Times Dismisses Red Light Cameras as Revenue Generation Ploy

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Image from Red Light Camera in Tempe, AZ

Yesterday the Times’ continued its crusade against traffic tickets when it took aim at red light cameras.  According to the Times, red light cameras are primarily about raising revenue for the city, not making roads safer.  The proof?  80% of tickets given out by machines are for right turn violations which the Times deems are “a less pressing safety concern.”

Less pressing for whom?  When the Federal Highway Administration discusses the conflict between pedestrians and automobiles it ranks “right on red” as the top concern.  A look at crash fatality statistics nationwide shows that in Los Angeles, almost one quarter of all crash fatalities are pedestrians.

To buffer it’s statement that right on red violations aren’t a concern, the Times tells the story of a woman who fought a red light ticket, believing that not coming to a complete stop before making a right on red, wasn’t illegal.  Instead of being shocked that this woman has a complete lack of understanding of basic traffic laws, the Times repeats it’s claim that red light violations just aren’t a big deal (emphasis mine).

But it is the right-turn infraction — a frequently misunderstood and less pressing safety concern — that drives tickets and revenue in the nation’s second-biggest city and at least half a dozen others across the county.

What follows next is a back and forth between engineers and other experts about the effectiveness or red light cameras in reducing cars crashing into pedestrians.  This conversation is of course devoid of any statistics relating to how dangerous Los Angeles streets are to pedestrians.

The story ends by telling the story of another victim who got traffic tickets for breaking the law yet feels he doesn’t deserve them.

Motorists often are confused and complain about right-turn photo tickets, police say. John Jasso, a Pasadena technology manager, said he didn’t fully get the complete-stop rule until two right-turn photo tickets came in the mail a week apart.

One was before sunrise on a Saturday morning. The streets were largely deserted, he recalled, as he braked and rounded a corner heading to the Montebello golf course.

The second ticket, before the first arrived in the mail, involved another early trip to a golf course, he said.

"I was like, ‘They’ve got to be kidding me.’ Especially at 6 in the morning," he said. The first ticket cost him $381; the second was dismissed because of a paperwork error, he said.

Jasso thinks focusing cameras on right turns is mostly about generating cash.

But he admits it changed how he approaches signalized corners.

"Now I stop every single time," he said. "No matter what time of day or night."

Imagine that.

Photo: Alderbooks.com 

  • I thought that a lot pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and injuries occur at intersections as a result of right or left turning cars. The Times article really seems like it had to stretch to make it seem like car drivers were getting hosed for “minor” infractions of the law.

    A lot of people die, or are injured, because of unsafe car turns at intersections.

  • alpan

    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 to 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 the 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 the public needs to be made aware of..