Red light cameras, cont’d

Turns out their economic appeal for municipalities isn’t so closely related to whether drivers are plowing through cross traffic against the stop light: “In Los Angeles, officials estimate that 80% of red light camera tickets go not to those running through intersections but to drivers making rolling right turns”. (L.A. Times via Bainbridge and Drum).


  • Let me tell you of my experience. I am a victim of the Red Light Camera Program here in NYC: On April 7th I was ticketed for going through a YELLOW light. A few weeks later, I got the summons in the mail with two photos showing exactly that. It was not enough beat the summons in NYC’s kangaroo traffic court. Several weeks later through the mail, the judge gives me a thumbs down. Included was an “technician’s report” refuting that the camera malfunctioned (under misdemeanor penalty of perjury). This vile injustice was upheld. That very night I head off to work – this time in the other direction. Just past the crosswalk, the light turns yellow. What do you think I did? I hit the brakes: YELLOW light = red light ticket. I knew the camera was there playing hardball; the woman behind me? Yellow light = hit the gas, it’s about to turn red. The result? Kapowww!!! I was rear-ended and sent flying across the intersection nearly knocked unconscious. It was five minutes before I crawled out of the car. I was in full uniform. The police took my gun (I’m a federal peace officer) and emergency medical techs immobilized my head and spine. I now suffer from a herniated disk, and I don’t know what my future holds. I may be in chronic pain for the rest of my life because New York City is downright ruthless in imposing an extortion plot. My car is totaled; the woman behind me? Her car totaled – mushroomed up to the top of the windshield. Oh, and BTW she has no insurance. I owe a $1,000 deductible AND as I have no gap insurance on my lease – maybe another $3,000 since my insurance will only pay book value. The woman is a turnip nobody can bleed.

    Ironically,my normal defensive driving habits would have prevented all or this; but I tried to stop at the crosswalk on the YELLOW light. This past week has been a nightmare, and it’s only started. What happened to my civil rights? Habeas Corpus – the right to confront your accuser in court? No luck there, it’s robot camera. The right to equal protection under the law? If YOU were stopped by a traffic cop you could face him in traffic court. The right to due process? A crooked judge found me guilty – they called my evidence (their photos no less) “not persuasive” – even though it showed a YELLOW light at my intersection and a red light two blocks away (the coloration was not at fault). I drew arrows to illustrate this fact. If it were about public safety, why not just increase the time of the yellow light and the time that both signals remain red? That would give time to clear the intersection.

    But it’s not about safety. It’s about cash – and YOU the motorist, are expendable.

    Further, the RLC companies are contracted to share loot. The result? Corporate greed enters the equation: An evil stew in a pot of avarice when mixed with a system already in conflict of interest and moderated by a crooked court: They rig the cameras and exhort the traffic department to reduce the time of the yellow signal as well. I have seen traffic signals go through a yellow light in almost the blink of an eye. I have spoken to three other people who’ve been ticketed on the yellow by these “Red” light cameras. These faulty cameras and signals and the crooked courts that uphold them represent a tyranny that’s injuring maybe even killing innocent drivers. Had I been on a motorcycle I would surely be dead. RLC’s are a dream come true for the tax and spend politicians who take the easy way out: And why not? They generate 14 million a year in NYC alone with more on the way. Proponents naively assume the cameras are only ticketing violators. But that is clearly not case – I would venture to guess between half and most of those ticketed are drivers completely innocent of wrongdoing: This is the other side of the issue the public is not aware of.

  • It is obvious that the traffic laws are used as a money-generating device for municipalities. Since no points are assessed for red light and speed camera violations, there use cannot be justified as a safety measure. All they do is provide large amounts of revenue for the jurisdictions.

    I noticed that the police were out in force for this Memorial Day Weekend handing out tickets by the truckload. But that’s okay because they are just looking out for our safety, right? If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you. I remember when I was growing up during every major holiday the news media would report the death count on the highways even more assiduously than they do for Iraq. We would get an hour-by-hour update of the “carnage on the roads”, with predictions of a record death toll. The news media tried to make us believe that people drove more recklessly on those holiday weekends. Of course the only reason more people were killed was the fact that there were more people driving those weekends. In fact the deaths per mile traveled were significantly less. As usually the news media felt that it was their job to lie to the public as long as in their view it was for our “own benefit”. This urban legend of people driving worse on holiday weekends goes along with that other well-known fact that more people are killed driving within 25 miles from their home. I know I always felt much safer when going on a long trip as soon as I was more than 25 miles from home. 🙂

  • I have a lot of sympathy for the travesty of justice alpan seems to have experienced.

    I would like to say that I don’t understand the logic that weighs rolling right turns lower than other red-light violations. Having been clipped myself while a pedestrian by a jerk who didn’t come to a complete stop and having had to pull my daughter out of the way of a similar situation, I see no reason not to enforce that law seriously.

  • Very interesting story from the Dallas Morning News about them cutting some red light cameras.

