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Transportation The Almighty Buck Hardware

Red-Light Camera Grace Period Goes From 0.1 To 0.3 Seconds, Chicago To Lose $17 Million (arstechnica.com) 258

The Chicago Department of Transportation announced a new policy earlier this week that will increase the "grace period" -- the time between when a traffic light turns red to when a ticket is automatically issued. The decision has been made to increase the time from 0.1 seconds to 0.3 seconds, following recommendations part of a recent study of its red-light cameras. Ars Technica reports: This will bring the Windy City in line with other American metropolises, including New York City and Philadelphia. In a statement, the city agency said that this increase would "maintain the safety benefits of the program while ensuring the program's fairness." On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that the city would lose $17 million in revenue this year alone as a result of the expanded grace period. Michael Claffey, a CDOT spokesman, confirmed that figure to Ars. "We want to emphasize that extending this enforcement threshold is not an invitation to drivers to try to beat the red light," CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld also said in the statement. "By accepting the recommendation of the academic team, we are giving the benefit of the doubt to well-intentioned drivers while remaining focused on the most reckless behaviors."
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Red-Light Camera Grace Period Goes From 0.1 To 0.3 Seconds, Chicago To Lose $17 Million

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  • Hey guys. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 24, 2017 @03:06AM (#54100805)

    Did you hear?
    Going faster through a red light means the camera won't get you!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 24, 2017 @03:27AM (#54100847)

    Seems like any fines going to the department that makes them fines is a conflict of interest. These things should clearly be decided by direct democracy, at least how the money is spent, and should not go to their budgets by default.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @03:53AM (#54100879)
      I've maintained that fines, tickets, and penalties (for traffic citations, violations of regulations, punitive damages from court cases, etc) should go into an escrow fund. On April 15 when everyone files their income taxes, divide the amount in the escrow fund by the number of tax returns filed (doubled for married filing jointly). That amount becomes a credit on each tax return. So basically all the money the government has collected as fines and penalties is distributed evenly to all taxpayers. That money was collected as compensation for crimes against society, and this way it gets distributed back to society.
      • by Kokuyo ( 549451 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @05:46AM (#54101083) Journal

        In Switzerland, the fines go into the municipality's budget.

        Problem with that is that the municipalities have started budgeting the fines and are now treating them like normal income and thus the police receives quota.

        Which leads to police putting mobile cameras where they can get most money not where there might be a security issue.

        It also led to police wasting a lot of time on fines rather than actually doing important things.

        I like the escrow idea.

        • The escrow idea really is very good. It's not supposed to be about money, after all. It's supposed to be about safety.

          The problem in Switzerland, as presumably elsewhere, is that many towns are serously broke. The cantons dictate somewhere around 90% of a town's expenditures (welfare, schools, etc..). The other 90% is pretty inflexible as well: you've got to maintain your roads, water supply, and so forth. The town I'm in, with around 5000 inhabitants, is in the red every year, and the debt is getting ridic

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @08:48AM (#54101641) Homepage

            easy solution, raise the taxes. if your taxes are not high enough to pay for Fire,Police and road maintenance then you should absolutely pay more.
            If your taxes are not being used for that but instead, holiday decorations, more pay for someone to choose to buy more decorations then it's time to start voting for officials more wisely.

            Yes, Yes, I know the irony of an American saying to vote more wisely to another country.... I'm not happy with our Toddler in Chief, but then he is not much different than the ones we have in congress and local government all over here. Recently in my home town we had one of the commissioners demand that a law be passed so that anyone in government can not be criticized or go to jail.

            It seems that we either elect very evil people, or stupid ones that have never read the constitution. From my experience, it's the latter, only the dumb want to be in political office.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 24, 2017 @09:41AM (#54101897)

              Surely the first step isn't to raise taxes? That's the sort of thing somebody who hadn't thought things through says. That's like saying "well, I don't have enough money to pay my bills, guess I need to make more money". No, the first thing you do is look where the money is going and see if any of it is being wasted on unnecessary things. And if none of it is being wasted on pointless things, then look at why the things that it's being spent on cost as much as they do, and see if any of it is being wasted within those organizations. If there isn't a large amount of waste, only then should you look at raising taxes.

              Why is it that there seems to be a large number of people who don't seem to care about waste? Like for example, the local schools where I live are constantly asking for more money. The local paper pulled up their staff list and found that there were 50% more administrators than school staff (administrators were considered people who weren't directly involved with students or the upkeep of the buildings). Surely you don't need more managers than employees? Raising taxes should be a last resort, not the first thing you jump to.

          • by fuzznutz ( 789413 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @09:42AM (#54101903)

            The escrow idea really is very good. It's not supposed to be about money, after all. It's supposed to be about safety.

