Speed cameras? Yes, please

It’s Wednesday confession day so allow me to unburden my tortured soul. I’d put red light cameras at every traffic light in Minnesota.

I don’t care if the person driving isn’t the person who gets the ticket. I’ve seen too many close calls with people who just had to get to the next red light 30 seconds sooner, risking death and injury to everyone else on the road.

The same goes for speed traps. I’d run one on Interstate 94 in the east metro all day and night and I’d use the newfangled cameras for them too.

Neither of those will ever happen in Minnesota, of course, because when the cameras were installed a few years ago, so many people were caught running lights that politicians had little choice but to remove them.

Rhode Island authorities are learning the lesson too.

When speed cameras were installed in Providence school zones a few weeks ago, speeders were stopped at the rate of 27 times more often than what the police across the border in Massachusetts were doing. That’s a feature, not a bug.

Monday was the first day the 12,000 speeders — I say again: 12,000 — had the chance to contest their fines in court.

It was a nightmare, the Boston Globe says.

The evening judge, looking out at 1,500 people scheduled to have their cases heard, announced he didn’t want to hear any explanations — pay the fine or go to trial at a later date. His goal was to get everyone home by 2 a.m.

“We should start a revolution,” one man in the courthouse lobby shouted.

Or you could just slow the heck down, sir.

“These are all working people,” said Peter Basiliere, a teacher at local Roger Williams Middle School. “These are people that can’t afford $95.”

Or you could just slow the heck down, sir.

“This shouldn’t be a trap to get people that didn’t know about it to pay,” Councilwoman Sabina Matos tells the Providence Journal. “We have to make sure we are solving a problem and not creating a problem.”

If only there were a sign that could be erected to tell people what the speed limit is, maybe even bright yellow ones that say something like “school zone, speed limit 20 mph.” That would help, right?

Matos said some people opened their mailboxes last week and found three or four tickets. If people can’t pay for the tickets they may not be able to register their cars or renew their licenses, she said.

Again, a feature, not a bug.

Providence’s Council president doesn’t think the cameras, which only capture people going 11 mph over the speed limit, are going anywhere.

The number of tickets issued speaks for itself, he said.

Here’s betting they’ll all be removed by summer, some pedestrian will be killed by a speeding driver, and the citizens of Providence will wonder why authorities never do anything about the problem.

  • MrE85

    We’re a nation based on rule of law, Until we caught breaking the law, of course. Then we’re the nation of It’s Not My Fault.

    • QuietBlue

      But laws apply to the government too. That’s why Minnesota removed them, that’s why Chicago is on the hook for a $38 million settlement due to a class action lawsuit, and that’s why other jurisdictions are having difficulty with these programs.

    • Postal Customer

      It’s all just so simple isn’t it . . .

  • Kassie

    Minnesota removed them not because so many were caught, but because the courts ruled they couldn’t be used.

  • BReynolds33

    I believe in Minnesota the reason this can’t / won’t happen is it violates our state Constitution. So we would need to change that, first.

    • DavidG

      I vaguely remember there being an issue with the category of offense, I don’t recall if it was exactly civil vs criminal, but something of the sort.

      And I vaguely recall there being an option to reclassify a moving violation to something along the lines of a parking ticket. Parking tickets are constitutional, and it doesn’t matter who was responsible for parking the car at the time of the ticket was issued.

      • Kassie

        Another bill came up after the courts shot it down that would have a police officer review all the video to determine if the person driving could be identified and ticketed, but the legislature chose not to pass it.

        I don’t know the legal difference between a parking and speeding ticket, but insurance companies don’t care about parking tickets but they do care about speeding tickets.

    • Laurie K.

      Correct. The City of Minneapolis attempted to shift the burden of guilt away from the city and onto the registered owner of the vehicle. The ordinance was also in conflict with the Minnesota statute which specifically requires that drivers must obey traffic regulations. Minneapolis attempted to make owners criminally responsible by presuming that as the registered owner, you were the driver. The ordinance then shifted the burden of proof onto the registered owners to show that they were NOT the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offense.

