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Privacy Crime

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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  • Legality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:08PM (#31824234)
    Bah, forget the issues with the short yellow - what torques me is that here in Florida it's illegal for municipalities to legislate this kind of thing, but they do it anyway, and no one says boo.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:14PM (#31824312) Journal
    In some busy cities it would be impossible to get anywhere if you couldn't be in an intersection when the light turns red, especially for left turns. I typically adjust my driving habits based on where I am driving. I don't know where you live, but around here it is legal to be in an intersection when the light turns red.
  • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:16PM (#31824344)

    ...if they are for "public safety" instead of revenue. I know of several cities here in Missouri that have turned them off because people stopped running the red lights. Instead of going to the press and talking about their success. No the departments were complaining because NO ONE WAS RUNNING THE LIGHTS and therefore not making any money and forcing them to "turn them off". They didn't put those cameras there to increase public safety. They did it to increase revenue.

  • by mcsqueak ( 1043736 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:19PM (#31824398)

    In my city, we now have cross walk signals that display a count down in large illuminated digits until the signal is going to change.

    I know this is primarily for the benefit of pedestrians, but I like them as a driver as well. I now know with a greater degree of accuracy how long the green light is going to last, and if I need to be aware of an upcoming change to yellow and perhaps slow down, rather than speeding up to "make it".

    This is particularly useful at an intersection I drive through every day on my way to and from work, which has a red-light camera.

  • by trentfoley ( 226635 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:21PM (#31824420) Homepage Journal

    I got busted by a red light camera a few weeks ago.

    I received a letter in the mail showing two photos of my car. The first showed my car approaching the red light. The second showed my care turning right at the red light. Of course, I assumed that I had come to a complete stop at the red prior to turning right. I was all ready to fight the ticket on grounds that the two photos did not prove the city's case.

    However, reading the entire contents of the letter led me to an http link where I could see the 'complete evidence' available to the city. Sure enough, I go to the provided website, enter a string of letters/digits and I am presented with a video showing my car rolling through the light without stopping.

    I had no idea that they were capturing motion video as well as still pictures. Nevertheless, I was bummed.

    But, even then, my wife, who is an attorney here in St. Louis, advised me against paying the ticket. It turns out that the ticket is issued by a 3rd party that operates the cameras, and not by the city police. There will be no impact on my driving record. The worst that can happen is it will be turned over to collections and placed on my credit report. At that time, I will simply hand it over to my wife and she will challenge the reporting agencies to provide proof that it was me driving the car, and that the debt is mine. Being unable to do that, they will be forced to drop it from my credit report.

    Sometimes it is helpful to have a wife that specializes in US Bankruptcy law.

  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:22PM (#31824446)

    San Diego had this problem. The city either deliberately chose lights that already had short yellows or it set the yellows short after the cameras were installed. That was just one aspect of the fiasco that was the red light camera program. Some attorneys found that many tickets, which were originated by the red light camera company but supposedly "reviewed" by an officer, had in fact been issued without the review. The cop had gone on vacation and presigned a bunch of the "reviews" so people were in effect being ticketed by Lockheed. People who went to court and attempted to subpoena the red light camera design, software, and installation documents (so that they could assess whether the cameras were operating correctly when the alleged offense occurred) were threatened by Lockheed with a lawsuit for attempting to access trade secrets. There were many other questionable things that went on in the program that I've now forgotten about, but suffice it to say that the whole thing smelled so bad that the city terminated the program. It's since come back, but with major changes.

  • Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:24PM (#31824466)

    Just ask AAA: The number one way to make intersections safer is double the lengths of the yellows. You take an arbitrary intersection that has accident problems and if you lengthen the yellow, that tends to do more to solve the problem than anything else. Of course as you note, long yellows are counter to profit from red light cameras.

  • by usul294 ( 1163169 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:28PM (#31824558)
    In Maryland, where I live, the law is the same as Florida's. I've seen the light turn red on me just as I pass under and the red light camera never took a picture. I think there's a law requiring some sort of review before they send you a ticket, so if there was a good reason, you don't get ticketed.
  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:29PM (#31824568) Journal

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

    I have been in that situation many times. Specifically, I'm turning left, and there's no left-turn arrow, so when green comes up, I just drive ahead somewhat past the stop line (as they teach you to do), and wait for a gap in traffic to turn into.

