Red Light Cameras

Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 4:15 am Pacific USA Time.

Tucson recently installed some red light cameras. I hadn’t thought much of them until the day I pulled into an intersection to make my left turn on a yellow light, and watched a zillion flashes go off (in the daylight) when the light turned red. I remember that day, and was pissed off when the red light cameras all went off as I knew I had entered the intersection on yellow, committed to finishing that left turn, and got stuck with the light turning red while I was already out there.

I just got the ticket and letter. $280 for "failure to stop at a red light." Well, I didn’t stop at a red light because it was yellow. The ticket came with four pictures: my license plate, a close-up of my face (the "driver"), and two photos of my car in the intersection after the light was red.

It wasn’t looking good, and didn’t match my memory of the day.

Until I noticed something on the page of photos. There was a URL with a notice number and PIN. I could go to a website to see these pictures AND a video they have of the whole thing.

What? A video? Yep. This is new to me.

I watched the video in real time, and at first, it looked like I ran the red light. That still didn’t match my memory of the event. So I went frame by frame in the video, looking at fractions of seconds, and then I shouted out in triumph. There are frames of the video that show my car already in the intersection with the light still yellow. That matches my memory of the day. I entered the intersection on a yellow, and it soon turned red.

The FAQ web page for our police department says you will only get a red light camera ticket if you enter the intersection after the light is red. I think the fractions of a second made the machines think I entered after the yellow was gone, but my memory and some still frames tell the real story!

Well, I think I won this one. Thanks to Tucson for taking a video of the whole thing. It looks like the video starts when the light turns yellow, runs for the evidently 3 seconds the light stays yellow, and then records for a few more seconds when the light is red. I’ll be requesting a hearing for this ticket, and if this isn’t enough, I’ll also be entering into evidence the laws of physics. Based on how fast I was going in the left turn lane before hitting the intersection, and based on when the video shows me entering the intersection, I didn’t have enough time to hit the brakes and NOT end up in the intersection OR NOT end up with the guy behind me possibly rear-ending me.

Look out for the red light cameras. No mercy here! But at least with the video, there will be justice. :)

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Categories: Just An Observation

Comments Closed

One Response to “Red Light Cameras”

  1. alpan says:

    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. Can any of you who support Red Light Cameras honestly say that this is right?
    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 signal 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. If I had 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 they’re not even aware of.