  • Rob

    Awesome post, Bob C. And as you intimated, life is cheap, so we won’t be doing the red light or school speed zone cameras in Minnesota any time soon.

  • Erick

    I never used to try to get through on a yellow until I got rear ended. Sadly, if you follow the speed limit or stop when you are supposed to you put yourself at risk. I look forward to self driving cars that will have to follow Asimov’s three laws.

  • jon

    Put me in the no thank you category on this one…

    I’ve read about and heard about the abuses from speeding camera and red light cameras… ones that aren’t working right, but are still allowed to issue tickets, tickets that are thrown out the instant they go to court, but the municipalities hope people will pay the tickets just to avoid going to court.

    I don’t want to have to spend my weekend building a case for why the speed trap system didn’t capture the speed accurately, or taking time off work to tell a judge that right turns on red are legal and are not something to be ticketed for…

    If I could be told the red light cameras wouldn’t be abused… that they wouldn’t be used solely as a source of income for the cities/counties/states installing them then perhaps… but I’ve seen and heard of far to many abuses to assume that would be the case.

    I’m not opposed to making the streets safer, I am opposed to government abuse, and these systems seem to be inexplicably linked to abuse from contracts with the vendors of these systems setting up contracts with the municipalities to take a percentage of the cut from the revenue generated by these systems….
    I’d love the increased safety without the corruption, but I’m not sure the two can be separated at this point.

    • // but I’ve seen and heard of far to many abuse

      Not that interested in abuses you’ve heard about but I’m willing to be persuaded by the ones you’ve seen.

      I’ve seen people running red lights.

      • Mike

        Increased enforcement of speed limits by actual cops might accomplish the same goal (less speeding overall) without the constitutional issues attached to cameras. As a Minneapolis resident, I don’t know when I ever saw a city cop pull someone over for speeding, even though some drivers go 50 mph (or more) on 30 mph city streets.

      • jon

        How would I see something that doesn’t happen in this state, and I wouldn’t see it happening to another person because it all happens via mail?

        I’ve friends in chicago who were tagged by red light cams because they made a legal right turn on red. That’s the best you are going to be able to get as for me having “Seen” them.

        But you knew I couldn’t see these abuses… but keeping them out of the view of the public is exactly what allows them to thrive… and you knew that too….

    • QuietBlue

      Indeed, it’s viewed as an issue of enforcement when it should be considered one of engineering, at least in the long run. There are ways to design streets and intersections to prevent speeding and running red lights (such as roundabouts/traffic circles, to give one example).

      • jon

        People will find a way to speed through (straight through?) roundabouts…

        https://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2017/11/how-not-to-use-a-roundabout/

        😉

        • QuietBlue

          Well, yeah, nothing will ever 100% eliminate it. But it can be made a lot less likely.

      • Joe

        I agree with this 100%. We design streets to be “accident-proof”, which makes it very safe to speed. They are extra wide, with all impediments nearby removed.

        Contrast this to England, with skinny streets lined with stone walls. Very few people there speed (because it’d actually be dangerous to do so), and they have vastly fewer deaths per driver.

        If we design roads so that people have to pay attention, we’d all be better off.

        • Rob

          Que? I’m not aware of any accident-proof street designs.

          • Joe

            Extra wide lanes, buffer zones, medians, large turning radii, etc. are all done in the name of safety, but also encourage speeding.

          • Rob

            Agreed. Nothing accident-proof here, though.

  • Laurie K.

    I would be in the no thank you category as well. By shifting the burden of guilt from the State to the registered owner you are depriving the accused of the presumption of innocence and due process. If you allow the abolishment of legal standards of proof and foundation in one instance, you’ve put the judicial system on notice that there are exceptions to even fundamental constitutional rights.

    • But there ARE exceptions to even fundamental constitutional rights.

      • Laurie K.

        And so we should allow even more?

        • I don’t think it precludes examination of the rights of the many vs. the rights of the few, no. But, as i said, the constitutional questions were addressed in the bill before the legislature and it never made it out of committee because, freedom and everything. Like that trucker had in Stillwater, I guess, because that’s the same stuff the opponents of restrictions on use of phones hollered to kill legislation.

          • Kellpa07

            Do you think the trucker in Stillwater did not violate the law (assuming allegations are true)?
            I believe he is charged already.

          • Laurie K.

            The proposed legislation still held registered owners responsible:

            Section 3. Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 169.06, is amended by adding a subdivision to read:
            Subd. 4a. Violation; penalty for owner or lessee. (a) If a motor vehicle is operated in
            violation of subdivision 4 and the violation is detected through the use of an automated
            traffic law enforcement system, the owner of the vehicle or the lessee of the vehicle is guilty
            of a petty misdemeanor. [H.F. No. 1058, 1st Engrossment – 85th Legislative Session (2007-2008) Posted on Mar 21,
            2007]

            The proposed legislation still shifted the burden to the accused. The hope was that it would be less of burden by having photographs of both the driver and the license plate – however, again, it puts the burden on the owner to prove they are not the driver despite an officer’s review.

            Additionally, the proposed legislation provided no information with regard to privacy concerns and data retention and also did not call for transparency with regard to the revenue it would potentially generate. Would it go into the individual city’s coffers to be used as city officials desired or would it go towards public safety?

            There was a lot wrong and/or missing in that proposed legislation.

      • Kellpa07

        Those exceptions must be narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest to outweigh fundamental rights. The flimsy evidence in support of these tools of the surveillance state isn’t anywhere close to that.

  • Bill LIndeke

    Thanks Bob. This would save a lot of lives and cost the taxpayers next to nothing. People don’t like this idea for the simple reason that it actually works.

    • Kassie

      Going into suspected drug dealers’ houses and ransacking them without a warrant also probably works, but it is against the constitution. That’s why I’m against it, it has been found unconstitutional in Minnesota.

      • Bill LIndeke

        Great analogy.

        • Worth noting that the Legislature had the opportunity to address the constitutional questions in a pretty specific manner… by using license plates AND photos of the driver. It was voted down in committee.

          At the end of the day, the problem wasn’t the constitutionality; it was that people don’t want to be caught.

      • If you go in without a warrant, you probably have no probable cause.

        If you get caught by a red light camera, it’s probably because the light was red and you didn’t stop for it.

        • Laurie K.

          Or SOMEONE did not stop for it…

          • Rob

            Unless your car was stolen, it was driven by someone you authorized.

          • Laurie K.

            So that now makes me criminally responsible for their driving conduct?

          • Nicholas Kraemer

            This isn’t an insurmountable problem. Would you be for cameras if you go could automatically get out of a ticket by providing a statement saying you were not driving and providing the name and address of the person who was? What if the ticket had a prepaid return postcard?

          • Laurie K.

            No. Again, the State is supposed to carry the burden, but by making me prove to you that I was not driving by incriminating someone else, you are shifting the burden.

          • Rob

            Not sure how the state’s presumption that you were driving your own car makes this a major civil liberties issue.

          • Laurie K.

            Due process: “fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen’s entitlement.” One of my entitlements as an American citizen is the presumption of innocence. By shifting the burden of proof – you are taking away my presumption of innocence. I feel like you have made up your mind that I am wrong and that this discussion probably just needs to end where you walk away with your opinion and I with mine.

          • Rob

            Fair treatment: Your car is photographed running a red light. You weren’t driving, but had lent it to a friend. The not unreasonable presumption by the state is that you were driving your car, so it sends you a ticket. You contact the friend you loaned the car to and say, “WTF?” You and your friend go to court, give the court the 411, and your friend pays the fine. The state’s presumption is totally reasonable, but you have the opportunity to rebut it, you avail yourself of the opportunity, and all is well. This sounds like fair treatment through the judicial system to me, but your mileage may vary.

          • Laurie K.

            Thanks for respecting my request to agree to disagree. Also, you saying the same thing over and over is not going to change my mind. I KNOW what due process is – and what you are describing, is not due process.

          • Kellpa07

            If only we give the government just a little more power, they’ll make things better. After all, it’s only a minor civil rights issue. The government would never over reach. Never.

          • Rob

            Yup. If you don’t want to be the subject of a camera-caught red light or speeding violation ticket, don’t loan your car to crappy drivers.

          • Laurie K.

            So, let’s just do away with all constitutional rights and due process. The ends justify the means, right?

          • Rob

            Your due process rights are fine. You show the court that it was your putz friend driving your car who ran the light, not you. It’s an inconvenience, but public safety trumps your inconvenience.

          • Laurie K.

            What part of the burden of guilt being shifted onto me as an owner protects my due process rights?

          • Rob

            Nope. When you go to court accompanied by the wonderful friend or relative whom you had authorized to drive your car, the ticket is, upon the friend or relative’s admission, rightfully charged against them. Pro tip: Don’t lend your car to crappy drivers, and you’ll never suffer the inconvenience of having to go to court to get out of a ticket for a moving violation that you didn’t commit.

        • Kassie

          You have never lived in a neighborhood with lots of drug traffic, I’d guess. Everyone knows where the drug houses are, it is just tough to prove it and get a warrant. If they didn’t need a warrant, you don’t think the police would happily bust down doors? Of course they would.

          The whole idea that it is ok to take away civil liberties because you have nothing to hide if you follow the law is not compelling to me. Even if I didn’t stop at the stop sign, the burden of proof is on the State to show it was me who didn’t stop. “You have nothing to worry about if you follow the law” is just as much BS here as it is when talking about warrant-less searches, random pat downs by police and warrant-less wiretaps.

          • QuietBlue

            It’s always interesting to see what particular issues make people want to throw civil liberties out the window. Lots of people are authoritarians at heart, I guess.

          • Joe

            Being allowed to kill people with my vehicle isn’t the civil liberties hill I’m willing to die on.

          • QuietBlue

            Good thing nobody is proposing abolishing speed limits or stoplight laws, then.

      • Joe

        This has no losers though. It’s not like spitting/lurking laws, which are disproportionately used against the disadvantaged. This is just a camera measuring if you are endangering the lives of all around you. If you are (or someone who you loaned your car to), then you pay $95.

        They aren’t “ransacking” anything. It’s just a small way to save many lives.

        • QuietBlue

          Depending on how they are deployed, they absolutely could have a disparate impact on the disadvantaged. Just like lots of other laws that have selective enforcement.

          • There’s a guaranteed way for them not to.

          • Laurie K.

            Really, what would that be? An officer, with implicit bias reviews the license plates, the photo of the driver and the driver’s license photo. Do you honestly think that in making a subjective decision as to whether the DL photo matches the photo of the driver that race will never be a factor?

          • Kellpa07

            I think he means putting them in every light controlled intersection. That proposal ignores the study stating that putting them at intersections that have few accidents increases the accidents, but at least we’ll be doing something, right? Almost seems like whether these things actually work isn’t the point.

          • Laurie K.

            Still, even with putting them in every light controlled intersection, the ultimate protection is supposed to be an officer reviewing to make sure that the driver’s photo matches the driver’s license photo. We already have many examples of selective prosecution based on an officer’s implicit bias of certain races – why would we believe it would be any different with this procedure?

          • The study didn’t conclude that. First, your ’14 study was only in Chicago and it found that it reduced T-bone crashes by 15 percent at the intersections study, while rear -enders went up 22 percent.

            Meanwhile, the ’17 study of suburbs found there has been a reduction in accidents with people running red lights although it couldn’t prove that cameras were to credit.

          • Kellpa07

            The study in the Tribune article of course discussed primarily the Chicago cameras. It referred to an FHA study showing much the same thing:

            “The results of the Tribune study closely track those of a 2005 analysis of red light cameras commissioned by the Federal Highway Administration that used identical scientific methods to analyze 132 intersections in seven cities throughout the country. That study found a 16 percent decrease in right-angle injury crashes and a corresponding 24 percent increase in rear-end injury crashes.”

            “When intersections experiencing fewer than 4 injury crashes per year are considered, there is a significant increase in all crashes by 19 percent after the installation of RLCs,” the study found.