    Now, normally, in such a situation, if the oncoming traffic is heavy enough that there is no chance to turn on green, you end up turning on yellow. The problem is that all too often, people driving straight just blast through on yellow, one by one, not giving you a chance to turn - and so you end up still being stuck on the middle of the road when red comes up.

    Then again, my city (Richmond, BC) has some really long yellow traffic light times - at least in comparison to many other places I've seen - for which I am really glad. It might make traffic move a little bit slower, but it also makes things safer somewhat, since people don't rush as much.

  • Only not. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alaren ( 682568 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:47PM (#31824808)

    They had to start painting those red lines because Arizona is an "extension of the curb" state, but drivers assumed that the white lines (for crosswalks etc.) equaled curb lines, while the cameras are set "correctly" (ostensibly). So drivers who reasonably believed themselves to be a safety hazard if they stayed put were getting tickets for waiting too long in the intersection. My wife, for example, got a red light ticket for crossing the arbitrary (and, as it was in Avondale, unpainted) line with her back wheel .2 seconds after the left turn arrow turned red. She did online traffic school because it wasn't worth our time or money to fight the fine. But was obvious to me from the video that what she did was both safe and legal within the limits of human perception.

    That this represents nothing more than an income stream for the city and the camera maker is obvious to anyone who thinks about the issue for more than five minutes.

    There is a term in legal theory that is used to uncritical application of the law without reference to rational thought. That term is "mechanical jurisprudence." The concept of automatic enforcement is massively problematic, and I believe represents a whole new generation of literally mechanical jurisprudence. They keep the fines low enough that it isn't worth most people's time to fight them, but high enough that they can afford lobbyists and PR firms to convince rubes that it's "for your own safety."

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

    by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:48PM (#31824822) Homepage
    My understanding was that to make it safer, you make the time when both lights are red longer, don't just make a longer yellow.
  • by Garridan ( 597129 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:49PM (#31824834)

    Naw, it's like that in Washington, too. But, the traffic cameras (speaking from experience here) are pretty sophisticated. They take one picture of the vehicle behind the line, one with it in the middle of the intersection and one very high resolution picture of the license plate. If the light was red before you entered the intersection, no contest. And, there are timestamps on the pictures so it's pretty clear that they were taken fractions of a second apart.

  • Re:Of course (Score:2, Interesting)

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:57PM (#31824932)

    I find this slightly odd, reading through the comments here suggests that 90% or more of people misunderstand what yellow means – they think it means "go if you think you can squeeze through", rather than "stop, unless you absolutely can't".

    Based on that, I wonder if the best solution to solving this problem is actually to *shorten* the period that the lights stay yellow, but to increase the amount of time that all lights are red. That is, make some of the time in which your light is yellow, into time in which it's red, and the opposing flow of traffic *still* isn't moving.

  • Re:Legality (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:57PM (#31824938)

    In Florida they get around it by not issuing a violation (which can only be done with a law officer apparently) but by issue a code violation (which doesn't need an officer present). If you Google "Aventura Florida red light camera" there are a bunch of articles where people have protested the cameras. And you're absolutely right; every municipality enforces it differently, and there *is* a law against that. The law was designed to keep laws uniform across city boundaries and essentially regulates what cities can legislate.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @07:57PM (#31824940) Journal

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

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:20PM (#31825184)
    True, however you're supposed to stop when the light turns yellow unless you can't do so safely. The yellow light is just meant as a margin of error before the traffic starts going in the other direction. You're most certainly not supposed to count on the length of the yellow to clear the intersection before the red light.

    The main weak spot in this type of enforcement is that you don't necessarily know if the person who gets caught was able to safely stop prior to going through the light. Accuracy and practical challenges aside.
  • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:30PM (#31825280) Homepage

    But people above claim that, if I complete the turn when light turns red, I break the law!

    Once you are at the intersection you must clear it in a safe manner, regardless of lights - especially if you are turning, then it's not clear which light would govern your actions. I used to see this situation every morning at one place: when the light turns green the intersection ahead is still packed with cars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:39PM (#31825368)

    I saw a Richmond driver pull a U-turn right in front of an oncoming double-trailer fuel truck. The truck stopped in time, but there was smoke pouring off of all thirty tires. I don't think the car driver had any idea how close they came to being flattened.

  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:52PM (#31825474) Homepage

    I got a ticket for a right turn on red maneuver, which came down to the fact that the light turned red a fraction of a second before I made my turn.

