TechnologyTell

Of Traffic Court and Red Light Cameras

Sections: Car Safety, Telematics

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Today I found myself in a place only more detested than the DMV…Traffic Court.  While waiting for the long lag time between cutting a deal with the prosecuting attorneys and waiting on the judge to approve it, there was a video on loop in the waiting area.  According to the video:

Why does Nassau County need red-light cameras? red light camera

Traffic studies show that red-light running is a problem at several intersections in Nassau County. The goal of the red-light camera program is to change driver behavior. Studies across the country prove that red-light camera programs are successful at reducing the number of red-light runners and increasing compliance with traffic laws, thus making roadways safer for all drivers and pedestrians.

At first, I was disgruntled by red light cameras.  But after watching the flatscreen on the wall with insane T-Bone collisions on loop, I was a bit more sold on them.  Even after hearing all of the naysayers and their rear-end collision statistics.  After all, if I were in an accident at an intersection, I would want a camera taping the works.

So what is the answer for us road warriors?  As it is always- technology.  The ability for apps to bring in red light camera locations and display them on native navigation systems is the next step.  These apps are available for portable smartphone nav apps (such as Magellan) or specialty apps (such as Escort Live), but the ability to get red light data on the vehicle nav system and send an alert to the dashboard is the next step for the best experience.  Of course, in our financially-strapped county we need not worry.  It seems they are planting red light cameras at every intersection…

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4 Comments

  1. Here’s just two questions:
    1. How were those insane crashes captured? Was it:
    A. News footage from crews that just happened to be there,
    B. Existing traffic cameras that can document vehicle movement for crash investigation purposes but are not used to turn law enforcement into a for-profit scheme, or
    C. By the very automated for-profit devices installed to prevent such crashes?

    If the answer is C, then a reasonable person would ask how effective they are if they are still capturing crash after crash caused by red light violations after they have been installed.

    2. You’re far more likely to die as the victim of domestic violence than by a red light violation. Is it preferable to have cameras taping inside every home just in case that happens?

    Not to worry about the latter, as the camera vendors have not figured out how to monetize it… yet.

    Paul Henry
  2. Have you understood the irony of the fact that the films of these terrible t-bone crashes and near misses were recorded by red light cameras that did NOT stop them?

    Red light cameras were never designed to stop terrible t-bone crashes. There are far too few of these incidents for the fines to even come close to paying the typical red light camera costs of $4,000 to $5,000 per month per camera. If the cameras could only fine unsafe drivers, the industry would go bankrupt almost immediately.

    Red light cameras are designed to fine mostly safe drivers at intersections where the traffic lights are deliberately and maliciously mis-engineered to cause split second violations by safe drivers that do not cause safety hazards. It is the only way the math can work out for the cameras to be profitable. And profits are the ONLY motive. See our website for the research on how to time lights for safety – something that cities using cameras do NOT do because it guts the camera profits. It is a total scam.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

    James C. Walker
  3. Both very good points. I said ‘I was a bit more sold’ on them. Only a little. But I am still pissed when I get an envelope in the mail…
    You are correct- these cameras cannot stop, or perhaps even curtail T-bone crashes. However, as a prudent driver it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have footage of an accident to prove who was at fault. Of course, we could go with the Russian model and mount dashboard cams to all of our vehicles as well (so much for privacy). Unfortunately, I do not think we’ll be able to ever eradicate red light cameras from our society. They are cash cows that fill up the coffers of local government. But we can combat them using technology that alerts us when one is coming up at the next intersection. For now, that is the best solution. But we wish you godspeed as you fight the good fight.

    Brett Solomon
  4. “However, as a prudent driver it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have footage of an accident to prove who was at fault. ”

    I’ll refer my right honorable friend to the comment I made some time ago:

    B. Existing traffic cameras that can document vehicle movement for crash investigation purposes but are not used to turn law enforcement into a for-profit scheme…

    We train & employ police to investigate crashes & determine who was at fault. I did so for over 23 years on the Florida Highway Patrol.

    “Unfortunately, I do not think we’ll be able to ever eradicate red light cameras from our society. They are cash cows that fill up the coffers of local government.”

    As one that works against them mostly for free in our state legislature, I agree on the money aspect. But do not give up. I testified before the Collier County, Florida Commission in February 2013 and showed how they had 17 RLV crashes before and after the use of automated for-profit law enforcement for equal periods of time. The commission voted 3-2 not to extend the contract and instead adjust yellow and all-red timing. It’s a steep uphill battle, but one that will be won once this scheme gets the proper exposure and opponents organize into a cohesive force on this issue.

    Paul Henry