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Red-Light Camera Ticket Revenue and Short Yellows 976

NicknamesAreStupid writes "A Fort Meyers news station reports a nerdy husband getting his wife out of a red-light camera ticket by proving the light was set with too short of a yellow. Then he goes out and proves that nearly 90% of the lights are set an average of about 20% too short. Is this a local incident, or have local governments nationwide found a new revenue source? What puzzles me is how a single picture can tell if you ran a light. If you are in the intersection before the light turns red, you have not run it, even if it takes a little while to clear it (say to yield to an unexpected obstacle). Wouldn't you need two pictures — one just before the light went red showing you are not in the intersection, and another after the light went red showing you in the intersection?"
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Red-Light Camera Ticket Revenue and Short Yellows

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  • by Chirs ( 87576 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:08PM (#31824228)

    you're doing it wrong.

    Around here you aren't supposed to enter the intersection unless you will be able to make it through before it turns red.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:11PM (#31824276)

    if you're in the intersection and it's red you're doing it wrong.

    Unless the light turns red before it's supposed to, which is the basis of the story.

  • by joggle ( 594025 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:21PM (#31824424) Homepage Journal

    Where in the world is it illegal to enter an intersection with a yellow light? What if you're going the speed limit (40mph) and just before you enter the intersection the light turns yellow? It would be impossible to stop and if you slammed on your breaks the guy behind you would probably run right into you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:27PM (#31824508)

    If you are in the intersection when the light is red the you have run the light. It's really very simple!

    Not if the light turns red before it's supposed to, which is what the whole story is about. If you won't RTFA, at least RTFS.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:28PM (#31824556)

    Anyone paying attention and driving an appropriate speed for traffic conditions will be able to stop before the intersection for a red light -- assuming, of course, that the yellow light is of proper duration

    Back in the real world, various cities have been shown to have reduced yellow light duration in order to increase fine revenues. It's hardly rocket science for a city that's low on cash. There were several newspaper articles about this in one city (DC, I think) a few years back.

    And, back in the real world, the only method I'm aware of which has been proven to reduce collision at stop lights is to increase the duration of the yellow; red light cameras merely result in more rear-end collisions as people slam on the brakes to avoid a ticket. While you can argue that's better than being hit from the side as someone runs the light, if you actually want to reduce accidents rather than rake in the fines, it would be much better if cities just increased the duration of the yellow.

  • by EvanED ( 569694 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [denave]> on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:31PM (#31824590)

    I have never in my life been in a situation where I've needed to run a red light

    I take it that every left turn you make is a protected turn?

    Making a left onto my street doesn't have a protected arrow, and the oncoming traffic is often busy enough that the only way you'll get through the intersection during much of the day is if you pull into the intersection and sit there until the oncoming traffic stops when their light is turning red.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:36PM (#31824650) Journal

    What's the point of yellow if it's just as restrictive as red, then?

    Everywhere I've driven in my life, yellow is there so that you can brake if you can do so safely, but since obviously there may be some people who cannot do that - as they're already too close to the intersection - they can proceed, knowing that it is safe, as the other direction is still red.

  • Re:Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by __aasqbs9791 ( 1402899 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:37PM (#31824654)

    I wonder for how long though? By this, I mean I heard they found a large benefit from adding the middle brake light (not sure of the name for it, but the one in the rear windshield) in taxi cabs in NYC. Something like 20% fewer rear end collisions (I'm guessing on the percentage as it was years ago that I heard this) so the government made it mandatory. Only it seems the improvement only lasted for a little while. Once it became standard and people became used to it, the improvement basically disappeared. So it only helped while it was novel, is that the case with longer yellow lights? Do people compensate for it after a little while when they start to learn it is a "long yellow"?

  • Not in Austin (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:39PM (#31824680) Homepage

    Don't recall the specifics, but at least one study found that lengthening the yellow light acually reduced accidents more than installing cameras.

    Indeed. Which is why when red light cameras came to Austin, they first studied all the 'bad' intersections and decided which should have their yellow light lengthened, and which should get a camera. I looked at a map they published showing which got which treatment, and it seemed like about half of the problem intersections were given longer yellows.

    One of the intersections that got a camera I have a lot of personal experience with, and it's yellow was just fine before and unchanged after. The problem was people just flagrantly running the red. Seriously it was ridiculous.

    Anyway, while I'm sure there's a contractor making a lot of money off the cameras, it seems to have been implemented fairly intelligently here.

    Also, while contracts may stipulate maximum yellows, state laws often dictate minimums. I've heard (on /.) of various municipalities getting in trouble with the state governments for breaking these laws to increase red light camera revenue. Which is disgusting. Okay yeah law is sometimes arbitrary, but this law is fundamentally based on the laws of physics. :P

  • by Game_Ender ( 815505 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:40PM (#31824700)
    But in this case you are just using the legal system in the worst possible way: To screw someone out of a legitimate outcome. If you were fighting an illegal ticket, or something the company legitimately did wrong it would make more sense.
  • Re:hay kdawson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boarder8925 ( 714555 ) <> on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:42PM (#31824718) Homepage
    I'm pretty sure that articles labeled Your Rights Online are for discussing people's rights in an online format. If the articles were about rights on the internet, then the category would probably/hopefully be called Your Online Rights.
  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:44PM (#31824754) Journal

    Ever been pulling a trailer during some rain and had the light turn yellow when you're 50' from the crosswalk? Good luck stopping in time. At 30 mph you're covering ~45 feet per second.

    What are you doing pulling a trailer at 30 mph in the rain in a town with crosswalks? Why aren't you driving at a safe stopping speed in those conditions?

  • by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:44PM (#31824766)

    If you cannot stop safely, do not speed up but drive cautiously through the intersection.

    But that doesn't say that it's illegal to be in the intersection when the light is red. It just tells you what you should do on a yellow light. Going by the excerpt you quoted, if the light turns yellow too late for you to safely stop, it doesn't matter what color the light is as you leave the intersection.

  • by Knara ( 9377 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:45PM (#31824768)
    You pull forward just a bit into the intersection, past the white/walk line. At worst, you complete your left turn when the light turns red, which clears the intersection.
  • by Jaime2 ( 824950 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:58PM (#31824950)
    The yellow is almost always too short when red light cameras are installed. The company that administers the system typically keeps 50 percent of the ticket revenue. They always recommend shortening the yellow light when they do a site survey. Research shows that making the yellow longer has more safety benefits than installing a camera does. Doing both might be even safer, but so few people run red lights when the yellow is sufficiently long that the red light companies refuse to install and operate a camera there.

    So, install a camera and make a bundle of money, or lengthen the yellow light and save more lives but make no money. Guess which path most governments are choosing?
  • by xdor ( 1218206 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:59PM (#31824964)
    Cities should not try to make up for tax short-falls with citations: they need to cut spending instead.
  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) * on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:20PM (#31825182) Homepage Journal
    The city is using the camera not for safety, but for profit. The third party law enforcement doesn't give a rats ass about safety, just the profit. Fuck 'em. If you can weasel out of it, more power to you!
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:24PM (#31825216) Homepage Journal

    Not every one. But I don't pull into the intersection until I know I can make my turn. Gridlock sucks, and I refuse to contribute to it.

    But you actually may be contributing to it if you do what you're describing.

    There's a good reason they teach you to pull into the intersection for unprotected left hand turns. It's more efficient. If you pull partially into the intersection, you are guaranteed that you can get at least one car out safely when the light turns red. There's no possibility that doing so can increase gridlock (unless the road you're turning onto is backed up, of course) because it takes a moment for the cars in the cross direction to get moving anyway, during which time you should have cleared the intersection.

    By staying out of the intersection until you know you can get all the way through it on a left turn, you significantly increase the chances of getting zero cars out per light cycle instead of one. Somewhere behind you, there is now a car that is farther back by one car length than before. This may well result in gridlock even by the most pedantic definitions. Even if it doesn't, it contributes to traffic backups (which some people describe rather loosely as gridlock).

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:30PM (#31825282)

    But in this case you are just using the legal system in the worst possible way: To screw someone out of a legitimate outcome. If you were fighting an illegal ticket, or something the company legitimately did wrong it would make more sense.

    Wow! The same legal system that would fuck him if he just bent over and took it can also be used to fight back? What blasphemy! He plays by THEIR rules and still he's the bad guy?

    Ever consider that 100% enforcement mechanisms are inherently illegitimate in the first place? Society runs on slack, the less tolerance of slack the less life is worth living (and the less efficient everything is too). Yeah, 1 out of a million times someone gets killed because the slack was used when it should not have been. That doesn't mean that destroying all the slack is a legitimate response.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:35PM (#31825336)

    Queuing across an intersection = annoyed motorists. Fine is appropriate to deter annoying behaviour with the understanding that is also sometimes hard to avoid.

    Running a red light = potential major collision. Fine is appropriate to deter this incredibly dangerous behaviour that is almost always avoidable.

    Setting the yellow/orange/amber light to a time that is too short to stop safely = dangerous behaviour to increase revenue/profit. To deter this, the penalty should include repayment with interest to all those fined by the camera since its installation, plus jail time for those involved in defrauding the public.

    Simple solution, but I'm pretty sure the people going down (if anyone) will be low level scape goats that had no decision making power anyway.

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:37PM (#31825346)

    But in this case you are just using the legal system in the worst possible way: To screw someone out of a legitimate outcome.

    New to the legal system, are we?

    But yeah, he should pay the ticket. It's not like he got snared by a rigged light, as happens to a lot of people. He made an illegal right turn. End of story.

  • by pipedwho ( 1174327 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:39PM (#31825372)

    ...because people keep blowing through red lights like there's no tomorrow.

    And for some of those people, there indeed will be no tomorrow.

  • by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:44PM (#31825422) Homepage

    Yellow: Stop unless you're already crossing the line when it goes yellow.

    [Citation needed]

    A quick sanity check would show why your statement can't possibly be true as written: Suppose you are doing 50 mph down a business district. You are six inches (or six feet or even 60 feet) shy of the intersection as the light turns yellow. Do you stop or proceed through the intersection? According to what you stated above, proceeding through the intersection would be illegal. However, at 50 mph, the vehicle takes approximately 100 feet to stop (per this site []). If you try to stop, you will probably run the light anyway and you'll probably get rear ended if there is any traffic behind you. Even the most hard-core states will have a disclaimer in the yellow light law that essentially says "stop if you can, proceed if you must."

  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:49PM (#31825458) Journal

    30 MPH in those conditions may be perfectly safe. For one thing, there are unlikely to be many pedestrians out in the rain. For another, most towns have crosswalks in places well outside of shopping districts where you typically find lots of pedestrians. There are crosswalks in my home town back in TN that have lots of people at noon and 1 (around lunch hour) but are otherwise unused for most of the rest of the day. And so on.

    I'd posit that someone who can't stop their vehicle in time to avoid a red light also can't stop their vehicle in time to avoid a pedestrian. Pedestrians don't always behave predictably.

    Speed limit in my town, through the busy section, with limited visibility due to a hill, is 35 mph. It's barely safe at that speed. In the rain, pulling a trailer? Forget 35. Should be going 25, tops, IMO. I think people take too many liberties with speed when they're towing, or driving a behemoth in the rain... but that's my personal opinion, YMMV.

    That said, this argument should be moot because you would cross that 50 foot distance in a second or so, and then you should be able to get out of the intersection before the light turns red. If you are unable to do so, the yellow was too short, plain and simple.


    The ones that really bug me are the left turn arrows that are too short. If I start into an intersection from a dead stop on a green arrow and it is red for two seconds before I can get out of the intersection while accelerating at a reasonable speed, the yellow is too short. Oh, and did I forget to mention that if you accelerate just a little slower than most people, someone could legitimately enter the intersection on a green light and potentially T-bone the turning traffic? Sunnyvale, CA, I'm looking at you. Pretty much every side street off of Sunnyvale Rd. has this problem....

    Story of my evening commute. Every day, the last light before I get home... gun it through on the green left turn signal, or get squashed by someone anticipating the green coming the other way. The yellow is plenty long enough... but if there's only one car in the left-turn lane, the green light literally lasts for less than one second. Heaven forbid you're not waiting to pop the clutch as soon as it turns green.

  • by Digicrat ( 973598 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:57PM (#31825522)

    Actually, it's just 2 photos. The computer detects where the license plate is in the photo and they print out a zoomed-in version of it for the record. I'm sure the original photo is significantly higher resolution than that of the printer used to send you the notice.

    Note: I haven't been a victim of the red-light cameras, but I was caught by their speeding camera once. Placed on the exit ramp/street from 295 right after the speed limit dropped, but well before the end of the highway and a light/intersection.

    Placing of those speed cameras can be just as shady as yellow-light timings . . .

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:08PM (#31825636) Journal

    AAA of Maryland sued Washington DC for having lights that were too short. The result was a refund for the drivers who had been caught by this Revenue generation scheme, and DC ordered their contractor to make the yellows a long enough time so people could stop on yellow.

  • by ggpauly ( 263626 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:18PM (#31825696) Homepage

    Short yellows are used in several jurisdictions to generate revenue.

    Do you think the authorities running these rackets estimate the revenue per death?

    It seems this is common. I've been caught (a ticket, not an accident) by one in Ohio. The cop who ticketed me said it was the most dangerous intersection in the county.

    He knew.

    A couple of these exploits are mentioned here: []

    This link has it at a little under one added accident per million vehicle entries into an intersection. The ticket rate must be much higher than 1 in a million, so they get nice revenue for each citizen they kill, perhaps $5 million if 1% fatality rate in accidents and $50 tickets to 0.1% of drivers. At least the government doesn't think our lives are cheap. Injuries and repairs are other costs we pay, so this is a very expensive way to fund our government. Drive more carefully in a recession when governments get hungry.

  • Re:Legality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:30PM (#31825822)
    Whether they issue a traffic citation or do it administratively via a code infraction, it's still a blatant violation of F.S. 316.007, which states in part "no local authority shall enact or enforce any ordinance on a matter covered by this chapter unless expressly authorized.". The only reason localities implement these programs administratively is so they can attempt to avoid having the accusation heard by a real court, because they know they'd get their butts handed to them if they did.

    There's also the issue of the state losing money as a result of these practices - the distribution of money from each traffic ticket is very explicitly defined in state law, but by taking this route, the local municipalities figure they can get away with not having to pay the amounts legitimately owed to the state.
  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:34PM (#31825868) Homepage Journal
    If you entered when it was green, and were still there when it was red, then you were there for the entire yellow cycle, which is far too long to be in the intersection. One assumes that you did not have a clear path through the intersection, in which case it would be illegal to enter the intersection even if the light was green.
  • by navyjeff ( 900138 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:47PM (#31825976) Homepage Journal

    Why not just pay it, considering you actually broke the law?

    Because a private company is not law enforcement. There is no reason you should pay a corporation or private party for a perceived criminal, civil or traffic law infraction without it going through a government entity. To do otherwise is to invite fascism.

  • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy @ g m a> on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:56PM (#31826048)

    If you're doing 35mph and the light turns red when you're 10 feet from the intersection, the SAFE thing to do is blow the red light... not lock up your breaks and go careening into the next lane to avoid breaking a silly ordinance.

    No, the "SAFE" thing to do is to put down the phone/book/computer/whatever and pay attention to what you're doing.

    If you only realised you needed to stop when the light went red 10 feet before you entered the intersection, then your actual driving error happened about 200 feet back up the road.

  • Re:Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aXis100 ( 690904 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:59PM (#31826082)

    Airbags were only a problem in the USA, where they had to be powerfull enough to stop an unrestrained adult.

    For the rest of the seatbelt wearing world, airbags reduce head trauma and thus save lives.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:07PM (#31826184) Journal

    The yellow light exists as a convenience. They could just as well do away with it completely and have a period of time where all directions have a red light.

    You always need the yellow, and often need both. The yellow light is necessary because it takes a nonzero amount of distance to stop. Without the yellow light, the situation will often come up that the light turns red while a car is unable to stop before entering the intersection. The all-red period allows for traffic which entered late in the cycle time to clear the intersection. If you have good visibility and can assume people won't just act like Pavlov's dogs and floor it on green with a car in their way, you don't really need it... but often neither assumption holds in real life. (The visibility issue is mostly for higher-speed intersections where approaching traffic might be able to see the green light before they see the intersection itself)

  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:10PM (#31826210)

    If you are in the intersection before the light turns red, you have not run it, even if it takes a little while to clear it (say to yield to an unexpected obstacle). Wouldn't you need two pictures — one just before the light went red showing you are not in the intersection, and another after the light went red showing you in the intersection?"

    The purpose of the photograph isn't to prove you ran a red light. The motion sensors, and in some cases underground magnetometers, can detect if your car enters the intersection on a red. The only purpose of the photograph is to record your license plate so they know who to send the ticket to. The photograph is one, but not the only, piece of evidence.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:24PM (#31826342) Journal

    I read somewhere once about a scheme to make intersections safer by marking a "point of no return" line prior to an intersection. The idea is that if the light turns yellow (or is yellow) prior to the point of no return, you have room to stop (assuming you're going the speed limit). If you've passed the marking, then it would be more dangerous to stop (and end up in the middle of the intersection) rather than continue through the intersection.

    Said point would be good for exactly one sort of vehicle under one set of conditions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:28PM (#31826382)

    Not true - you own the intersection as soon as you enter enter on yellow. It doesn't matter when it turns red after that. Running a red means you entered when it was red, not exited on red.

  • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:00PM (#31826686)

    That's precisely what I mean. But people above claim that, if I complete the turn when light turns red, I break the law!

    The people above are wrong.

    Running the red light means entering the intersection when the light is red.

    If you are making a turn, you may still be in the intersection when the light turns red. That is fine.

    If you remain in the intersection after the light turns red, you may be violating your state's anti-gridlock law. It's legal if you GTFO of the intersection now that the traffic's stopped. It's illegal to remain stopped in the intersection.

  • by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:14PM (#31826804) Journal
    I would appreciate such a line, but I expect there would be too many problems with it. People going too slow would go through stale yellows when they shouldn't, others would speed up figuring they were close enough to still make it. Plus, the line would be hard to adjust for weather and road conditions. The concept is good for teaching people to judge what to do with a yellow light, but implementing it probably won't solve any problems, just change them. Longer yellows and longer all-red times would probably do more good.
  • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:44PM (#31827046)

    You should follow your own advice...I'd like to see some citations from this handbook you speak of, since your statements are in error.

    You must completely clear an intersection before the light turns red.

    Wrong in all 50 states. You may not enter after it turns red, but it is legal to exit after it turns red. Assuming you are not violating anti-gridlock laws (see below).

    You can not enter an intersection unless you have time to clear it

    You appear to be conflating anti-gridlock laws with the laws regarding red lights. You may not enter the intersection if you can not exit the intersection. For example, if you are going straight and the traffic ahead of you is stopped at the far side of the intersection, you can't legally enter the intersection.

    This means that when you see yellow you stop.

    Wrong. To do so would require that you regularly violate the laws of physics. On a 35mph street if the light turns yellow when you are 30 feet from the intersection, you cannot stop before entering the intersection. It's pretty easy to see that this is wrong, in that there's no reason to have yellow lights if they mean the exact same thing as a red light. Yellow means "stop if you safely can, go through if you cannot safely stop" in all 50 states.

  • by branewalker ( 1665523 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:48PM (#31827076)

    College Station, TX has a long and storied history with these things, and we recently voted them out of our city on referendum.

    First, our Chief of Police was let go for one "bad review" after 20 distinguished years on the force when he, as a citizen of College Station, not even in official capacity, opposed red light cameras. The reason he did so was that other city officials were proposing shortening yellow light times to raise revenues.

    I got a ticket at a light one night. The speed limit as marked was 40mph, but just before the intersection (about a block) it changes to 30 mph. As I slowed, the light turns yellow, but judging from my initial speed, I believe I can make it just fine. It changes red just before my front bumper passes the line marking the intersection. The yellow light time was based on the 30mph posted speed limit at the intersection, but not the 40mph speed limit where the decision zone is located. This is legal, apparently. Also, the light is set for the shortest legal yellow duration, despite recommendations of at least a half second longer by many safety organizations, including one recommendation based on a study from Texas A&M University, located just blocks away.

    So we got a petition to get the ordinance that allows red light cams on a referendum vote. There was a large counter-push by some organization calling themselves "College Station Residents for Red Light Safety" or some such that was funded by the company that installed and maintained the cameras, which as you might guess, isn't local at all.

    Even after a decisive vote, the group tried to sue to have the vote overturned on a technicality, but the suit was thrown out. Those things die hard.

    Anyway, a couple of notes:

    1. Sometimes the people who are retrieving the evidence (i.e. pictures) from the cameras aren't government officers. This can be improper handling of evidence, and can get your ticket thrown out.

    2. What about rental cars, or friends driving your vehicle? This tickets the car, not the driver. My mom got a red light camera ticket in a rental car once. The rental car company got the ticket, paid it, and charged her credit card. Nothing she could do about it. How is that due process?

  • Re:Of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:40AM (#31827432)

    Not only that, but we're also taught that 1) baby chairs must be facing opposite the direction of travel (i.e. back to front) and 2) the airbags must be disabled when a baby chair is in use (for obvious reasons).

    I believe the idea is that not only is it much safer to have your back against the direction of travel when in a crash (IF there's a strong seat-back to support you), but it also reduces the need to take your eyes off the road as much while driving, because the baby is in your field of view.

  • by Spacepup ( 695354 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:57AM (#31827526)

    "Why does this seem like guilt is assumed unless innocence is proven? Why can't they simply check the lights and rescind the tickets?"

    A better question is why are we letting our letting our local government's treat it's citizens this way?
    A private, for profit company should never issue traffic fines, officer reviewed or not. There is far too much room for abuse. The government should not look upon criminal penalties as a revenue system lest it turn all it's citizens into criminals.
    Governments who treat the people as enemies of the state may find themselves the enemies of the people.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @01:25AM (#31827660) Journal

    I can see where if the roadways, rules, and drivers expectations are setup properly, then yes it can work and the only increase in danger I can think of there is mostly 'out of town' drivers not aware of the situation and tiny reduction in space (and thus reaction times) in some situations

    True, but then that applies every time you have a driver coming from a place with rules that are different (even in just one aspect, so long as it's important) from local ones. It's why one of the first things I do in a new country/state/province is to buy a local road code book - now knowing how different things can be from personal experience.

    I don't know, maybe they should require a brief exam for the most important driving rules when issuing visas or something :)

    But around here there are quite a few places where that pull out trick will leave you stuck in the middle of a bad situation. Especially where more than 2 roads intersect (not to many of those though) or at t intersection across from shopping/profession buildings.

    From what you describe with how your left turn signals work, I can easily imagine that. Thanks for warning, actually - I wasn't aware that there is a difference with respect to this anywhere, much less the 'States (rather than some more exotic place with vastly different rules). I'll have to keep that in mind should I ever venture past the places I've already been there.

    What is the state in question, by the way?

  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:33AM (#31828382)

    You guys need roundabouts. They keep the traffic flowing.

  • by snowgirl ( 978879 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @05:51AM (#31829052) Journal

    red light cameras merely result in more rear-end collisions as people slam on the brakes to avoid a ticket.

    Citation needed.

    While I'm perfectly aware that reality does not fit with legal theory, stating that one is unable to stop when they should because of a fear of rear-end collisions is nonsense, and smacks of driver irresponsibility.

    Defensive driving is the responsibility of every driver. If you're afraid that you would be unable to perform an emergency stop without being rear-ended, then you need to slow down, until you're going a speed safe enough that you can stop for both you, and the person behind you.

    It's awesome that car safety has gotten to the point that we care more about who is at fault for an accident than actually being in one, but defensive driving cannot simply be left to languish.

  • by tg123 ( 1409503 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @05:51AM (#31829054)
    WoW A man who actually listens to his wife.

    Thats the story all the rest is fluff.

    I can imagine the conversation.....

    Wife: blah blah blah but honey the yellow light was too short.

    Hubby : Really so how long do you think the yellow light was again?. I will just go over to the intersection now with my stopwatch and measure it.

    What a man.

  • by snowgirl ( 978879 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @06:36AM (#31829328) Journal

    ...snip.. (frankly, highly illegal) practice of my state demanding court costs up front if you take the ticket to court, to be refunded if you win. I'm fairly sure that violates the innocent-before-proven-guilty clause in both state and federal constitutions.

    The more I learn about the law, the more I learn why it is important to talk to a lawyer in many situations.

    What they're demanding here is a "bond", which is entirely legal, and not in any way a violation of state or federal constitutions. There is no presumption that you are guilty, there is merely a requirement that court costs be paid up front.

    This is no different than placing bonds on defendants, which are refunded in the event that the defendant does show up in court.

  • by AlexiaDeath ( 1616055 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @06:59AM (#31829472)
    Even if you have good brakes, the guy behind you may not have. Or may be a truck with several tonnes more weight on it. That's why there's a yellow light and that's why it has a length limit.
  • Re:Old news. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @07:53AM (#31829792)

    Agreed. Here in British Columbia, camera ticketing was taken to the Supreme Court against the Constitution of BC. The man ended up losing, however shortly after, the government removed all photo radar from the streets and disabled all red light cameras province-wide. This was nearly ten years ago.

    The results have been almost nothing but positive.

  • by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @08:04AM (#31829856) Journal

    Ah, so that's the reason for this "revenue-raising" nonsense. It's a scapegoat, so you don't feel bad when you try to weasel out of fines!

    You did something careless and unsafe. You were caught. The fact that you were caught by someone trying to make a profit doesn't actually change the situation.

  • Modern cars have incredible braking power and all you have to do is mash the pedal to the floor, they can stop safely in very short distances. The problem is that this would cause the driver's cell phone to fall into their coffee, and all the crap on the rear deck would end up in the front of the car, and their perpetually-soft tires would take a great deal of wear.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll