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Tennessee Town Releases Red Light Camera Stats 567

Posted by timothy
from the let's-rethink-the-rolling-stop-at-least dept.
SonicSpike links to what he calls "a transparent look at some statistics released by a small town's red-light camera program," writing "Specifically, in the last fiscal quarter, 7,213 incidents were recorded, 2,673 incidents were rejected by the reviewing officer, and 662 incidents were not processed due to technical issues or lack of information. All in all 3,878 citations were issued between April 1 — June 30 in a town of 17,000 residents. Interestingly enough there are two nearby cities claiming that individuals 'have no presumption of innocence' when accused by the red light cameras." Fines for no-harm-no-foul rolling stops bug me, and remind me of Gary Lauder's suggestion to merge stop signs and yield signs.
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Tennessee Town Releases Red Light Camera Stats

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  • by lisany (700361) <slashdot@thedoRA ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:13PM (#33061852)

    The photograph IS the proof.

  • by Rene S. Hollan (1943) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:15PM (#33061874)

    This only applies in criminal cases in U.S., and a number of other jurisdictions.

    A lot of states have made traffic offenses civil offenses, where a preponderance of evidence is the standard.

  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:17PM (#33061902)

    This is not about public safety, it's about raising money for the municipality. Period.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:17PM (#33061906)

    The amazing thing is that the "fines" are $50, and do not get counted against your driving record, no matter how many you get, due to the state constitution... It doesn't allow blatant ripoffs.

    You know none of the current politicians had a hand in crafting it, lol.

    Our state constitution makes it illegal for them to charge more than $50 also.

    The "Speed/Traffic" cameras in nearby Oak Ridge, (which used to be a nice place, but is now Crack Alley) have at least three digits; it's become a game to see who gets the highest number. :)

    165 in a 25 zone? that's $50 please. :)

    It costs $167 to contest one of these tickets. Due process, anyone? Remember the golden rule, "the guy with the gold gets to make the rules."

    I don't spend money or time in places with these cameras; if enough people have that attitude, they will go away. Hopefully before the town does.

    Farragut is the rich section of Knoxville; Snobs, Bimbos, and teenagers driving/wrecking their BMW's daily, lol.

    You don't want to see the poor section of Knoxville; look up "Shannon Christian" on Knoxnews.com :(
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murders_of_Channon_Christian_and_Christopher_Newsom [wikipedia.org]

  • and you have the right to face your accuser so you can get out of these tickets pretty easily. If everyone would start to fight them in court the amount of money to run them at a loss would get rid of them pretty quickly.

    See the second link in the summary...
    The court filing obtained says offenders "are not entitled to a trial by jury, a presumption of innocence or a heightened burden of proof." [knoxnews.com]

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:18PM (#33061930) Homepage

    As the article specified, they DO catch "rolling stops"

    If you're rolling, you haven't stopped. If the light is red, you must stop. It's not a hard concept to grasp.

  • by mangu (126918) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:22PM (#33061994)

    If the light is red and you drive past it, how can you in any way claim to be innocent?

    If the man was alive and you killed him, how can you in any way claim to be innocent?

    What you are saying is that if someone is murdered and the security cameras point at you a trial is not needed.

    In the case that you were trying to say that running a red light is not as bad as murdering someone, therefore the standards of fairness should be set lower, then the US Constitution has something to say about that. The Sixth Amendment says you have a right to trial by jury in any criminal case. If it's a civil case the Seventh Amendment says there's a right to trial by jury whenever the value in controversy exceeds twenty dollars.

    Don't like that? Change the Constitution, there's a well-defined procedure for doing it.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:39PM (#33062218)

    and you have the right to face your accuser so you can get out of these tickets pretty easily.

    I should also add that in the trials I've seen, it's been stated that you have no right to face your accuser. That's a criminal court thing. These tickets are civil matters, so there is no such right, only "preponderance of the evidence". And a simple photo is all the evidence they need.

  • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:44PM (#33062278)

    Back when they still had photo radar here, they were fishing in a 50km/h zone, then went out to the highway. They forgot to change the speed up to 80km/h and everyone who went past the van got a ticket.

    They refused to overturn the tickets until someone went to the local media pointing out that there was a Jersey Barrier in the background, showing that it was in fact on the highway. As far as I know, you still had to go to court to get the tickets overturned, one at a time.

  • Re:no-harm no-foul (Score:4, Informative)

    by Posting=!Working (197779) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:00PM (#33062502)

    The problem with just increasing the length of yellow is that people will eventually become accustomed to longer yellows, and still run the red.

    Interesting theory, but not one that agrees with the studies I've read. Citation definitely needed.

  • Re:no-harm no-foul (Score:5, Informative)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:14PM (#33062692) Journal

    Agreed about the signs. I love having those. I'd love it even more if there were a timer right in the center beside the stoplight with big numbers.

    That said, I think you're wrong about drivers adjusting to the longer yellows. Humans don't estimate time very well beyond a few seconds unless they are actively counting. Thus, unless drivers got into the habit of ignoring the yellows entirely and slowing down on red, drivers adjusting isn't likely beyond about seven or eight seconds. And there have been studies that bear that theory out, IIRC, though I'm too lazy to search for them right now.

    The other thing that significantly improves safety as far as light timing goes is having a second or two of "all ways red" before giving the green light to the other direction. The first thing I noticed about traffic lights when I came to California from Tennessee was that in California, there was often no delay at all before the cross direction turned green. No surprise that California had to implement the stupid red light cameras to cut down on the T-bone crashes, which in turn, increased the rate of rear end collisions. It's all completely predictable by anyone with the slightest bit of common sense, really.

    There's one other really simple thing that cities can do: mark outer limit lines on the asphalt. After all, assuming cars are traveling at the speed limit, you can trivially calculate how far they can travel in the yellow time. Subtract the length of a typical vehicle, subtract the width of the intersection, measure that distance away from the intersection, and mark an obvious line (maybe we should standardize on a particular color so that it has meaning) that goes all the way across the street.

    By doing this, drivers know that if they haven't reached that line when the light turns yellow, they need to stop, and only if they have passed that line do they need to judge stopping based on their speed. Admittedly, if you're traveling under or over the speed limit, an outer limit line is less useful, but it at least gives you a general ballpark. And it costs a lot less than electronic countdown timers.... Combine them with longer yellow lights and even a second of "all ways red", and things will improve significantly.

    Such outer limit lines also have the convenient effect of being an affirmative defense if cities later decide to shorten yellow light timing to try to raise red light camera revenue (not to mention making it almost certain that they will get caught if they attempt to do so without first repaving the road). But I digress.

  • Re:no-harm no-foul (Score:1, Informative)

    by ThatMegathronDude (1189203) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:17PM (#33062732)
    for the whooshed mod that modded this redundant, its funny because Americans are not accustomed to roundabouts and get stuck in them, hence you pass by the landmarks several times while trying to maneuver out.
  • by Misch (158807) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:26PM (#33062852) Homepage

    Washington DC says no. 1998-2003 study shows that at red light camera intersections, collisions more than doubled, Injury and fatal collisions increased by 81%, and t-bones increased by 30%.

    At intersections without red light cameras over the same time period, collisions up by 64 percent; injury and fatal crashes rose 54 percent; and broadside collisions rose 17 percent.

    Source [washingtonpost.com]

  • by DRJlaw (946416) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:44PM (#33063122)

    The three common standards of proof are "preponderance of the evidence," "clear and convincing evidence," and "beyond a reasonable doubt." The first essentially boils down to it being more likely than not that the fact is true; the third is the classic televised standard in criminal cases (which is not as high as some on Slashdot believe); and the second is the subject of innumerous articles and court rulings because it's in the squishy middle. Burdens of proof establish permissible degrees of uncertainty concerning 'the absolute truth.' There are other standards of proof, but they tend to be lesser procedural hurdles intended to short circuit weak cases or undue intrusions on liberty.

    A presumption is not a standard of proof. A presumption establishes who 'wins' in the event that no side satisfies the burden of proof. A presumption of innocence establishes that the defendant in a criminal case is innocent unless all of the elements of the criminal case have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A presumption of validity in a patent case establishes that the patent owner can collect damages from an infringer unless the patent is affirmatively shown to be invalid. Presumptions work against that ancient rhetorical trick, "prove that I'm wrong" (or "prove that you're not guilty," or what have you), where someone flips the burden of proof to the other side.

    The court rulings referenced in the summary shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. There are civil offenses such as parking violations, property maintenance violations, zoning violations, etc. and there are criminal offenses where you at least nominally risk some form of deprivation of liberty (conventionally, detention in a jail or prison). Almost all civil actions use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, although statutes or courts occasionally require clear and convincing evidence. Essentially all criminal actions use "beyond a reasonable doubt," but that is not absolutely required -- it became a consensus in the U.S. well after the bill of rights was enacted. If you want to require your town to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that your neighbor let his grass grow taller than 12 inches, seek a change in the law, but you'll quickly find that it's unworkable.

    The "presumption of innocence" angle is a canard. The "presumption of innocence" has a specific meaning which invokes the criminal law, right to jury, and "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of proof. An abstract presumption of innocence still applies in these cases -- nobody is being fined without photographs of the vehicle and the violation.

    As a side note, under some of these laws, nobody has to prove that the person being fined was driving the car. The fine is to the owner of the car (don't want a fine, don't let people borrow the car) or maybe even to the car. I don't practice in this area, so I can't point to specific laws. Constitutional protections are very narrow, despite appearances to the contrary. Most protections are established by statute and are political. If you don't like them, get up and change them.

  • Re:no-harm no-foul (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:50PM (#33063186)
    Technical problems: They're usually too small to safely take at speed so they slow everything down even with perfect drivers.

    People problems: There's a lot of dipshit drivers that don't obey the line dividing the lanes within them so you end up having to brake/swerve to avoid some moron that's cutting into your lane. Also, some morons think that there's an implied stop sign before a roundabout and will stop even if there's no traffic present. This strikes me as odd considering the number of people that roll through real stop signs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @07:09PM (#33063400)

    As someone who was actually hit while being a pedestrian and loosing more than a year of my life to recovery and over half a years pay (AFTER the settlement), I can say that I am well versed in the statistics of such situations.

    The penalty for an actual event happening is low compared to the cost to the victim. In jurisdictions that enforce hard stops at lights, stop signs and cross walks you will find less than 1/3 the number of pedestrians hit. You will also see a drop in car collisions but not such an extreme drop.

    When an actual event happens, as the person in the car, you are looking at a minor increase in your insurance (up to double in extreme cases). The victim however can be end up with severe injuries, possibly permanently hurt. If the victim is, he is looking at recovering on average, about 70% of what he would have made for the duration he is hurt. This amount includes punitive damages in any settlement. It also assumes the driver is 100% at fault and clearly so.

  • Re:no-harm no-foul (Score:5, Informative)

    by bl968 (190792) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @07:21PM (#33063538) Journal

    That's a BS argument and has been refuted in the real world and has resulted in accidents at the intersection in question being reduced significantly.

    "The data show that the percentage of last-to-cross vehicles clearing the intersection (T+0.2) seconds or more past the yellow onset was not appreciably changed by the extension of the yellow phase." - The Influence of the Time Duration Of Yellow Traffic Signals On Driver Response, Stimpson/ Zador/ Tarnoff, ITE Journal, November 1980

    "Research has consistently shown that drivers do not, in fact, adapt to the length of the yellow." - Determining Vehicle Change Intervals - A Proposed Recommended Practice", ITE, 1985

    "Olson and Rothery reported in 1972 that their research showed that drivers were "virtually" certain to stop if their required deceleration rate was less than 8 feet per second squared and virtually certain to continue if the deceleration rate required was in excess of 12 feet per second squared" - Determining Vehicle Change Intervals - A Proposed Recommended Practice", ITE, 1985

    "The average implied deceleration rate of the group with the highest crash rate was slightly over 13 feet per second squared, and the deceleration rate for the group with the lowest crash rate was 8.5 feet per second squared" - "Effect of Clearance Interval Timing on Traffic Flow and Crashes at Signalized Intersections", Zador/ Stein/ Shapiro/ Tarnoff, ITE Journal, November 1985

    Increasing Yellow signal times is proven to work, but I don't object to them also requiring a prepare to stop timer as well.

    Try reading the studies these cameras increase not decrease accidents, the accidents cost more to repair, are more likely to injure people involved, and perversely are more likely to result in a fatality.

    Start here...

    http://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2007/05/15/traffic-enforcement-cameras-lead-to-increased-accidents-injuries-and-deaths/ [clarksvilleonline.com]

    the move on to

    http://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2008/09/23/red-light-cameras-in-the-volunteer-state-unsafe-unconstitutional-and-unnecessary/ [clarksvilleonline.com]

    and a oldie but goodie...

    http://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2008/09/23/red-light-cameras-in-the-volunteer-state-unsafe-unconstitutional-and-unnecessary/ [clarksvilleonline.com]

    I started out leaning towards being pro-camera figuring like most people they are a good thing, then I started doing research to prove the point I wanted to make. I had to change my views on the matter and oppose them.

    It's all about the money honey! These cameras are nothing but a dangerous revenue generating scheme.

  • Re:no-harm no-foul (Score:3, Informative)

    by quacking duck (607555) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @07:42PM (#33063768)

    The other thing that significantly improves safety as far as light timing goes is having a second or two of "all ways red" before giving the green light to the other direction. The first thing I noticed about traffic lights when I came to California from Tennessee was that in California, there was often no delay at all before the cross direction turned green. No surprise that California had to implement the stupid red light cameras to cut down on the T-bone crashes, which in turn, increased the rate of rear end collisions. It's all completely predictable by anyone with the slightest bit of common sense, really.

    Interestingly this doesn't happen in Quebec, where there is no "all ways red" (at least in the cities of Montreal and Gatineau), but there is in the province of Ontario. Drivers in Ontario routinely blow through red lights, because they know there's a safety buffer of a second or two. Meanwhile in Montreal, home to some of the most aggressive drivers in North America, almost no one blows a red because they know there's no buffer.

    There's one other really simple thing that cities can do: mark outer limit lines on the asphalt. After all, assuming cars are traveling at the speed limit, you can trivially calculate how far they can travel in the yellow time. Subtract the length of a typical vehicle, subtract the width of the intersection, measure that distance away from the intersection, and mark an obvious line (maybe we should standardize on a particular color so that it has meaning) that goes all the way across the street.

    Absolutely, and in most multi-lane roads this is exactly what they do here. Supposedly it's to indicate the point after where no lane changes should be made before entering an intersection (the white dashed lane separators turn solid), but I've timed these and they are indeed fairly good guides as to whether you'll make it into the intersection before it goes red, if you're going the speed limit.

    Pedestrian countdown timers are also being installed in many intersections, also very effective. And about time too; timers were in many cities I visited in China almost 15 years ago.

  • Re:no-harm no-foul (Score:3, Informative)

    by Quirkz (1206400) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @12:27PM (#33070754) Homepage
    Hm. My town has a couple of roundabouts, and I find them exceptionally dangerous in winter. Instead of being able to drive straight through the intersection, you're forced to drive in a big, looping arc where it's easier to skid out of control. And if someone's in the roundabout and you need to yield, you still risk sliding into traffic if you can't slow down or stop properly.

    Plus neither drivers nor pedestrians seem to be able to use them properly, which dramatically increases the risk of collisions.

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