    I asked for a hearing and requested information which would verify the accuracy of the timing of the light, including technical specifications, testing data, etc. The city attorney sent me a response claiming to have the information available at his office, but when I went downtown to peruse it, all they had was some details on the contract between the red light camera company and the city and a few tests of the light's vehicle speed reading against a radar gun. Nothing at all about the actual timing of the light.

    When I went to attend the hearing, the 'testifying officer' (some guy who had watched the recorded video) could not cite for me how long the light was supposed to be yellow (although he did bring up some non-legal recommendation) which was something I couldn't find even after reading all the apparently applicable state and local traffic laws. He also was only able to roughly count out the length of light being yellow rather than providing a specific measurement.

    Despite their not being able to show that the equipment was working properly (to within the relevant margin of error) or in compliance with legal specifications, nor providing me with the information I had requested which may have allowed me to firmly ascertain my own innocence, I was declared "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" of having committed this trespass of a fraction of a second. I could have requested to bring it before a judge but I was told the court fees would be more than paying the fine, and without legal aid it simply did not seem worth the effort.

    It also irked me that it took them ~4 months after the fact to send me the notice of the violation. By that time I didn't even remember being at the intersection in question, so I was effectively deprived of my own witness (were there mitigating circumstances? had I loaned my car to someone else that day? I have no idea).

  • by BillX ( 307153 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:35PM (#31825872) Homepage

    Mod points if I had 'em. If Boston instituted/enforced a rule that you couldn't enter the intersection on green for a left turn, they would have to outlaw left turns outright to avoid complete gridlock (dedicated left-turn lanes on otherwise single-lane-per-direction roads are rare here). Allowing to enter the intersection ensures that at least one car can move per light cycle.

  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:39PM (#31825914)

    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.

  • Re:Old news. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:42PM (#31825936) Journal

    Can you cite any proof of that?

    Just personal experience. It seems that, for quite a few people, when they know that their chances of getting through are high, they'll go for it.

    Those who won't stop will have less chance of hitting someone because they're more likely to be through the light before it goes red.

    That is true, which is why I still prefer it that way.

    Because if you give people enough time to stop, the fines won't pay for the cameras.

    The cameras aren't supposed to pay for themselves - insistence that they do is precisely what gets us into this mess. They should rather be viewed strictly as a tool to enforce compliance with the law, when violations of said law are common, and the consequences are likely dangerous and even deadly. If that tool isn't free, that is fine (within reasonable limits). Traffic lights themselves aren't free, either.

  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:44PM (#31825954) Homepage Journal
    In Oklahoma, you can even be ticketed for failure to yield if you enter the intersection and strike another vehicle which has illegally run a red light. My friend was ticketed for this when he turned left on a green arrow and another car from the other direction ran into him after running a red light.
  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:47PM (#31825980) Journal

    Once you are at the intersection you must clear it in a safe manner, regardless of lights - especially if you are turning

    That's precisely what the law is where I live, and I just can't understand how it could possibly be any different. The problem is that people in this thread claimed that it is not so in at least some U.S. states, which sounds crazy to me - might as well just ban left turns on controlled intersections altogether.

  • by BLKMGK ( 34057 ) <morejunk4me@hotma i l .com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:51PM (#31826008) Homepage Journal

    And Virginia... they have already removed one red light cam where I lived because of accident issues apparently. I even know of someone who had to goto court to fight his ticket despite the picture clearly showing his having been rear-ended and SHOVED through the intersection by the other car.

    My favorite quote in this article is for others to come forward who think they were shorted! Hello! Why does this seem like guilt is assumed unless innocence is proven? Why can't they simply check the lights and rescind the tickets? Oh yeah - traffic court aka kangaroo court. Never have I seen a court in which a police officer can be caught in a bold faced lie and the driver still convicted but it happens in traffic court!

  • by Zero_DgZ ( 1047348 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:53PM (#31826018)

    In my state, they DO need two pictures to prove that you ran the light. All of the red light cameras around here overtly take two pictures (with flash, even during daylight hours!) and you're "supposed" to receive the pictures along with your ticket in the mail. And, yes, nearly all of the camera equipped traffic lights here have noticeably and demonstrably short yellow lights, where the state mandate (and possibly federal DOT, 'do it this way if you want your highway grants') is three seconds, some of the camera-lights in town are as short as one second!

    The process is highly automated and it's fairly obvious that there is no human oversight. The enticement not to contest the ticket or call the state out on anything is the (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.

    Story #1: I stood behind a gentleman in line at the DOT one day who was (this is important for the story) a fairly dapper black man who owned a very nice Harley, which I admired out in the parking lot. I saw him ride it up. He brought with him his mailed-in ticket, showing both pictures of someone on a bike running a red light. A skinny white man, with no helmet, wearing a wife beater. On a street bike (think crotch rocket, not a Harley). After pointing out his bike and skin color to the clerk (and I vouched for him; I saw him ride the bike up) the ticket was quietly erased. Obviously, no one had looked at the photos and even the computer system had gotten the license plate number wrong.

    Story #2: I got "nailed" by a traffic light camera that I KNEW had a short yellow light, from watching other people get caught by it. Instead of going through the yellow, I stopped at the line and let the light turn red. A full three seconds or so after the light went red, the camera flashed me twice. I anticipated the stupidity well in advance, and was not surprised when a ticket turned up in the mail nearly a month later. It contained ONE photo. I contested and took it to court, to discover the "court costs up-front" policy mentioned above... I demanded to see the second photo, as the camera clearly and obviously took two. The state clerks were very cagey about this, first claiming it was "not necessary" and then claiming it "didn't exist," there was only one photo. To his credit, the judge pointed out that it was the law to present both photos, and he would decide what was bloody well "necessary" for the proceedings. The second photo was produced... Showing my car in exactly the same position, stopped well behind the white line, as it was in the first photo. Oops! In this case, clearly there was some human oversight which decided to lie about the evidence.

    No one from the state was punished. I got out of the ticket (obviously) but it took them nearly four months to return my court costs.

    Story #3: A friend of mine, who is somewhat cheeky, reported getting out of his automated camera-ticket by demanding to confront his accuser. As there was no paper trail as to who (if anyone) reviewed the ticket or entered the complaint to the court, the case was dropped. (This is why when a cop writes you a ticket it has a lot of flowey language to the effect of "I, [name of officer] do duly swear under oath of perjury that I observed, etc., etc." The cop is acting as your accuser, and entering the charge as TESTIMONY to the court, which is important. A camera can not testify, only a person can testify about what the camera captured.) I imagine this loophole will be legislated around as soon as someone tries it in every state.

  • by hobo sapiens ( 893427 ) <ELIOT minus poet> on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:54PM (#31826034) Journal

    you're taking a lot of heat for your post, but I have to thank you! I just paid my $100 to the city of STL for the same thing. I actually debated it back and forth quite a bit, and ended up paying it because I don't have a lawyer for a spouse.

    I made a right turn on red at manchester and kingshighway. I did not stop. Why? Because I didn't know that was the law. In MO, it's legal to make a right on red unless a sign prohibits this. I googled for the traffic code, and what I found was appalling: full stop on red is required before making a right, and this was added in the same bit of the traffic code that added the provisions for red light cameras. So the city criminalized formerly legitimate behavior, banking on the general populace's ignorance of this change, all for profit.

    I made the right without a stop. But I didn't know the law had changed. What, am I and other motorists supposed to know where to find changes to the traffic laws and know when they change? Preposterous. The law is out of reach of the common man, and this is precisely what these evil corporations who set up the lights are banking on. Had I blatantly run a red light, I'd shut up and pay. But here the law is dubious.

    I read that they are issuing arrest warrants for failure to pay. On one hand, if they were to arrest my wife, I'd hire a lawyer and sue them for false arrest (because she was not the driver at the time). On the other hand, my wife might be arrested while driving, so that's ultimately why I grit my teeth and paid up. There is a class action lawsuit against the city. I wonder how I could become a party to this? http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2010/02/plaintiffs_seek_class_action_lawsuit_against_st_louis_red_light_cameras.php?page=2 [riverfronttimes.com]

    The biggest problem I have is that the red light companies have a share in the revenue and thus have a vested interest in "convincing" the city to play by their rules. So you are basically getting buttraped by some corporation and since the government has a share in the profit they fail to protect citizens against this tyranny. It's becoming a new form of oligarchy, or more precisely, corporatocracy.

  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:24PM (#31826344) Homepage Journal

    People breaking the law and potentially causing accidents is a far worse offense than my attitude.