  • I really don’t understand how these cities are allowed to use a out of state third party to trample the bill of rights all under a local ordinance related to traffic control signals. My wife has received 2 of these lovely tickets. They pleasantly say that this is a “civil” violation not a criminal one, and will not count against your insurance. Just hurry up and pay us. It also states that you can request to speak with someone about it or contest via mail by a certain date. It is widespread now that cities are denying people a trial by jury. The seventh ammendment clearly states

    “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

    Since they love to remind you that this is a “civil” violation not a criminal one, why can’t you have a jury trial? The seventh ammendment clearly states the dollar amount.

    If a person shows that the light turns red and you are 4′ from the intersection, what can you do? Lock em UP.

    Also In Illinois the use of speed cameras is only allowed by the state, and an officer has to be present.

    So why would a city place the speed at the top of the photos? Answer. Intimidation.

    In my wife’s case it would have proven my point.

    Offer to any jury member to drive my wife’s SUV around a corner at 41MPH and if they live I will pay the $100, I can tell you right now you would be upside down.

    The speed measurement is way off its almost funny, but this is serious. I see these cameras flash when no one is going through the red or when people turn on the arrows. It is not nice of them to insert 2-3 seconds of red light after the yellow arrow expires. Normally the light changes to green after the arrow, but that setup won’t meet the quotas required in the camera contract. If there are no cars turning from the other side you get a turn arrow, and a green light, so even if the yellow arrow expires the light is not red.

    People don’t realize the problem here. This is clear cut evidence of a 7th ammendment violation when a city denies you a jury trial in this civil matter.

    There are many 2nd ammendment violations occuring here in Illinois. They are taking peoples guns away from them and openly talking about it.

    2 down how many to go?

  • Does anyone know what the lowest possible yellow light time is in New York State? I got ticketed for going through a light. I waent back–the yellow light stays on for less than 3 seconds!


    The Chicago Tribune’s February 7th editorial focused on the local bus company, the Chicago Transit Authority CTA being “encouraged” by the driver’s union to pay their member’s 1,200 red light camera tickets for a total of about $120.000! The CTA deemed the tickets to be a “bureaucratic nuisance” even as the rest of the public has to pay whether you own a car or not! It’s not inherently fair nor is it legal to hold one group of persons “above the law” while indiscriminately punishing another equal group for the same offenses. Citing CTA schedules and passenger safety excuses for running red lights doesn’t is no justification.

    Hundreds of millions in ticket revenue is just too tempting of a windfall for the city to ignore. Especially when it’s done under the “color of authority”, the color red. The entire city has become one enormous red light district. Traffic signals have historically been set to established national traffic engineering standards. The accepted rules of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers were established to promote safety, but they aren’t acknowledged in Chicago! Other city’s traffic experiences have shown accident increases after their respective red light camera installations.

    Red light cameras serve obediently 24 hours a day dutifully snapping pictures of license plates and converted at the “light speed” into a constant revenue stream that beats to the pulse of the politician’s pocketbook. What a golden thing it is to behold. The robocops have no regard for real traffic requirements such as the 85th percentile speed, approach velocity, forward head room, visual safety perception, mechanical maladies or radio frequency interference.

    Chicago joins the growing list of maniacal metropolises that include Chattanooga, TN, Dallas, TX, Springfield, MO, Lubbock, TX, Nashville, TN and Union City, CA that have been caught grossly cheating their drivers by local media using short-timed yellow traffic lights. News outlets shined the light of truth and turned the cameras back onto this seditious and dangerous practice to allow the cities to balance their particular budgets. Subsequent lengthening the yellow light timing results in fewer violations, less accidents, safer roads far less cost.

    Ticketed drivers can appear in front of a trained ticket clerk, but they soon find out that their “administrative” red light ticket challenges are stiffed by the political provisions of the ordinance. While these citations don’t currently add points to driver’s licenses, IT “CONVENIENTLY OUTLAWS” ANY LEGAL OR ETHICAL CHALLENGES. If drivers want to appeal their cases to a higher court another charge of $95 for a filing fee plus a mandatory downtown appearance. The city fathers figured the vast majority of drivers can’t afford the time coupled with almost no chance of winning to justify the effort.

    Apparently the laws of physics, motion or logic don’t apply within the windy city. The city has determined that all vehicles, drivers and intersections are identical by their very nature so a single three second yellow light timing standard is all that is needed, when actually it is barely the federal minimum. The city knowingly takes no notice of real world factors such as driver response times, vehicle size, inertia, road or visibility conditions that are recommended by traffic.

    Because accepted traffic signal engineering practices are ignored the city it consciously and directly participates in ongoing cases of “spontaneous legal entrapment” each time any of the stop lights turn red. The city stifles the increased rear-end accident facts after red light camera installations in many other cities. “The city that works”, makes drivers work for the department of revenue and leaves the city politicians with dirt on their hands!

  • It is rumored that the federal minimum yellow light time is three seconds, but try and find that. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices is about as close as you can get to a national that states are supposed to follow. The engineering recommendations have been systematically DILUTED to suit the red light ticket camera interests, no surprise. Hope that helps.