Still Seeing Red

Following mixed response from a past article on red light cameras, and as the heated debate of this topic seems to be only getting more heated by the day, the time is ripe for another discussion.

While I don’t wish to fully re-hash the sentiments I’ve previously expressed, so long as law enforcement and elected officials continue to spew their deceit and outright lies about these devices, I will continue to offer my dissenting opinion.

Supporters of the cameras say they help prevent accidents and “keep the roadways safer,” but their total refusal to present any sort of statistical data or documentation to support these claims is more than a little suspicious. There is no evidence to suggest the cameras are any more than a revenue machine.

The police will have you believe that as word of the cameras’ locations spreads, the threat of a ticket will be sufficient to detract most drivers from even trying to run a red light.

This same ideal is behind the cameras installed on some street corners across the country, and they have done nothing to prevent crime. I, for one, would rather have a cop patrolling the ‘traditional’ way, so when I’m getting my ass beat and mugged downtown after dark, there might be more of a helpful response than some uninterested voice coming over a loud speaker, encouraging thugs to “Please stop robbing that man. It’s not very nice.”

But still the politicians rant and rave about “safety” this and “preventing accidents” that. What a bunch of horseshit! If this were at all about safety, cities would invest in placing more officers at ‘trouble intersections.’ Furthermore, the tickets for running a red light would assess points against a driver’s license.

As I wrote before, though repeat violators face an increasing fine (which only increases to the third violation, then remains at a constant rate), no points will ever be assessed against a driver’s license for running a red light. So long as you have the cash on hand, in the eyes of the state, you could run a light every day of your life and never be formally punished!

As for “preventing accidents,” well, that’s simply a case of too little, too late. If someone runs a red light and causes an accident, it doesn’t matter if there are twelve cameras present! The accident has already taken place. The damage is already done.

Some politicians have even been so bold as to admit that the devices — which only fill the coffers of outside, private companies — do not generate the kind of financial return they may hope for. Excuse me? I thought the goal was to promote safety and prevent accidents? Shouldn’t you be glad that less people are running lights, thus providing less income for the city? No, the ‘safety’ mantra is just a thinly-veiled excuse aimed at duping the public into thinking these stunts are any more than another form of taxation.

Now, city officials are even going so far as to call out the judges who deem that turning right on red — a perfectly legal move in most states — does not constitute a violation. But don’t worry; these cities have plenty more ‘gotcha’ tactics up their sleazy sleeves.

If your entire vehicle has not passed through an intersection two seconds before the light turns red (yes, while it is still yellow!) you will be ticketed. If your vehicle’s tires are even a millimeter on or over the large white ‘stop bar’ at lights, you will be ticketed. If the vehicle in front of you makes a last-ditch move to speed through the yellow light, and you inch forward to fill the gap, you will be ticketed. It won’t be long before buckling your seat belt will be a fine-able offense! If the city had their way, they would ticket you for looking at a red light through the window of your own got-dang house!

Look, I’m all for promoting safety, and I certainly don’t want to get T-boned by some jackass driver who can’t see (or just doesn’t care) that the light is turning red. I would only (humbly) offer a better way.

How many times have you been driving on the highway when you see a solitary police car parked on the side of the road with the lights on? How many times have you noticed that car is empty? While there is no police presence, the perception forces a near-immediate modification in behavior. So, people slow down and say to themselves, “The cops are out today. Maybe I should be careful.” Even if it’s only for a moment, drivers will obey the law, for fear they may be pulled over.

I realize it’s impractical to suggest we have an empty cop car parked at every intersection in town, but consider this: most companies charge cities at least $5,000 a month for each camera installed. Couldn’t we find a cheaper, more effective solution?

by Peter P. Gaseoustania | Editor | Gaseoustania Tonight 


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