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Red Light Camera Use Declined In 2013 For the First Time 348

Posted by timothy
from the drones-are-the-replacement dept.
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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Red Light Camera Use Declined In 2013 For the First Time

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  • Politics as usual (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @11:54AM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @12:12PM (#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.

  • What's the answer? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @12:25PM (#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?

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @12:27PM (#45715101) Journal

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @12:28PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @12:48PM (#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.

  • by ProZachar (410739) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @12:54PM (#45715489) Homepage

    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:Politics as usual (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @12:58PM (#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.

  • Re:Politics as usual (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @01:17PM (#45715837)

    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.


    Says the 10 millionth person who's failed to actually look at the studies. Sorry, buddy, there's actual science that says you're wrong. What you have is a hypothesis. Guess what, it's an obvious one that's been tested and proven false over and over again.

    Guess what else the studies show, all else being equal, adding a RLC to an intersection increases the number of accidents and injuries. Now is the time to go educate yourself and, if you're intellectually honest, change your mind.

  • Re:Politics as usual (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tuidjy (321055) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @03:20PM (#45717431)

    The problem is that no one has interest in doing it right. As far as I am concerned, the camera-at-traffic-light was solved in the 90s, when I was at MIT. I worked on the project for a while, and I remember the problems that we faced (and solved). Even better, time has made every single one of them trivial, through better cameras, faster and cooler processing, and cheap reliable communication.

    So, here is how to make traffic cameras that work and save lives:

    1. Once yellow is displayed, monitor the speed of the first vehicle in each lane that should be stopping.
    2. Do not turn on the green (for any other lane) until every yellow (and later red) facing vehicle has initiated a deceleration that can bring to rest before the intersection.
    3. Start flashing the red early if you detect a car that appears to be going too fast to stop before entering the intersection, but too slow to to enter it before the red is scheduled to appear.
    4. Issue tickets to everyone entering the interception on red. As you don't delay the appearance of the red, this won't reduce the number of tickets.
    5. Send warnings to people who have delayed the green, but have still come to a stop, reminding them that emergency stops are wearing down their shocks, tires, and brakes.
    6. Send warnings to people who have crossed at flashing red, or speeding tickets if they did so by breaking the speed limit.

    Note that none of this makes the green come earlier, or the red come later. You can still use an underlying, tested, proven reliable system to ensure that the new-fanged system does not give green to the wrong people at the same time.

    This is going to save lives, and it was successfully testing in Boston last millennium. OK, so after a few weeks, the hardware went kaput, but that left the standard traffic light in place and there was no harm done. We lost interest. With today's tech, I could rebuild the system for one tenth of the price, and it would probably last a long longer.

How much net work could a network work, if a network could net work?