            The lie that "it's only about safety" was disproven in Ohio. When the governor lost the first court battle with banning cameras, he proposed reducing state funding to cities who used cameras by the amount assessed in fines by the cameras. The immediate howling by the cities who obviously only cared about money was hilarious.

            But... But... But.. It's about safety, not money... You get to keep your safe streets, but you can't profit from it. Bastards. It was obvious to everyone that it was always about the money.

        • by thomn8r ( 635504 )

          In Switzerland, the fines go into the municipality's budget.

          Lots of places do that, including the US, and not just with traffic fines. I suspect that in some area, if you were to eliminate fines, the city/county would go bankrupt.

      • So basically all the money the government has collected as fines and penalties is distributed evenly to all taxpayers. That money was collected as compensation for crimes against society, and this way it gets distributed back to society.

        That's exactly how it works in other countries (e.g.: Switzerland).
        Fines don't go to the department (e.g.: to the police)
        Fines go to the public spending budget, so the country has more money to do things (in addition to the tax money), or more practically, gets less indebted to do the same things...

        • So basically all the money the government has collected as fines and penalties is distributed evenly to all taxpayers. That money was collected as compensation for crimes against society, and this way it gets distributed back to society.

          That's exactly how it works in other countries (e.g.: Switzerland).

          Notice what what Kokuyo says about Switzerland in a post above.

        • That's exactly how it works in other countries (e.g.: Switzerland).

          There is a difference between local and national governments. If local governments receive the money they then have a vested interest in making sure that crimes are committed within their boundaries. Hence they can create dodgy local laws which many people will inadvertently break. National governments can't really do this because they set the laws for the entire nation which makes it a lot harder to do dodgy things like this because more people are watching them. In addition with their far larger budgets

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I think you'll always have police groups lobbying for increased funding based on citation amounts generated, no matter where the money goes. If you put it into the general fund, they'll claim that increased spending on police budgets is net-zero budgeting because the spending is balanced by the citation payments. Even returned to the tax payer they will assume that the same amount as increased spending is offset by tax credits and not an additional tax burden.

        I think the only sane solution is that fines a

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          But then the police here think they need Tanks, M16A4 fully automatic weapons, drones, bombers, orbital strike platforms......

          When in reality, 90% of the police can barely handle a small caliber pistol safely, and they are so poorly trained they are not much better than a roaming gang of thugs.

      • So basically all the money the government has collected as fines and penalties is distributed evenly to all taxpayers. That money was collected as compensation for crimes against society, and this way it gets distributed back to society.

        Even your seventh-grade Social Studies teacher wouldn't buy that as having any chance of happening. An empiricist would say that you're being farmed for tax money to be distributed to political cronies for favor and power and that this recalibration is a response to simmer

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        In Belgium it can only be used for improving the road safety. That means e.g. adding a roundabout. It does NOT mean maintanance or other road works.
        Nothing done? Then the city does not get to keep the monies.

      • by Macdude ( 23507 )

        I like your idea of giving the fines to the people, I'd rather see fines eliminated, they unfairly punish lower income people -- $150 fine to a corporate lawyer is pocket change, to a fast food worker it means not being able to pay rent. Replace it with community service. Get caught speeding, do 10 hours community service. Get caught excessive speeding, do 25 hours community service.

        This has the bonus of costing the city / county / state money to supervise the community service and they will then direct the

        • I'd rather see fines eliminated, they unfairly punish lower income people -- $150 fine to a corporate lawyer is pocket change

          The point of fines is to be a painful deterrent---just not as painful as jail time.

          We should do what some European countries have done, which is to scale the fines based on income.

          E.g., Finland has a formula to estimate how much the offender has for a a day's worth of spending money, and fines are based on that amount. There are multipliers based on the severity of the offense.

          It sounds strange to hear about a $100K speeding ticket for a CEO, but do you expect a multi-millionaire or billionaire to notice an

  • "Lose" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fph il quozientatore ( 971015 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @03:48AM (#54100871)
    I hate when people use the word "lose" to mean "not anymore have the opportunity to gain as additional income (under certain additional conditions)". See also: "the machine that will utterly bankrupt the music industry" by Peter Sunde: https://boingboing.net/2015/12... [boingboing.net]
  • Why change the red light grace period? Red light is red light.

    If you want to reduce accidents, increase the yellow period. People who push the limits of an extended yellow don't deserve grace. All this is going to do is now make people more comfortable running a little bit of red.

    • All this is going to do is now make people more comfortable running a little bit of red.

      Right. People will adapt, and that's why it's unclear if there's going to be a change in revenue at all.

    • It is easy to lose sight of what the actual goal is here: to reduce the number of accidents. Fines or other punishment can have an effect, but only if it motivates drivers to drive more considerately. Something that is used in UK is the idea of adding penalty points to people's license - when you reach 12 points, you generally lose your license, and it does seem to work to some degree, altough there are those who don't care. For them there is the option of banning them from driving, after which you may go t

      • I'm not sure if it was ever implemented, but there was a proposal in the UK a few years back to the limit for newly qualified drivers 3 points. This limit would then be increased by one for each year that you didn't collect points, to a maximum of 12.
      • Why change the red light grace period? Red light is red light.

        If you want to reduce accidents, increase the yellow period. People who push the limits of an extended yellow don't deserve grace. All this is going to do is now make people more comfortable running a little bit of red.

        From the summary: "following recommendations part of a recent study of its red-light cameras. " https://www.documentcloud.org/... [documentcloud.org]

        or, short version here: https://www.cityofchicago.org/... [cityofchicago.org]

    • Why change the red light grace period? Red light is red light.

      Because red lights means get out of the intersection. The grace period should be a hell of a lot longer or the automatic ticketing should just be abolished.

      • The grace period is already fine. A red light means do not enter the intersection. (If you are already in the intersection, then yes, you should get out as quickly as reasonably possible.) A red light camera should only be triggered when a vehicle crosses the stop line after the light has turned red - that is the definition of "running a red light."

        The amber light is a signal that the light will soon be changing to red. When the light goes amber you are supposed to stop if reasonably possible. If it is not

        • right on red issues as well!

          There was a place where they removed the camera after lot's of people where stopping after the line as they need to stop after the line to be able to see if they can make a safe right on red.

    • Why change the red light grace period? Red light is red light.

      If you want to reduce accidents, increase the yellow period. People who push the limits of an extended yellow don't deserve grace. All this is going to do is now make people more comfortable running a little bit of red.

      When the end result is a net loss to revenue, perhaps we should look to understand why a change to a program centered around safety came about, if this is still about safety and reducing accidents.

      To validate my latter claim, I'd like to see the aggregate safety statistics since red-light camera inception. When main statistic that is peddled first is revenue, it tends to question the intent of the entire damn program. If this is truly about saving lives and preventing accidents, then prove it.

      And no, a r

    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

      Exactly. The whole purpose of "yellow light" is that it's a grace period.

      Unless... how short are the yellow lights in Chicago? Maybe they should be longer.

      • The yellow light is a grace period but the driver population is divided as to whether it means "you've got three seconds to stop before hitting red" of "you've got three seconds to accelerate before hitting red".

    • So you want people slamming on their brakes the instant they see yellow? Because that is what the lack of a grace period will result in. You can't know if a light is going to be extended yellow or not.

      And, if anything, drives will assume they are not since most cities reduce the yellows to get more fines.

  • since that money stays with the drivers. Just like Media companies claiming billions lost from file sharing when in reality that money was spent on different market sectors and the gov probably made more off corporate taxes since small businesses can't get the same tax loopholes.

    • Yes, but isn't it always better when the government is the one making the decisions on where to redistribute that money? Since they, in their infinite wisdom, always know best?

  • Just make the grace period something that's humanly perceptible, say one second. It'll have the same effect on traffic safety (since someone who doesn't intentionally run red lights won't care how long the grace period is), catch the egregious offenders, and reduce the amount of legal stuff surrounding the tickets (Much fewer discussions about the case if you can say "Hey, we gave you a grace period of one full second and you still got caught.").

    Leave the cases within the grace period to actual cops who n

    • It depends on how you arrange the lights. In the UK, there's a delay in between one set of lights going red and the next going green. In a number of US cities that I've visited, one set turns green at precisely the same instant that the other turns red. This means that going through the lights as they turn red is potentially very dangerous, because you will still be crossing the intersection while cars from other directions go. Adding a small delay, larger than the grace period, would likely improve saf

      • I mostly see lights with a delay where all are red very briefly, but it could be where I have lived in the US. What annoys me is that even with that there are often people entering the intersection when the other traffic's light turns green.

        I believe we should get much tougher with driving tests in the US. One thing I would add for states which get a lot of snow is some sort of testing in the ability to handle it. I'm not sure how to practically do this year round though - simulated snow course?

        I've nev

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @05:27AM (#54101033)

    The maybe best solution ever I've seen in Austria. Here [youtube.com] is a quick comparison between US vs. Austrian traffic lights.

    Basically, their lights flash green 5 times before they go to yellow, giving you ample time to know that the green period ends. Also, before switching to green, it shows red and yellow for about a second or two to give you an idea that you should put your car into gear and prepare to accelerate, thus improving the reaction time of people and improving the usage of the green phase.

    All in all, a WAY better solution. Of course their law also says that there is ZERO grace period for entering with a red light. You have ample time to know it's going red. Actually, I don't even know whether there isn't already some kind of provision that you're supposed to not enter when it goes yellow.

    • Why not just use the orange light and red light as intended? Orange means stop unless you need to break hard, and early red means get out of the intersection if you are still there. This idiocy about automatic tickets on red is the entire problem. It is like they don't understand hard traffic lights are supposed to work.

      • Nah we need warnings for our warning warnings.

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        Really?

        In the UK, red means DO NOT CROSS the line of the traffic light. If you're already past the line by the time it goes red, you're on your own (e.g. traffic jam in front but no yellow box forcing you to keep the junction clear and nothing moves for a whole phase) but it's not an offence.

        It's quite simple, with our rules. Yellow means "It's about to go red". Red means "You CANNOT cross that line" (and the line is physical - drawn on the ground).

        If you cross the line on red, you've broke the law, whet

        • by Imrik ( 148191 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @07:44AM (#54101403) Homepage

          So long as the yellow phase is a legally-safe period of time to come to a safe and controlled halt from the maximum speed of the road, everything else is moot.

          This is part of the problem in the US, once red light cameras are installed, municipalities often shorten the length of the yellow light to increase their income.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          [In Britain,] If you cross the line on red, you've broke the law, whether it was red for 0.1 seconds or 10 years (note: you can't even cross it if an emergency vehicle appears behind and you need to cross it to let them pass... it's AGAINST THE LAW to cross the line once the light is red).

          How is a motorist stopped at such an unresponsive signal expected to recover the use of his or her vehicle?

    • The maybe best solution ever I've seen in Austria. their lights flash green 5 times before they go to yellow

      So what's the purpose of the yellow light in this case?? When green switches to yellow you're supposed to stop if distance and speed allow, and pass otherwise. If the time allotted to yellow is to low, increase it!

    • The maybe best solution ever I've seen in Austria

      Another solution, in Japan: the traffic light may switch to red but cars keep going for 2-3 seconds.

    • A lot of intersections in Chicago have a count down timer for pedestrians which is a good indicator when yellow/red will kick in.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Basically, their lights flash green 5 times before they go to yellow, giving you ample time to know that the green period ends.

      A pre-yellow warning phase also causes motorists to increase speed inappropriately, which is why the United States has not adopted a pre-yellow vehicular phase [dot.gov].


  • ...that if I pass that white line before it turns red, really REALLY fast itll be OK.
  • It's 2017 and we're still trying to figure out how to not kill each other on the roads. For all our achievements we're still just stupid apes.
  • You are sent a ticket, that is a "civil" ticket...no points. You are considered GUILTY unless you can PROVE you are wrong. Tell me how that is constitutional?
  • "I wanted to beat the light" isn't. "I know yellow means I should only enter if I can't stop, but I did it anyway." isn't. If you're in the intersection when the light turns red, you ran it. Just because you can't get away with it anymore doesn't mean your intentions were good.
    • And if you are in a crappy Civic where you don't thing the breaks are good enough to stop in time. That is well intentioned, you would have stopped if you thought the car could do it.
  • If the problem is that drivers don't have enough time when driving the speed limit to safely slow to a stop when they see a yellow light, the solution is not to allow them some go-time when the light is red. The correct solution is to extend the length of time of the yellow light.
    Yellow light does not mean speed up so you don't get stuck at a red light. Yellow light is an instruction to come to a steady stop before the intersection if speed and distance allow. This requires a light to be yellow for the ap
  • Chicago has reason to rejoice, as it was found that by trimming the red light duration from 1.7 to 1.3 seconds it will lose only 17 million and not $29M as originally estimated.

    Camera shutters will not be altered in any way, saving even more of the city's budget on any unnecessary upgrades.

  • by umafuckit ( 2980809 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @10:14AM (#54102159)
    I remember a red-light camera in Queens where the amber was unusually short, about half as long as normal, so it would turn red when you didn't expect it to and you ended up with a ticket.
  • still bullshit (Score:4, Informative)

    by jsepeta ( 412566 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @10:44AM (#54102389) Homepage

    Problem is, the way traffic flows in chicago, left turning motorists often are in the middle of the street when the light changes, and can only complete their turn once the light has turned red and the ticket has been issued.

  • I can't wait until self-driving cars become the norm and totally screw these local governments out of these sources of "revenue".

  • "Chicago to Lose $17 Million" Hogwash. Chicago will keep that $17 Million. The *real* Chicago, not the city government.

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