    They're not breaking the law. Entering the intersection to await a chance to turn left is not illegal in many jurisdictions. NJ with its jughandles and prohibited left turns off arterials is unusual - and, you're right, better for it. But it is unusual, and the rest of us do not have that option. It is perfectly safe to enter an intersection in order to await the chance to turn, so long as you wait until all oncoming traffic stops before proceeding.

  • I they don't, they will eat all the repair costs and liability, and you will usually survive the collision with nothing worse than a stiff neck.

    And time lost in bureaucratic runaround. Lots and lots of runaround. Unless you're deliberately looking for a really big settlement, it ain't worth it. I once swerved to avoid a Pepsi truck that ran a stop sign--a potential accident that could have set me up for life without major injury (wasn't going that fast), and I'm still not sure it would have been worth it.

    Most states have a provision for "can stop safely", so you're well within the law to avoid slamming on the breaks on a yellow.

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:21AM (#31827286) Journal

    There would be no danger at all were vehicles to keep their proper couple seconds of spacing when headed down the roads.

    Ah, the "two-second interval". What a charming fantasy. Do you know what the two-second interval is? It's about 5 carlengths in front of me, in the process of being promptly filled in by 4.5 clueless asshats who want into my lane. (The half-asshat is looking at the remaining fractional carlength speculatively. He'd go for it if his insurance wasn't already on the verge of cancellation.)

    Ultimately you can't fix stupid, but you can give people the best chance possible of walking away from the accident alive and in one piece.

    We try, but I think those two goals are mutually exclusive. Stupid should be fatal.

  • by neghvar1 ( 1705616 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:39AM (#31827428)
    this depends what state you live in, but I live in Texas and in Texas, anyone who does data analysis in required to have a private investigator's license. Technically, you doing a malware scan on your system and selecting to clean the results of the scan is illegal. By the law, removal of malware is data analysis and requires a private investigators license. Now here is how this can be applied to a ticket due to a red light cam. The picture is taken by a digital camera and the picture is received. Someone analyzes/views the photo and determines it to be a red light run. If that person does not have a private investigator's license, that evidence is invalid and cannot legally be used in court So if you receive a ticket due to a red light cam, check your state and local laws to see if there are any such requirements and you could manage to get out of that ticket
  • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:59AM (#31827538)
    The judge takes the evidence that is presented and passes judgment. All those cameras also have video recorders, which can be requested by the defendant as evidence (it says so right on the ticket in Arizona .. you have 30 days before it is deleted). The cameras may issue tickets, but it is up to the DAs office to decide whether or not to prosecute. Police arrest, DAs prosecute and call police as witnesses or anyone else they deem to be an 'expert' on the evidence to be presented, and judges adjudicate. Cameras gather evidence, they don't press charges. They are not much different from a security camera catching someone breaking into a building at the same time a robbery took place, except a computer does the initial analysis instead of a person.

    So yes .. if the DA decides to prosecute, it is up to the defendant to go to court and prove they are not guilty because the DA is going to try and prove they are guilty. If the defendant doesn't do that, then all the judge has to look at is evidence that says they are guilty, because that's all the DA will offer up.

    ANYONE can request charges be filed against anyone for speeding or running a red light or reckless driving IF they can prove it, there doesn't even have to be a police officer witnessing it. You just have to convince the DAs office there is enough evidence or witnesses to support the claim. So all those idiots out there saying 'you can't take a camera to court' are just full of bullshit. Anyone can file charges, and anyone can present evidence.

    It's the way it has worked for a couple of hundred years around here. The type of evidence has changed, but the proceedings really haven't changed all that much.
  • by Dwarfgoat ( 472356 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @01:16AM (#31827602) Homepage

    As I was taught in Drivers Ed here in VA (and then reinforced several years later at a *ahem* mandatory driver improvement course), the solid section of lane markings leading up to the stop line is supposed to be painted to such a length that when you are going the speed limit, if you are within the solid section of line as the light turns yellow, you will have time to clear the intersection before red.

    Now the downside of this is that to deal with ever changing traffic and congestion, light timing is tweaked constantly, resulting in lights that go red way before the painted lines indicate they should.

    I received a red light ticket for just this reason once when I was in college (pulled over, not via camera). I tried to explain this line length thing to the arresting officer, but he was having none of it. Fortuitously, my little sister was still in high school, and was taking drivers ed at that time. I borrowed her drivers ed book and took it into court with me. When I showed the judge the paragraph explaining that this is how—according to the book—intersections ALWAYS are configured (obviously not really true in the real world) he was rather flummoxed (as was the cop who ticketed me). They had no idea that everyone was being taught this (whether it was valid information or not). Because of it, my ticket got dismissed. I suspect everyone else in court for red light offenses that session tried to use the same defense after I was done (no idea, 'cause I was focused on just getting the hell away from there before they changed their minds!)

    As far as I know, they're STILL teaching that the solid lines denote the "safe area" you can keep going through the yellow.

  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @01:45AM (#31827766)
    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.

    But it's a f**king private contractor that will be getting the money. Why should he be paying money to a private contractor for an illegal right turn???

  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:57AM (#31828484)

    True, however you're supposed to stop when the light turns yellow unless you can't do so safely. The yellow light is just meant as a margin of error before the traffic starts going in the other direction. You're most certainly not supposed to count on the length of the yellow to clear the intersection before the red light.

    So why remove the margin of error by having the yellow light too short?

    And unexpected things can still happen while crossing the intersection. I recently spoke to someone who ended up in the following conundrum: at an intersection (that had a red-light camera), he drove through a green light when the car in front of him suddenly braked. The guy I spoke to braked too, and came to a stop just after the line. By the time he could continue, his light had turned red (no idea if he could see that or if he just assumed it). He was standing in a dangerous location, so he couldn't remain where he was. If he crossed the intersection, he'd probably get fined by the red-light camera. With nobody behind him, he decided to reverse until he was standing in front of the traffic light again. Camera takes a picture, he gets a fine, he complains about the fine, arguing that he was driving backwards to get in a safe position after an emergency brake, and the photo should show his white read lights, proving his point. His appeal was denied, so he'd have to go to court to avoid the fine. He decided to pay anyway.

    So what do you do in a situation like that? Always wait until the intersection is completely clear before you start to cross? That's going to hold up traffic a bit too much at busy intersections. The stupid thing about the situation is: if he'd stayed at the dangerous location, he wouldn't have been fined. He tries to make the situation safer, and he gets punished for it.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @04:48AM (#31828702)
    I like reading all these complaints about revenue raising. They usually precede complaints about lack of decent roads and utilities. Roads don't magic their way onto the ground, the money needs to come from somewhere. What you are complaining about is a 100% voluntary tax which you are obliged to pay for simply not following basic road rules.
  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @09:02AM (#31830366)

    By observing oncoming traffic and being aware of the capabilities or your vehicle and patient enough to wait for an appropriate opening, if you can't do those get off the road you are not fit to drive.

    Actuall you're the one likely unfit to drive. Plenty of places have poor visibility. If turning left is a problem, they should disallow left turns at said intersections. You also might have days to get where you're going, those of us with jobs do not. Oh, and by NOT going you're making traffic back up behind you, which can cause other big problems.

    Like I said, you've never driven in a city.

    Because you are parking in an intersection!

    No, no one is putting their car into park and turning off the engine.

    Since you're all about safety though, why is it ok for cars which now have a green light to enter the intersection while there is still a car trying to clear it? If you were being consistent, you'd argue this, but then it removes your claim that there's some danger involved. There is, but only if a dumbass floors it into the intersection without making sure its clear to go anyway.

    And when oncoming has a left turn signal at the end of the green cycle for them? And there are more complicated intersections and light cycles than that.

    It blocks people who know have a left turn arrow, just like people that would be going straight. In other words, there's no difference... people with green should wait for the intersection to clear as well, shouldn't they?

  • by Zero_DgZ ( 1047348 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @10:43AM (#31831650)

    That's an interesting point, but a traffic ticket generally isn't regarded as a criminal offense (except I guess DUI stuff, but that's a whole 'nother league) and there is no incentive to keep yourself out of a holding cell until your court date.

    If you are arrested for anything else under the sun you are not REQUIRED to pay anything just to get the case to court. If you want your ticket to go before a judge for any reason you are required to pay the state money, up front, that they will be slow in returning (if they ever do). If you go to court for any other reason that is NOT a flagrant revenue grab by the state, standing before a judge is free.

    It may be legal with enough lawyerific wrangling, but it's still not kosher, right, or even vaguely legitimate.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian