameras will randomly have no yellow light. Yep, green->red. Of course, without a dash cam showing this, and even then, good luck if the light is above the vehicle, this is an easy score for the private company manning the light. Since it is random, it is word against a photograph.

Re:RLC are a money making scheme, always accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714843)

true, dat, true. homey say make the yellow light longer to be playing safe in the streetz, a'ight?

Re:RLC are a money making scheme, always accurate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715031)

Usually cities decrease the yellow light time in order to boost revenue. Albuquerque was caught doing that at several intersection. Another trick they would pull is put some orange barrels along the side of the road and declare it a construction zone (eligible for double fines) then park a speed van around the next corner. No one slows down as there is obviously no construction, profit.
Eventually the citizenry got sick of the crap and forced the pols to pull the cameras, but they didn't let their little money makers go easily.

Captcha: villains

Re:RLC are a money making scheme, always accurate (2)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#45715071)

In driver's ed, we were taught that yellow means "stop, if it is safe to do so." In practice (I live in Mass), yellow seems to mean "stomp on the gas" to most people.

Re:RLC are a money making scheme, always accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715491)

"I watched you very closely. Red means stop, green means go, yellow means go-very-fast.."

-- Starman

Re:RLC are a money making scheme, always accurate (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 3 months ago | (#45715217)

I would also imagine that, given the weather I see outside my window right now (snowing), they would be an utter disaster here. You try to stop and end up skidding into the intersection, whereupon you get ticketed. Now, of course, some people caught this way will have just been going too fast, but I think more would be caught by the yellow light that is fine for normal conditions being too short for slippery roads.

thet dismantled the system in san diego (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714707)

i was glad

Re:thet dismantled the system in san diego (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715113)

And being a San Diego native, I was pretty damn surprised as well, because San Diego is a big city for law enforcement-bootlicking. Here in San Diego, a red-light camera ticket was around 500 bucks, and surprise, only 100 of those dollars from each ticket went back to the city. The other 400 bucks? You guessed it, a private corporation owned by somebody who knew people in high places.

Because of this city's horrible public transportation and suburban sprawl, you need a car to be able function. So you get a red light ticket, which costs you 500 bucks, and now you have to cancel your vacation or choose between paying rent or the ticket. I once saw a red light camera on Aero Drive off the 15 north with its head beaten off, hanging by a threat. I'd like to shake the hand of that good samaritan who beat the shit out of that fucking camera.

RLC's making money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714711)

The RLC's would not make ANY money if people did not run red lights. "Pure and simple!"

Re:RLC's making money... (1)

PIBM (588930) | about 3 months ago | (#45714785)

Until they start adjusting the lights and RLC limits to start making money again. Depending on where you live, it can be a for-profit company running the lights settings and handing out the tickets. That's actually the case around here, and they are adding more and more cameras :(

Re:RLC's making money... (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about 3 months ago | (#45714993)

Until they start adjusting the lights and RLC limits to start making money again.

Then live in a liberal-dominated state like California, where there are state laws about how long the yellow light must be on before the lights turn to red.

Re:RLC's making money... (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#45715109)

Around here, they're almost all 2 seconds long, and the green generally occurs 2 seconds after red for the other direction. They're quite predictable for the most part (but we don't have RLCs all over the place).

Re:RLC's making money... (2)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#45715187)

Also, around here, they paint these lines on the ground leading up to an intersection. If you're doing the speed limit, on a dry day, a moderate amount of breaking force will bring you to a safe stop if you begin braking at the beginning of the line. If the light is yellow at or before the beginning of that line, you stop. If the light turns yellow and you're past the line, you generally have enough time to cross the intersection safely.

Re (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715671)

I think at this point all states have at minimum regulations for minimum yellow light time. However this does not stop cities from mistiming yellow lights. Of course it was an accident, or simply maintenance hadn't gotten to that one yet to correct it.

Ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714849)

Which is why many cities seeing decreased revenue for that very reason from their cameras decreased the yellow light times & began throwing in other rules (no turn on red for example).

Re:RLC's making money... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#45714857)

If you removed the red lights and replaced them with round abouts, you wouldn't need the cameras, lights, or tickets. You'd increase safety, reduce the need for enforcement and increase traffic flow in the effected area. But don't let safety and common sense get in the way of the local police getting a new squad car.

