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Los Angeles To Turn Off Traffic-Light Cameras 367

Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that the Los Angeles Police Commission has voted to kill the city's controversial red-light camera program, rejecting claims that the system makes streets safer while costing the city nothing. The police department says the cameras help reduce accidents, largely by deterring drivers looking to run red lights or make illegal turns while critics of the technology question officials' accident data, saying the cameras instead cause rear-end collisions as drivers slam on their brakes and liken the cameras to Big Brother tactics designed to generate revenues. More than 180,000 motorists have received camera-issued tickets since the program started in 2004 but the commission estimates that the program costs between $4 million and $5 million each year while bringing in only about $3.5 million annually. Members of the public who attended the meeting urged the commission to do away with the cameras, which trigger seemingly boundless frustration and anger among drivers in traffic-obsessed LA. 'It's something that angers me every time I get in my car,' says Hollywood resident Christina Heller. 'These cameras remove our fundamental right in this country to confront our accuser. And they do not do anything to improve safety.'"
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Los Angeles To Turn Off Traffic-Light Cameras

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  • Traffic Light Safety (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday June 10, 2011 @08:29AM (#36398820)

    I always thought a good idea would be to put a yellow line in the road before a traffic light to indicate that if you are travelling the speed limit and are beyond this line and the light turns yellow you can safely make it through the light. If you have not passed the line than you should stop for the light.

  • Makes Sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WankersRevenge ( 452399 ) on Friday June 10, 2011 @08:32AM (#36398840)

    I moved to Los Angeles in the late nineties and left before these traffic cameras were operational. When I first arrived, I noticed that people would collectively pause at a green light. It would be a one or two second delay which completely baffled me. In New England, we'd jump the greens like a drag race.

    The answer came rather fast. In a lot of the intersections, there were no green arrows so in some places the only way for people to get across the street was to run a red light. And not just one person would run the light, but four or five. It was crazy but in time, it made complete sense to me and soon I internalized it. So I can imagine the outrage if there were now cameras placed at intersections. It's like paying a toll to cross the street. Maybe things have changed since then, but it seemed pure insanity not to have green arrows considering the amount of people in the area.

  • by cowboy76Spain ( 815442 ) on Friday June 10, 2011 @08:58AM (#36399052)

    1. Its not a picture of you. Its a picture of a car and its license plate.

    I do not know of USA, but here if the driver cannot be identified then the owner is legally responsible of the fines. Of course, if he can prove that someone else was the driver it then gets passed to the driver. Apart from theft, it is pretty sure to say that the owner knows who was driving the car and can discuss the matter with him.

    2. The plate is read with OCR, sometimes its wrong.

    I am pretty sure you can ask for the picture to check it yourself and correct the OCR. It would be better if the fines were served with a printout of the picture attached to it, to simplify things (I do not know if this is done or not).

    3. How do you know the camera is set up correctly? How do you know the timing is correct?

    The only thing that should really matter if is the camera is only triggered while the light is red (v.g., by the cable that powers the red light runs through the camera and activates it). Way better if the camera is set so you see in the picture both the car and the red light.

    About the settings, I think these cameras must be networked. And if not, when the crew in charge of downloading the pics come, they must check that evertything is ok. Anyway, if the camera date/time is incorrectly set, it can only benefit you ("but your honour, if the date/time is not set correctly I can not verify this proof so it must be invalidated").

    4. How about extenuating circumstances. In DC, I moved out of the way of an ambulance, into the intersection. That triggered the red light camera. Then I was blocking traffic, so the safest thing to do was continue with an illegal right on red. I got 2 tickets. The camera could not testify to any of this happening, where a cop would have been able to.

    I agree with that, a limitation of automatic systems is that they do what they are programmed to do, without any common sense. For your case it might have been possible to ask for the previous pictures from the camera to check your story, but even winning that would mean a lot more work than explaining to a cop (provided that the cop had not seen it himself).

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor