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Tennessee Town Releases Red Light Camera Stats 567

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 Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:10PM (#33061814) Journal

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

    Do the cameras actually show the light in the picture? Are the cameras positioned so you can actually tell if the vehicle is over the line or not?

    If the camera doesn't show that the light is red, how do you know that the light isn't malfunctioning and taking the picture while yellow or green?
    If you can't see whether you're over the line or not, how do you know that you actually ran it?

    I drive through several of these things every evening on my way home. I've never seen one flash while the light is green or yellow, but I get flashed by them all the time while I'm coming to stop at a red light (I've seen them go off in the middle of a red light when nobody's even moving). I guess someone must review the picture to make sure the car photographed is actually in the intersection because I've never gotten a ticket.

  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:11PM (#33061818) Homepage Journal

    Especially now that people text while driving, it's probably a good thing that we're bringing automation to bear on traffic problems.

    They could do more to prevent problems than to catch people after the fact, I think. They're able to drop crossing guards on railroad tracks and tollbooths; why not set them up at every practical intersection as well? There's some good talk out there about adding a breath test to the steering columns of every vehicle, but how about in-car interference of the cellphone frequency?

    I think we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg on what can be done here to ensure safety.

  • I wonder how many... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:13PM (#33061848) Homepage Journal

    were cops?

    I'm not sure about Tennessee, but in my small town, the local cops treat most laws or the road with little regard. Rolling stops, speeding, high speed/reckless driving. Heck, I had to file a complaint one evening after a cop damn near ran into a group of young boys walking down the side walk. Apparently, pulling over to the curb and calling them to the car, or getting out and approaching them were the lesser options when compared to flooring it and jumping the curb to park on some company's apron to block the side walk. His excuse was that someone had reported their teen daughter missing and the officer thought the boys might know where she was.

    Or heck, when I was working 3rd shift years ago, we used to have two squad cars that would run 1/8th mile laps around the block in front of my work place. They would turn on the lights, but no sirens, then scream up and down the divided business road.

    Just last night on the drive home I saw a cop come to a complete stop and make a 7 point turn IN THE MIDDLE OF A BRIDGE, blocking traffic in both directions on a 55mph high way during rush hour. If he had driven 100 feet, he could have pulled into a country lane and done his turn faster and with out obstructing any traffic.

    Then again, I guess if you can just brush away any pics of cops blowing lights due to 'technical issues', there won't be many of them getting tickets.


  • by rtaylor ( 70602 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:13PM (#33061854) Homepage

    The stats for some of my cities intersections clearly show a decrease in the T-Bones and an increase in rear-endings. Stats are not public.

    If you believe T-Bones are the more fatal of the two, then the trade-off is likely appropriate. Note, light timing did not change and there are 100+ intersections with camera boxes but only a handful actually have a camera installed (randomly rotated).

  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpno-co.oLISPrg minus language> on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:19PM (#33061932) Homepage

    Merge stop and yield? That's one of those ideas that sound awesome, until you consider that people will be involved.

    We are just getting round abouts where I live, and people are constantly stopping at those things when no one is there, or trying to go even though they don't have the right away.

    People are idiots, and couldn't handle such a suggestion.

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

    by schon ( 31600 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:19PM (#33061934)

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

    A better idea is to keep the yellow the same duration, and install a countdown timer: 20 seconds before the light turns yellow show a countdown to the yellow light.

    They've been installed in my city at a few intersections - they were originally intended for pedestrian signals, but they work *really* well for drivers - it tells you exactly how much time you have to make the light, and you can start slowing down earlier.

  • by kehren77 ( 814078 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:21PM (#33061964)

    Okay, I'm not advocating the complete running of stop signs or traffic lights. I'm saying that rolling stops for stops signs (ie you get to the stop sign, make sure nothing is coming and continue on before your vehicle has come to a complete stop) aren't a big deal.

    Just down the road from me there was a 3 way intersection that was cut down to a straight through road. But they left the stops signs up as a way of slowing traffic through that area. That sort of crap shouldn't happen and people definitely shouldn't be ticketed for doing a rolling stop in that location.

  • by Skjellifetti ( 561341 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:24PM (#33062030) Journal
    My sister ran into a motorcycle cop while making a left turn where the normal left lane was blocked off - that's where the cop was driving. She was ticketed. But she went to court armed with a state law book that showed that what the cop did (driving in the blocked off lane) meant that he had forfeited the right-of-way. Judge tossed the ticket. You can beat them, but it takes work.
  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:29PM (#33062094) Homepage Journal
    If one photograph is all we need to prove guilt for all crimes, then with one copy of Photoshop and a few minutes, I can rule the world.
  • by twoallbeefpatties ( 615632 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:35PM (#33062156)
    The photograph IS the proof.

    I've gotten hit twice in the past year on making legal right-hand turns on red lights. The first one I thought it so obvious that I was making a legal right turn that I requested a hearing without my presence, figuring that the judge would get it. They still charged me. For the second one, I'm waiting to get my hearing date. Either way, I think that sometimes the "proof" can be logically disputed.
  • by wirehead_rick ( 308391 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:47PM (#33062306)

    This is just a simple way for localities to make up lost revenue for a decreasing tax base in an economic downturn. Speeding tickets are on the rise too.

    It's just another case of there are so many damn laws you can't help but break some everyday. It's just govt. doesn't choose to fine you until the coffers get low. They let you break the law (speeding and the such) so you get into the habit and then bam - crackdown! Instant revenue stream.

    My favorite way to get back is to absolutely refuse to turn right on red at any light with the cameras. I don't care how many people I piss off. I'll sit there all freakin' day long. If it's in your local municipality and you support the camera then you get to wait behind my paranoid ass. Serves ya right.

  • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @05:50PM (#33062368)

    I've been biking to work for 15 years. I assume every car is going to run every stop sign. I also assume that every intersection contains at least one car that is going to turn in front of me without signalling, slowing, or checking.

    Guess how many times I've been hit?

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

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:05PM (#33062576) Journal

    >>>have a hydraulic system that very quickly raises a heavy steel plate in front of the place where a car is expected to stop for the red light.

    That's great until you have an ambulance or firetruck that needs to get to an emergency in a hurry, and the metal places are blocking them. They have a similar idea (physical barriers) for railroad crossings but it often doesn't work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOnpYCQLCuY [youtube.com]

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

    by jemtallon ( 1125407 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:08PM (#33062612) Journal
    Actually, roundabouts have become very popular in my hometown (Fargo, ND) because they are much safer when roads are icy. At a 4-way stop or a traffic light, if your car slides it goes into traffic. Our roundabouts have a small hill in the middle so if the car slides it hits a curb and eventually some dirt to stop it. It's much safer. And most are designed to be beautiful as well as functional.
  • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@gm a i l .com> on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @07:11PM (#33063416)

    If the camera doesn't show that the light is red, how do you know that the light isn't malfunctioning and taking the picture while yellow or green?

    I can't speak for the US cameras, but they *should* be built with a physical connection that prevents the camera from activating unless the light is red.

    If you can't see whether you're over the line or not, how do you know that you actually ran it?

    Because they don't activate until the light is red. If your picture is taken by one, it's because you ran the red (more accurately, because you crossed the line after the light was red and the camera was activated) - it's not possible for the camera to take a picture otherwise because it's not active.

    Cameras take multiple pictures that are reviewed. Just stopping over the line probably won't net you a fine (thought it's usually illegal). You'll almost always need to be caught on multiple pictures actually driving through the intersection to get fined.

    It shouldn't take anyone of even average intelligence more than a few minutes to come up with a system that's immune to nearly every type of false positive. The handful of scenarios that can't be accounted for should be easily identifiable and defendable in court.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Posting=!Working ( 197779 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @07:54PM (#33063864)

    Walk up to the intersection wearing a hood and large sunglasses. Or shoot from a long distance, they're not using super-high resolution zoomable cameras. There's many other simple ways to get a paintball onto the camera without being noticed.

    Wipers don't wipe off paint too well (think bird poop and your windshield without washer fluid.) And you could always freeze the paintballs and take out the wiper (glass, lens, and maybe the whole camera.)

  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @10:54PM (#33064666) Homepage

    The thing that drives me nuts is that you aren't entitled to a trial by jury unless you're facing at least six months in prison on a single count. However, in civil trials either party is entitled to a trial by jury if the amount in dispute is over $20. So, you can put somebody in prison for 10 years by charging them with 30 counts with a sentence of 4 months per count and they don't get a jury trial. However, if you break your friend's video game you can drag them in front of a jury to duke it out.

    Does that seem just a little out of whack to anybody else? IMHO people should be entitled to a jury trial for any offence whatsoever. By all means have them pay a fee for the jury's time if they are found guilty (loser pays system), but maybe we'd have fewer silly 25mph speed zones if juries had to agree to the fines.

    Likewise the state should have to reimburse the accused for lost time when they're found innocent of a crime. These days simply being accused of a crime and having the gall to defend yourself is about all it takes to face financial ruin.

  • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @12:10PM (#33070430)

    Close. I've only been hit once, and that was by another bike.

    I take a fair bit of time tuning my bike and pay special attention to the brakes. I can stop from full speed (20-30km/h) in about a length - length and a half. Yep, that fast. The tires grip and the brakes have a hair trigger. (You want to talk contact patches?)

    I stopped dead cold when a car wasn't decelerating fast enough (there's a bike trail that has a few side-streets crossing it; there are stop signs for car traffic, but I trust them as far as I can throw them, and given that they are bolted to signposts that are cemented into the ground, that is "not at all") and I was rear-ended by a 90-pound woman on a road bike. She tacoed her front wheel and broke the clip for one of my lights. She was drafting behind me and didn't call out to let me know.

    I then accidentally ended up blinding her because when I turned to ask her if she was okay, I gave her 2W of Blaze [amazon.com] right in the eyes. (I call that light "The Intimidator"; you don't want to know about "Dr. Throw")

  • by MaufTarkie ( 6625 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @12:36PM (#33070912)

    That's why the recommend going to contest your tickets even if you are fully guilty - if the accusing officer does not bother to show up, you automatically get the ticket tossed.

    That's not always the case. I got issued a speeding ticket in Washington over a decade ago. I was given the same advice regarding the officer needing to be present, so I went to court to contest (since I felt I was simply matching the speed of everyone else on the freeway, but was singled out). When I got to court, I was informed by the judge that the ticket (and the writeup) was the only evidence needed; the accusing officer did not have to be present. He read the ticket out loud for the court, which included the other point I was going to bring up to try to weasel my way out of the ticket: if he calibrated his radar gun before and after his shift. He had.

    Luckily, the judge gave me a break and waved the ticket due to a paperwork technicality he could have kept to himself if he really wanted to.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?