Re:RLC's making money... (1)

ApplePy (2703131) | about 3 months ago | (#45715505)

Hah. Denver, CO was nailing people for stopping with their bumpers in the crosswalk. So not running reds, but stopping a few inches too late.

You obviously lack imagination. A crook will always find a way with the money-making schemes. And strangely, there will always be sanctimonious fuckwits defending said crooks as long as the crooks sell their scam as safety.

Yah, politicians responding to the people's wishes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714715)

You know, by doing something about something completely unimportant in the greater scheme of things, but very popular regardless.

Let me know when they act constructively with regards to a meaningful issue.

RLCs = more danger (5, Informative)

Akratist (1080775) | about 3 months ago | (#45714755)

DOT studies a while back showed that increasing yellow light time by a second or so would reduce red-light accidents. However, RLC contracts often come with a stipulation that yellow light time is reduced, by at least a half second or more, to increase revenues. These things need to go, the sooner the better.

Re:RLCs = more danger (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#45714831)

I'm not sure about the "stipulation" aspect, which sounds made up, but they frequently do change yellow times(because greedy scumbags).

Re:RLCs = more danger (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#45714935)

Yeah, pics or that didn't happen. It would be discoverable and too easy of a target for a lawsuit. TFA states that the local government determined the timings and the Good Cop who was profiled would never, ever do anything so nefarious as to decrease the yellow light timing. But, of course, there are lots of different people in a government, some more persuadable than others.

The one factoid that always pisses me off in this discussion is that a brief double red cuts down on T-bone accidents significantly. It would seem that lawyers could just clobber a town on that particular alone.

Re:RLCs = more danger (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 3 months ago | (#45715193)

In my experience, they don't have to.
When I was in Chicago, the yellows didn't have to be shortened for me to see someone getting flashed almost every day.
In France, they used to put a big sign on the highway "watch out, radar coming", and they still pulled in over $100M every year. That must not have been enough, they are removing the signs, and putting another radar in front of some to warn you that you're going too fast and about to get caught. Wanna bet if the revenue if going to drop?

Yes, some jurisdictions will tinker with the parameters to make more cash. But the radars (red light or speed) are already fully paid for in a few short months because nothing short of a cop in the car is going to prevent some idiots from getting caught.

Re:RLCs = more danger (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714893)

You also need to mandate green light length.

So 2 seconds for yellow. Then 1 second for green. Is that enough to actually get across the intersection? That depends on the intersection and the car.

Min length green (say 2-3 cars from a stop and, cars that do a 15 second 1/4 mile). Then enough time for 1-2 cars to make it thru the light on yellow at full speed. Then red in all directions for at least 1-2 seconds.

All phases of the light need min lengths.

Re:RLCs = more danger (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 3 months ago | (#45715023)

Yeah, I've seen plenty of intersections where, once the light turns yellow, there is not enough time to cross before it turns red while going the posted speed limit. Every intersection is different and should have its own timing based on speed limit, length, and other factors.

Re:RLCs = more danger (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715177)

Fortunately, most traffic laws require you to ENTER the intersection on red. If you're already in it and the light turns red, you're required to clear it, but cannot be ticketed unless you don't.

I do not know what the rules are if you are moving and just a portion of your car has entered the intersection on red, however, most RLCs do have a a few tenths of a second delay, so chances are you're okay.

Not that I think RLCs make any sense at all (the one nearby me just moved all the accidents out of the intersection into the street, and generated more of them), but getting "nabbed" usually requires one photo entering and another photo in the middle of the intersection. If one of those is missing, they go on to the next case and you go home (or, more likely, they don't even mail a ticket out).

That and RLCs are like trying to solve your pet's toilet habits by waiting a couple of weeks and then rubbing their nose in it.

Re:RLCs = more danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715417)

Fortunately, most traffic laws require you to ENTER the intersection on red.

That varies from state to state, county to county, and city to city. Where I grew up it was cleared the intersection by the time it turned red. I believe it is the same where I currently live. I have seen like you said as well.

money-making scheme (2, Informative)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 3 months ago | (#45714795)

I think red-light cameras have a negative connotation _because_ they make money and that is unfortunate.
Most every successful business makes money so if you want to contract out police work such as traffic speed enforcement, that contractor _has_ to make money.
If you want to keep the job in-house so-to-speak, well the government doesn't have to make money but then everybody whines about how expensive it is to maintain this wonderful society we have _because_ of government. They think it costs too much because all they look at is the expense of taxes, not benefit of courts, police, and laws that form a well-regulated market safe for businesses and customers.
Then all it takes is enough wealthy citizens and politicians getting actual tickets they can't talk or bribe their way out of and traffic enforcement gets to stop.

We either want laws or we don't. If you think less government is best, move to Somalia.
We have yet to analyze our systems correctly (i.e. scientifically instead of politically).

Re:money-making scheme (4, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | about 3 months ago | (#45714833)

We either want laws or we don't. If you think less government is best, move to Somalia.

I'm pretty sure we can establish a middle ground somewhere between Somalia and North Korea.

Re:money-making scheme (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#45714955)

I'm pretty sure we can establish a middle ground somewhere between Somalia and North Korea.

(Looks at map, finds North America pretty much exactly between those two countries).

Been there, done that. Now what?

Re:money-making scheme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714879)

If you think less government is best, move to Somalia.

You seem like a totally reasonable person, open to debate and discussion with those who do not share your opinions

Re:money-making scheme (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 3 months ago | (#45715011)

well the government doesn't have to make money

You must not live in the same US that I live in. I've worked with city police and I constantly heard about decisions between buying a new patrol car or hiring another officer. I know many departments that would love to have more money to spend on people/tools.

Re:money-making scheme (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 3 months ago | (#45715057)

Then raise taxes.

Taxes are a relatively efficient way of raising revenue. Traffic tickets are not.

Re:money-making scheme (5, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 months ago | (#45715101)

if you want to contract out police work

We don't want to contract out police work. Ever. Why even bother having a government if you're going to contract out its essential functions?

The profit motive should never come anywhere near law enforcement. The moment anyone in government starts thinking of profit instead of public service is the moment tyranny begins. The only thing that should guide a police department is how they can best serve their community, not how they can best increase their budget.

Re:money-making scheme (5, Interesting)

ProZachar (410739) | about 3 months ago | (#45715489)

My kingdom for mod points.

I argue that money paid for fines should be incinerated. Seriously. Government, whether it's city hall, the local police, the statehouse, or the national government, should never, ever have a financial gain when its citizens commit crimes. Ever. Scratch that; nobody, not government, not charities, not schools, nobody, should have a financial interest in citizens committing crimes. Make crime a source of income, and suddenly you find that whomever benefits from fines thinks a lot of things should be crimes.

Crime is bad (well, real crime like murder, rape and robbery). Nobody should benefit from it.

Restitution is different; that money should go to making the victim whole (not rich, whole), as much as possible.

Re:money-making scheme (1)

captbob2002 (411323) | about 3 months ago | (#45715191)

I think red-light cameras have a negative connotation _because_ they make money and that is unfortunate....

I figure they'd not make money if people were not habitually running red lights. Don't want a ticket? Don't run the damn light.

My support for such cameras is conditional that the light timing NOT not be fscked with in order to maximize the potential of someone getting a ticket - I just want those that run the normally timed lights to feel a little pain for being is such a hurry or not leaving early enough for where they want to be.

Getting rear-ended is bad, getting T-boned is generally worse.

Re:money-making scheme (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 months ago | (#45715381)

We either want laws or we don't. If you think less government is best, move to Somalia.

Umm, no.

There are some laws we can all agree on.

There are some we disagree on.

The fact that I approve of SOME laws in no way implies that I approve of ALL laws.

By the same token, the fact that I disapprove of SOME laws in no way implies that I don't want ANY laws.

Re:money-making scheme (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 3 months ago | (#45715383)

I'm not convinced the red-light cameras are about enforcing the law. I have 2 major reasons for thinking this:

1. Red-light cameras are sold to governments as non-tax revenue sources. That means the purpose the politicians care about is raising money without dealing with the controversy of raising taxes.

2. The placement of red-light cameras, at least near where I live, correlates not with the locations with the highest violation of red light laws, but with the most politically powerless residents. In other words, you find the red light cameras all over the ghetto, but nowhere near the rich neighborhoods where people routinely take city streets at 45-50 mph.

Re:money-making scheme (3, Insightful)

Galaga88 (148206) | about 3 months ago | (#45715527)

If you look at the report Ars Technica discusses, they found that red light cameras at intersections were configured to cover those lanes that would would generate the most revenue but were not necessarily the most dangerous. Furthermore, only 10% of the revenue goes to the city, which means it's definitely a profit center for the company.

People are already rightfully suspicious of government's authority to levy fines and taxes, but we allow it because we know that in principle (if not always or even usually in practice) it's to further the public good. Private companies have no such social responsibility and no reason to not abuse their position to maximize how much money they can extract from the public.

So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714799)

Has there been any long term research that showed that these things were anything but a revenue generator? Everything I've seen seemed to indicate that they increased incidents of minor accidents and showed no statistically significant decrease of fatal accidents at intersections.

POT (Personal Open Terminal) wwwildly popular (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714803)

apparently it's not 'new' as in never happened (openness).

lf all of US volunteered to use POT the lives of the spys would become less stressful,,, spiritual rebounding from the failed attempt to enemize US with malware as seen on tv.... no such thing as nothing

let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714827)

I'm guessing that the same people that oppose them are the ones that pushed hardest to make them optimized for moneymaking instead of safety.

oh great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714829)

Bills are also pending in Florida and Ohio that would ban the devices entirely

Thats great that while there is pending legislation to ban them that they are still active and sending out tickets. Guess they dont really need the red light cameras here in Ohio anymore since an officer can just guess your speed and ticket you for it anyways.

now if we could just put some time in to getting out of that pesky agreement ohio got themselves in to with Correction Corporation of America to keep their private prisons stocked with 'offenders'

Re:oh great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715235)

Currently, the only way to fight a red light camera in Florida is to file an APPEAL to the circuit court.
From http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/funding/Manual.shtml
Civil filing fee:
2 410 FILING FEE $195.00 F/M 28.241(1)(a)
Hmm, fight it in court or just pay the red-light fine?

I bet it's not about safety in most cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714841)

Sometimes? Over here the implementers were talking about having 2 second ambers/yellows. That proves it's not about safety.

If they also talked about increasing yellows to 5.5 seconds only then I'd believe it's about safety. Anyone running a red light when they have a 5.5 second yellow deserves to be booked. 2 seconds is ridiculous, even 3 seconds is too short in certain places.

Not to mention potentially unconstitutional. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45714855)

Red light camera arrangements are in many cases tantamount to a government entity effectively delegating powers reserved to it (the power to issue summons, the power to levy fines) to private companies. Even the appeals process on these fines are generally heard by an "administrative officer" and not a judge.

This is quite possibly at odds with the Due Process of Law guarantee in the US provided by the 5th amendment - a private company fine not supervised by the judiciary is not generally the "due process" envisioned.

Realtime facial recognition monitoring ongoing (1)

EngineeringStudent (3003337) | about 3 months ago | (#45714975)

The Phx AZ traffic light system is built with the data capacity to provide realtime high-resolution imaging that would support online/real-time tracking of individuals. You can (and I have) called 911 to report individuals walking in traffic, and the dispacher was able to identify the individual by color of clothing and where they were. This isn't the speeding-ticket camera, this is city-based camera built into/onto the traffic lights. Whether or not people realize or value it - privacy stopped existing in the USA a long time ago, and it isn't coming back. Big brother thinks he should be trusted AND spends accordingly on infrastructure. These folks like their billion-dollar a year budgets, and the sense of power. That isn't going to change any time soon. The next person you give that billion dollar a year budget and all that power too is going to go just as big-brother as the last guy. Power corrupts, remember?

Maybe the jurisdictions that are opting out of red-light cameras operated by third-parties already have their own infrastructure that makes the third party irrelevant.

I wonder if there are going to be local/city-level disclosures about tracking of girlfriends using this system like there were for the NSA.
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/08/23/nsa-officers-sometimes-spy-on-love-interests/ [wsj.com]

Re:Realtime facial recognition monitoring ongoing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715285)

BINGO!

Oh, sorry, I'm playing NSA bingo. I get to put down a marker on every non-NSA, non-intelligence story that mentions them. I call this Anonymous Coward's Law: Any discussion of sufficient length will eventually invoke an NSA comment.

Re:Realtime facial recognition monitoring ongoing (1)

EngineeringStudent (3003337) | about 3 months ago | (#45715391)

What a harmless looking comment. It is, in fact, so innocuous looking that it would make a great bookmark for someone in the NSA doing a followup search.

I think your "law" is really just an approximate measure of the technical pervasiveness of the NSA tracking and the social consequences of that.

RLC's *are* money-making schemes! (2, Informative)

sydbarrett74 (74307) | about 3 months ago | (#45714979)

Another thing that should be banned is one- or two-second yellow lights. At every intersection in my area (Chesterfield County, VA) where they've shortened the duration of a yellow light, accidents have spiked dramatically. The original reason for the implementation of such was so that more tickets could be written, but as usual, the PHB's in the county offices didn't acknowledge that costs for police, ambulances and fire-engines to respond to an accident scene would outweigh any additional revenue.

What's the answer? (5, Interesting)

wcrowe (94389) | about 3 months ago | (#45715067)

I am reminded of a conversation I had with my daughter when she was about four. We were driving around and came to a stoplight. "What does red mean?" I asked her. "Stop", she replied. "And what does green mean?" I said. "GO!" she yelled. "And what does yellow mean?" She thought for a minute, and said, "Go real fast?"

This gave me some insight into the driving habits of her mother.

I know that red light cameras have sometimes been abused, but what are we supposed to do about the pandemic of red-light-running?

Re:What's the answer? (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 3 months ago | (#45715385)

I think you mean the pandemic of badly timed lights that make no allowances for driver error. Since drivers are still humans, they will always make errors. Deciding this is a pandemic is ridiculous. This is human nature. You either design around the fact that people are imperfect, or you design to fail.

Simply increasing the length of yellow lights and delaying green by all of a second or two has been shown to decrease these problems; enforcement has been shown to do little more than bring in money; and often, makes problems worst. Red light cameras, for example have been shown to lead to an increase in accidents at the intersections where they get installed.

Re:What's the answer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715589)

Red light cameras, for example have been shown to lead to an increase in accidents at the intersections where they get installed.

You are simultaneously in an accident and not in an accident, until the red light camera photographs you.
That is why simply installing a camera at an intersection will directly lead to an increase in accidents at that intersection...

Re:What's the answer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715421)

Increase the time of four-way red.

Re:What's the answer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45715501)

I know that red light cameras have sometimes been abused, but what are we supposed to do about the pandemic of red-light-running?

1) Red Light Cameras that aren't fudged (get wrong plate numbers, have the ability to contest, properly marked stop zones)
2) Shorten the green by 1 second, lengthen the yellow by 2
3) Include Timers that time the existing light
4) Make the fines for pedestrians (if you can catch them) that cross against the light and driving offenders disgustingly high
5) Keep it maintained, make sure sensors work (to trigger green) and be willing to honestly adjust the timers.

The timers and high fines worked like a charm when I was in ChongQing; don't know if they fine jaywalkers, but that was the first time I'd seen anyone observe crosswalks in a major city anywhere (Don't even get me started about Boston).

Timers are awesome, if you have to glance away for a second, you know to not do it just before it changes. If someone isn't looking, they'll get a honk within the first second from people who ARE watching. Allow the honest offenders the ability to correct themselves, then you remove the excuse from the overt offenders. Then, make money off of them.

I'm not great about red lights where I live, if they started to enforce, I'd be better about it. The problem is that it's only ever been implemented as a money grab, and even supporters of it for safety resent that.

Re:What's the answer? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 3 months ago | (#45715503)

The answer is to have yellow lights be a reasonable length so that people don't need to make a choice between flooring the accelerator and slamming on the brakes forcing a rear-end collision.

Re:What's the answer? (1)

TyFoN (12980) | about 3 months ago | (#45715653)

If you need to slam the bakes to stop for a yellow signal you are going waaaay to fast into the intersection anyway.

Nevertheless. We don't have anything resembling those cameras here and quite long yellow light. People still slam the brakes or floor it when the yellow hits.
Some stop in the middle of the road blocking everyone too :)

Bottom line: people can't drive so nothing really helps except building roads that make it impossible for vehicles to cross in that way.

Re:What's the answer? (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 3 months ago | (#45715553)

You could better alert the drivers of how much time they actually have. For instance, most lights are getting replaced with a grouping of LEDs. Why not alter the pattern of the LEDs to indicate different things? You can't go too crazy, or else it will become distracting, but what about instead of having a solid yellow for the "yellow" light, we have a solid yellow circle in the center, with something akin to a circular progress bar that fills up around the outer edge? I know for me, my decision between "maintain speed" (or "increase speed") and "brake" when seeing a yellow is based on how long I expect it to last, and the times I run red lights are largely the result of my inaccuracy in guessing how long they will last (particularly so if I didn't see the moment where it turned yellow), rather than out of an intentional decision to run the red light. Give the drivers that info and I'd expect that a good chunk of them would use it to make better decisions.

Re:What's the answer? (1)

ApplePy (2703131) | about 3 months ago | (#45715655)

what are we supposed to do about the pandemic of red-light-running?

Lengthen the yellows, and lengthen the delay to the cross green.

It's only mentioned several hundred times every time this subject comes up on /. Pull your head out and read the other comments sometime. Do pay attention; we're having what we call a "discussion" here.

Aren't they clearly labeled? (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 3 months ago | (#45715089)

We have two red light traffic cams in town. I know exactly which two red lights they are. There are big signs that say, "HEY THIS LIGHT HAS A CAMERA." I can understand an out-of-towner possibly not being aware of them, but that means someone was texting instead of looking at the giant sign warning about it as they sped through a red light.

This isn't to say I disagree - the cameras are stupid, and clearly designed to generate revenue rather than increase safety. But we've dealt with them for years and I've never once gotten a ticket because I don't run red lights.

Re:Aren't they clearly labeled? (1)

Wamoc (1263324) | about 3 months ago | (#45715295)

The red light cameras are not always clearly marked. Some of them near me have signs for it, but others don't have a sign at all.
And your assertion that you haven't had problems with them since you don't run red lights is ridiculous. I don't run red lights either and I have had them take pictures of me when I was the first car in the line and I didn't clear the intersection before it turned red (I was paying attention and started into the intersection immediately after it turned green). I know of one that takes a picture of every vehicle turning left (been doing that for about 5 years now). There are times/places where it is impossible to not get hit by the red light cameras without knowing the flawed ones.

There's a deeper problem. (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#45715115)

Self-financing police departments create a conflict of interest. It pressures the police to go for the crimes that bring them the most money - ones that are easy and cheap to detect, even if they don't actually cause any time - and to resort to dirty tricks to increase the profit further. There's a simple solution to this: Don't give the fines to the departments (or, in this case, contracted companies) who actually enforce the law. Put them into a big state-wide pot, and each year divide it up between departments in the ratio of population (Possibly adjusted for crime rate). Likewise to any proceeds from police auctions and asset seizures.

Drivers are responsible for accidents, not cameras (2)

mar.kolya (2448710) | about 3 months ago | (#45715239)

It is rather funny how people blame everything and everyone for accidents but not themselves. Yes, of course, RLC are to blame for collisions, not drivers who speed and follow too close! Drive according to rules and RLC won't cause any trouble. Moreover, it seems to me that accidents caused by RLC would be minor comparing to accidents caused by running red light. During this type of collision everybody is already braking, speeds are lower. Rear end collision in most cases hits the front of the car which is design to absorb this hit, also car in front slides forward and in most cases there are only one or two occupants in the front of the car, so they are not hit by car in the back. But if you look into commissions caused by running red light the story is different. Car running red light is actually accelerating in a hope to 'make it' - the speeds are higher. One of the vehicles is being hit in the side causing much more damage. So yeah, RLCs are a moneygrab. Just like any other type of law enforcement. And prisons are legitimate form of slavery. Anarchy - the way to go, right.

Money making? (1)

Kleebner (533168) | about 3 months ago | (#45715631)

These things do not "make money", they "get money". Making money implies that they have created some sort of value.

Always wondered.... (1)

ihatethetv (935399) | about 3 months ago | (#45715647)

I got a ticket in Dallas once, and my dad got one in Miami recently. Looking at the pictures, and even the video in my case) you can see the infraction...but you can't see the person in the car. Now I don't have tints or anything, but the video is shot from the back in both of those cases and you can't see me or my father. When I got my ticket (several weeks after the incident), I was honestly not sure if it was me or my then-girlfriend driving my car that day. So how is it legal for them to ticket en masse without verifying identity, only identifying the car itself?
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