            “They are not doing what you would expect,” Geedipally said. “You can make an argument based on those two numbers, over four (injury crashes) you see a benefit but less than four you don’t see that benefit. ”

            http://www.chicagotribune.com/ct-red-light-camera-safety-met-20141219-story.html#page=1

            Before enacting a policy like you suggest – cameras at every traffic light intersection – I’d want some relatively solid evidence that it would help. At the very least, I’d want to be damn sure it wouldn’t make things worse.

          • I’ll take a rear ender over a T-bone any day.

          • Kellpa07

            I would guess that most people would, although rear-end accidents can be fatal or cause serious injury.
            That’s not the trade off, however. The trade off is MORE injury accident. so a proponent of these cameras would have to accept not just an increase likelihood of a rear end accident for him/herself, but for people who otherwise would not have been involved in an accident.
            Perhaps there would be fewer deaths with fewer T-Bone collisions. The study doesn’t say that. Perhaps there would be fewer serious injuries with fewer T-Bone collisions. The study doesn’t say that either. The study does say putting the cameras at every intersection has a poor outcome at intersections that previously had few collisions.
            At the very least, it should be clear these are no panacea. People need to drive attentively, carefully and soberly. Without that, even a cop on every corner won’t help.

        • Kassie

          But there are losers. Everyone who has the burden of proof shifted from the State to them are losers. I lose when my fellow citizen’s rights are taken away. I lose when I have to go through a red light to make way for an emergency vehicle and get a $95 fine that I would not have gotten otherwise. I lose when I have to take time off work to fight that ticket, at a cost of my hourly wage.

          • Joe

            There are also lots of losers when people die at the rate they do from automobiles. We’re up to nearly 4 million dead from cars.

          • Kassie

            I agree something should be done. I don’t agree that taking away civil liberties is the way to do it. I’m 100% behind protected bike lanes, no tolerance policies for drunk driving, stiffer penalties for use of phones while driving, increased public transit and lowering speed limits. What I’m not ok with is giving tickets for speeding based solely on the license plate on a car not considering circumstance and who was actually driving.

      • Joe

        Further, if your stance is that once a court rules against something, we should never raise the issue again, we would never have made progress on many important issues (suffrage, civil rights, etc.).

      • Rob

        Not sure what a violation of privacy rights has to do with red light cameras at public intersections

  • Chris Hatch

    I still don’t understand how Mpls couldn’t use these red light cameras bc you couldn’t confirm the identity of the driver, but you can get a parking ticket that can turn into a warrant if unpaid. Can you confirm I parked my car at that meter and not my friend?

    Something desperately needs to be done about running red lights and speeding though. I am often scared for myself and my child when crossing the street downtown and in my own neighborhood.

  • MikeB

    No to speed cameras.

    Yes to significant penalties of driving infractions which would be a more effective deterrent. We’ve read several NewsCut posts that negligent drivers are not really punished, even if they take a life. People should lose their licenses for severe violations and repeat violations.

  • Kellpa07

    The Chicago Tribune did a study on this a few years ago. They did find a reduction in “angle crashes,” but that was accompanied by a larger increase in rear end crashes involving injury. If it doesn’t matter to you whether the person who commits the crime is punished for the crime, maybe it also doesn’t matter that over 10,000 of the citations were erroneous, but I find that troubling. Great opportunity for corruption, tough, just ask John Bills who took around $2 million from the company that first sold red light cameras to Chicago.
    No thanks. I’d prefer to keep my civil liberties. If you are willing to dispense with yours, perhaps it would make sense to first be sure that they save lives, rather than cost them. That is not at all clear.

    • STPCommuter

      How on Earth would this technology, even if it’s considered an imposition upon civil liberties, cost lives rather than save them? 40,000 people die in car crashes every year, and research has shown that people (pedestrians) are much more likely to survive a 30 mph impact than a 40 mph impact. In fact, if anything, this doesn’t go far enough to save lives, since it’d make sense (based on pedestrian chances for survival) for the technology to issue tickets for anyone going above a 30 mph limit.

      • Kellpa07

        The study discussed in the article I linked has some explanation. More rear end accidents, plus add increase in accidents where there had previously been few.

        That damn law of unintended consequences!

    • Actually what the Tribune found was that accidents increased at only one-fourth of the locations that could be studied.

      But it found more. I quote:

      “Over the past decade, for all of suburban Chicago, there have been fewer serious crashes caused by red light runners, according to a Tribune analysis of state crash data.

      But it’s unclear whether cameras should get the credit.”

      • Kellpa07

        A link would be helpful
        http://www.chicagotribune.com/ct-red-light-camera-safety-met-20141219-story.html#page=1

        The article is titled Study: Red light cameras provide few safety benefits.

        Quote: “”The biggest takeaway is that overall (the program) seems to have had little effect,” said Dominique Lord, an associate professor at Texas A&M University’s Zachry Department of Civil Engineering who led the Tribune’s study.”

        Of course nothing is certain, but the study certainly suggests that your idea of putting red light cameras at every ref light intersection, including those with few crashes, does more harm than good. Maybe they work, maybe not, but I’m definitely less eager than you to give up my civil liberties based on the science, which seems to lean against their utility.

        My own thinking is that a 2 second increase between the time the yellow for one direction of travel ends and the green for the other direction begins would be very helpful. That would require some study, but it’s worth looking into.

        • bjnord

          Colorado Springs tried that yellow/red increased time while I lived there, specifically to try to reduce red-light-running crashes. From my observation, all that did was cause “inflation” — people knew there was extra time, and 1-3 cars would run the red (especially red left-turn arrows) taking advantage of the extra time, knowing the other direction wouldn’t have their green yet. It became part of the driving culture. Yes, they could be pulled over, but the cops can’t be everywhere all the time.

          I agree with you about following the science on red-light cameras, and there are problems with them (liberties, corruption, etc.). But I don’t think adding time to the light cycle will solve the problem either.

  • Thanks, Bob. Agreed.

  • AmiSchwab

    or you could just slow the heck down sir/maam.
    speed limits are for the most part there for a reason.
    no pity here

  • krisbrowne42

    I am *so* on board with this… I drive the speed limit, and get raged at daily. I make full stops before making a turn-on-red, and routinely get honked at as if I should’ve just rolled through. I make full stops at signs, and watch people roll through with barely a brake-tap where I’d have been if I hadn’t paused before starting through.

    I want cameras. I want better enforcement. I want speed traps and nasty enough fines to get people to rethink their decisions. Give 1, and no more than 1, warning recorded on the books, and at 3 stops revoke a license and force the driver to retake drivers ed.

    • Art

      Good for you. I applaud those that take traffic statutes to the level you describe. And I have no problem sharing the roadways with you. Provided…. for fast lane/slow lane highways and freeways, you camp in the Right lane. MN’s Highway Patrol will be the first to tell you about traffic flow and the importance of slower traffic staying to the Right. Left Lane Statute: if the car behind you is traveling faster than you, you move to the Right Lane. You can be doing 80 in a 60, you still move right.
      I learned the hard way. 75 in a 65 at night, only car for miles, in the left lane. A pair of headlights approach from behind and ride my back bumper. I’m good. I’m 10 over. Not moving. After 4 minutes of his tailgating, the trooper (to my surprise) flips on his lights. Before he reached my window, he was already screaming “Why didn’t you move over?!!!” After a 10 minute lecture on the Move-To-The-Right statute, he returned to his patrol car. He couldn’t care less about my 10-over speed. Remember, stay Right and we’re all good.

      • krisbrowne42

        I’d love to see that conversation in court… A good judge would be asking the trooper what code he was running if he was driving over the limit (Officers are only permitted to drive outside of the laws if they’re responding to an emergency, with sirens and lights). There’s one of the problems across the board – people who think they’re above the law.

        That being said – I will only drive in the left lane if I have a left exit coming up in 2-3 miles… I’d move over closer, but there’ve been too many times that all the speeders in that lane won’t let me merge over.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    There are some intersections where this is worthwhile. I work near one of them, Broadway and Johnson in NE Minneapolis. I was on Johnson a couple of weeks ago waiting to make a left turn onto Broadway. The oncoming side of the street had some cars going straight so I was waiting to turn. The first person had started into the intersection a few seconds after the light tuned green for us. A small pickup truck that was not visible from my vantage point when the light turned came flying through the intersection. Fortunately for all in the area the car attempting to cross Broadway to go North on Johnson noticed the pickup and stop allowing him to fly through the intersection. I consider myself fortunate that no accident occurred because I might have been collateral damage as the t-boned truck was pushed into me. We see a lot of accidents on this corner and most involve speed and trying to push a red light.

    • I have seen numerous accidents at that very intersection.

      • Jack

        Very scary intersection. The 88 and Broadway intersection a block away also sees a fair amount of accidents for probably the same reason.

        Seriously people – so you lose a little time in the drive, you won’t lose your life or someone else’s.

  • Jeff

    Every time I hear someone talk about the future of autonomous vehicles I can’t help but think that the biggest hurdle driverless vehicles will face is that they’ll go the speed limit and people just won’t accept that.

    • Jeff C.

      Another fear – autonomous cars won’t run red lights; pedestrians will get used to cars not running red lights and will stop looking so carefully for red-light-runners when the cross the streets; more pedestrians will get hit when crossing the streets because cars driven by people will still run red lights and will hit unobservant pedestrians.

      • Joseph

        Pedestrians are pretty unobservant already — and with smartphones, its gotten even worse. I don’t think most pedestrians would even need to “get used to” not looking both ways — very few already do.

        • Kellpa07

          Pedestrians with smartphones gritting hit by drivers with smartphones. Not the future I was promised!

    • Postal Customer

      Of course they’ll accept it. The traffic will be better when we have driverless cars because humans won’t be doing the driving anymore. you’ll still get to work faster even going the speed limit.

  • Tyler

    I triggered one of these at night in Phoenix. That particular model used a strobe flash. It was intense enough to ruin my night vision and I had to have a passenger take the wheel.

    I never paid the fine, either. Unenforceable across state lines.

    • Rob

      Good to know you skipped on the fine

  • Frank

    Now, every man, or woman driving at 54.5 mph in the passing lane, a melee of traffic stacked up behind and jockeying to get around him/her shall be named “Bob”.

  • Question: since everyone has to provide proof of insurance when renewing their license tabs, what if evidence from speed cameras and/or red light cameras was used to notify the insurance companies to take whatever action they see fit? If someone’s policy turned out to not be valid, then they could be charged for driving without valid insurance.

  • 212944

    Keep in mind that Bob – like me – lives in Woodbury.

    As lax as traffic enforcement is elsewhere in the Twin Cities (and I drive daily through Minneapolis and St. Paul, plus other eastern and southern ‘burbs), the lack of enforcement by Woodbury PD is stunning. It is not even really a lack of enforcement – to enforce, they would need to be present. They are not.

    Perhaps that may be informing Bob’s view on this a bit.

  • Postal Customer

    You have one post today bemoaning “monied interests.” Red light cameras are an enormous monied interest. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it the camera company that owns, operates, and reaps the rewards of the harvest?

    Cameras have no judgment. They sense any part of the car in the intersection, boom, citation. Well, the camera doesn’t lie! Have fun in court!

    You and I have both been in countless situations where we’d have wound up in the middle of the intersection had we slammed on the breaks at a yellow.

    People die in car crashes, no question. People run red lights. Station a traffic cop at problem intersections if there’s a serious danger. The other solution is driverless cars.

    But I’m not forfeiting my civil liberties to a camera. No way.

    • I like to think the people who may not die because people are forced to change their behavior from the selfish, entitled, irresponsible jerks they presently are , are the ones who reap the harvest.

    • Art

      Dave, You nailed it. Systemic issuance of red-light tickets foregoes the judgment factor that’s absolutely required. After having conversations with police officers on this topic, their position is if you’re half way through the intersection when the light turns red, NO ticket. Couple that with the fact the cross-traffic light doesn’t turn Green for one whole second after your light has turned Red, the T-Bone argument becomes a moot point. Another fact to consider: Yellow light duration is proportional to the speed limit for the street/hwy feeding into the intersection. All it takes is some selfish, entitled, irresponsible jerk to slam on his/her brakes the second they see Yellow and the common-sense drivers behind them have both feet planted on their brakes in hopes of avoiding a collision with the moron. Thanks for restoring my faith in my follow drivers.

      • // Couple that with the fact the cross-traffic light doesn’t turn Green for one whole second after your light has turned Red, the T-Bone argument becomes a mute point.

        I don’t understand. Explain, plz.

        .//All it takes is some selfish, entitled, irresponsible jerk to slam on his/her brakes the second they see Yellow and the common-sense drivers behind them have both feet planted on their brakes in hopes of avoiding a collision with the moron

        Actually, if a person slams on the brakes for a yellow and you rear end them, you were driving far too fast or far too close or not paying attention if you end up slamming into them.

        • Art

          First, an explanation regarding the light delay: You approach an intersection and your traffic light just turns from Yellow to Red. The traffic flowing perpendicular to your line of travel sits waiting for their light to turn from Red to Green. They will NOT see a Green light for one full second AFTER your light turns to Red. This equates to more time for those caught in the intersection when their light turns from Yellow to Red to pass through BEFORE the cross traffic is given a Green light to proceed. For a T-Bone scenario to take place, your light would need to turn Red well before you reach the intersection and yet you continue through the Red light.

          The point is there are valid cases where it makes more sense to proceed (ie your speed is 55 and you’re 60 yards from the intersection (2 seconds away) when the light turns Yellow. Those void of common sense slam on their brakes out of fear of a system-generated ticket or stupidity. Police officers are able to exercise judgment and more-than-likely, correctly assess what was appropriate. Red light cams will NOT.

          Regarding where responsibility lies during rear
          end collusions, you’re right. The car in the rear is entirely responsible. I guess I can change my brake pads more often to account for those who panic when a light turns Yellow.

          I travel down Hwy 55 from the Loretto area to
          Golden Valley, Monday through Friday. Every traffic light is synced, provided you maintain a speed of at least 60mph (easy to do at 9AM). If not, be prepared to sit for 2+ minutes at every light. Occasionally, a light will get out of sync. I call Hennepin County DOT, pinpoint the location, and within a day or two, the light has been re-synced. If Robo-Cam takes over, my commute could easily bump up 20 minutes each way, stuck behind people reacting to Big Brother’s newest discipline device.

          • Your scenario perfectly describes a typical day in Woodbury. People don’t run red lights because they can’t. They run them because they want to and they know they can do so with impunity.

          • Art

            “..because they want to … without impunity”. Disagree. I can’t speak for all drivers, but I can attest to my motives. I’m observant enough to understand the mechanics of the traffic light system. I operate within the constraints of the system, WITHOUT posing any safety hazard to anyone. With Robo-Cam, common sense and judgment calls that Dave and I are trying to express, are NOT possible. With police officers, they are. You’re being rather presumptuous to assume intentions of drivers as it relates to traffic lights.

          • Rob

            Sounds like you need to move closer to work.

          • Art

            I’m perfectly content with my commute under existing traffic law enforcement measures. So using your reasoning, I should quit my job if Robo-Cams are implemented. Hmmm. I thought this was a forum where pro’s and con’s could be discussed intelligently. Kind of a flippant solution for an issue that merits consideration of opposing views.

      • Rob

        Pro tip: Don’t tailgate, and you’ll never be in danger of rear-ending someone who decides a light is too stale to run. In other words, never presume that someone will run a stale light so that you can also run it by being right on their ass.

        • Art

          “never presume that someone will run a stale light….” I already operate under that premise. My point is with Robo-Cams, the panic level of the Yellow Light Fear Mongers only increases and DOT’s attempt to try to manage traffic flow via synchronized traffic lights is a wasted effort.

    • Rob

      Pro tip for approaching intersections with lights:
      Several seconds before arriving at intersection, determine if light is about to change (use crosswalk indicators or countdown numbers to determine light status).

      For lights that are about to change, but which you’ve determined you can still make it through, you should still be reducing speed slightly (acouple of MPH) in case you have underestimated how much time you have before the light begins to change. By so doing, you also make it less likely that anyone tailgating you will assume you’re going to keep moving.

      When you approach lights in this fashion, you are guaranteed to virtually never have to “slam on your brakes” for a yellow light.