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Transportation Government Technology

Out With the Red-Light Cameras, In With the Speeding Cameras 335

An anonymous reader writes: Have you enjoyed reading the constant flow of news about how red light cameras are failing? They've been installed under the shadow of corruption, they don't increase safety, and major cities are dropping them. Well, the good news is that red-light cameras are on the decline in the U.S. The bad news is that speeding cameras are on the rise. From the article: "The number of U.S. communities using red-light cameras has fallen 13 percent, to 469, since the end of 2012, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization funded by the insurance industry. That includes the 24 towns in New Jersey that participated in a pilot program that ended this month with no pending legislation to revive it. Meanwhile, the institute estimates that 137 communities use speed cameras, up from 115 at the end of 2011."
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Out With the Red-Light Cameras, In With the Speeding Cameras

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @12:16AM (#48702191)
    The summery and article seems to claim there is evidence that in some cases red light cameras don't increase safety, so they are bad, and moving to speed cameras is also bad. Is there some particular reason speed cameras are bad? Sure, people don't like tickets, but from a safety perspective, are they effective?
    • Are they good? No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @12:25AM (#48702237)

      Is there some particular reason speed cameras are bad?

      They are bad (or at least do no good) if they do not slow people down, even worse if they are well marked and do cause people to slow down - a rapid slowdown is often the cause of accidents (as we see with red light cameras) and even if there is not an accident it can create a huge wave of disruption for traffic behind due to a wave effect...

      If it's not doing any good, may cause harm, and just exists as an extra tax on the unwary then there's no point in having it.

      One other side effect that is not often thought about is that if there are a lot of speed camera around (like in the UK) there are fewer police actually patrolling and stopping people who are actually dangerous (server around other drivers, blocking the left lane, etc) or even just helping motorists with issues if the car has trouble.

      • by Imrik ( 148191 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @12:35AM (#48702277) Homepage

        Well marked cameras placed in areas where they belong are a good thing IMO. However, I often disagree with cities on where they belong. They should go in areas with a lot of accidents resulting from excess speed and in school zones. I could also see temporary ones being put up in construction zones. Unfortunately, cities typically place them to maximize revenue rather than to improve safety.

        • by GuldKalle ( 1065310 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @12:40AM (#48702299)

          If they are set up to maximize revenue, aren't they also in places where a lot of people are speeding? The motives might not line up, but the results do.

          • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @12:48AM (#48702349)

            If they are set up to maximize revenue, aren't they also in places where a lot of people are speeding?

            That means they are set were the speed most people feel comfortable driving is faster than the posted limit - in other words in places where the limit is wrong, as on average drivers pick a reasonable speed. If you have a lot of people speeding in an area, the limit needs to change - not the people.

            The exceptions are places like school zones where there are good reasons why people should be traveling slower than the road allows for.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Speed limits should be based on science, not on, "Whatever speed the driver feels is safe enough."

              • by Amouth ( 879122 )

                Agreed, it should be based on a risk/value assessment.

                Sadly right now they are "made up" by people who do not have the ability to preform such an assessment.

                Note: i know there are traffic engineers who can do this, and every place has them and every place has "standards". But do recognize that said standards are anything but when you look at the whole nation (along with very rarely getting reviewed/updated), and ultimately what gets turned into laws is what politicians want not what Engineers say it should

              • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @04:13AM (#48703135) Homepage Journal

                Studies have shown that on average drivers will go the safe speed (as determined by the best practices of traffic engineering) for conditions regardless of the posted limit. In that sense, looking at the average speed is a scientific determination.

              • If you're going to be using "science", then a good first step would be investigating the correlation of accidents and speed. Speed by itself is not a reliable indicator of the recklessness of the driver.

                I'd prefer more intelligent sensors/cameras that penalise aggressive acceleration (i.e. sudden rate of change of speed in close proximity of other road users) or can detect lack of awareness of the driver.
              • The science often does boil down to measuring the average speed. It's not really practical to do an assessment for every mile of tarmac out there.

                Here [abd.org.uk] is a good read. It's about preventing accidents generally, but the author makes a few good points about those times when road saftey policy is decided with no real consideration of how people should drive or how they actually do.

              • by kbdd ( 823155 )
                "Speed limits should be based on science, not on, "Whatever speed the driver feels is safe enough.""

                Exactly, that's why roads should be designed so that people are safe travelling at a speed that feels right, no some artificial limit that may not be intuitive.

                Of course, there may be temporal exceptions such as school zone and road work.

                If roads were designed scientifically, there should be no need to look at a sign to know what is a safe speed.

                Problems come up when the speed limit is not intuitive a

            • by GNious ( 953874 )

              If you think the speed-limit is wrong for a given location, use the next election cycle to vote in someone that will change the limit, instead of start speeding.

              • what country do you live on that any normal person can actually affect speed limits? Most in the US are set by various engineers based on road width, location, number of connections, etc. There is no one to petition, it's all set by various Department of Transportation people. There is no "vote", it's mostly a math formula. Go read this... [motorists.org]

                In 1966, Congress passed a law that required all traffic control devices on public roadways in the nation be based on sound engineering principles, practices and hav
          • Places where speed causes accidents is a very small subset of places where people speed. If the cameras cause all places where people speed to become places where they break suddenly and cause accidents, then they hurt far more than they help.

            • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @07:11AM (#48703691) Homepage Journal

              Speed doesn't just cause accidents, it exacerbates them. Speed limits aren't there just to prevent accidents, but to make them less serious. Speed limits on highways without a divider are commonly 55 while divided is 65 because a collision at 55 is far more survivable than 65. Obviously, in a full-speed head-on, you die either way, but since it would require dropping the speed limit to something that would cause the road to clog due to lack of throughput, they don't account for that.

              • A lack of speed also causes accidents. When the speed limit is below what most people are comfortable driving at, then the person obeying the speed limit suddenly becomes a road hazard.
          • If they are set up to maximize revenue, aren't they also in places where a lot of people are speeding?

            "Places where a lot of people are speeding" != "places with lots of accidents".

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            Places like the bottom of hills where most people are going in access of the speed limit at the bottom but coast back to the speed limit fairly quickly.
            There's a bad one I drive regularly, 4 lane divided highway with overpasses, basically a bypass that goes up and down a big hill and when going down the speed limit goes from 80 to 50 km/h about a mile and a half before the light at the end of the road. Everyone slows down at the bottom of the hill on the approach to the light as it is a very safe stretch of

          • by Amouth ( 879122 )

            Not really, take open freeway types of places. a great example of this is the Atlanta Beltway where you have a road built for much higher speeds limited to 55 mph.

            a great video to see what happens when someone actually makes people follow that speed limit

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

            And trust me that there are plenty of examples of this. Personally I've driven in many states on the same conditions of roadways with varying speed limits from 55 (GA) -> 75 (TX) and honestly people don't want to go s

        • Some of those construction zones are there for months on end and with no workers for days at a time. I know I don't always have the patience to deal with ridiculous impositions, but at least with self-driving cars on the horizon, it won't matter for long.
          • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @01:46AM (#48702601) Journal

            Some of those construction zones are there for months on end and with no workers for days at a time.

            There was a stretch of road that I occasionally travelled in the UK, where it had an average speed check (with a low limit) because of road work for, I think, over a year, while just next to this public road is a nice, mostly empty, private toll road. I never saw any work taking place on this public road. I wonder how much the "road work" increased revenue for the toll road.

            Years later, after the work has been finished, the speed limit on the public road is 10 mph below that of comparable roads.

        • by Aereus ( 1042228 )

          The problem with the school zone ones are, they obnoxiously are active well outside of school hours, weekends, and holidays. Some are reasonable with allowing 5mph before they go into alert status. Some in the area go to "high alert" with even 1mph over the speed limit -- speed numbers in red with strobing red and white blinking lights around it. Even at 2am. On a Saturday.

    • Basically just fining people doesn't help.

      The logical conclusion here isn't that red light cameras and speed cameras are ineffective, it's that the punishment for them is ineffective. But since TFA has a bias about wanting to speed and endanger the lives of everyone around him so he can get somewhere a few minutes faster, he has to form irrational conclusions that because the cameras aren't working, the whole policy is stupid and should be forgotten, rather than just its implementation.

      Imagine if we applie

      • Because the speed limits *totally* wouldn't creep downward as revenue drops, when people start watching their speed closer. The motivation for governments putting up speed cameras isn't safety, it's income, pure and simple.

        Don't break the law if you don't wish to have your license revoked, it's basically that simple.

        If they revoke my license, I still need to get to work, because my family and I like eating and living in a nice home. I'll just be driving without a license and praying not to get caught. The world isn't as simple as you're making it out to be. Imagine if we applied that same logic to pr

        • Because the speed limits *totally* wouldn't creep downward as revenue drops, when people start watching their speed closer. The motivation for governments putting up speed cameras isn't safety, it's income, pure and simple.

          Speed limits need to be tied to scientific methodology on what should be the best speed. In a democracy it lies to the citizens to advocate such a change.

          If they revoke my license, I still need to get to work, because my family and I like eating and living in a nice home. I'll just be driving without a license and praying not to get caught. The world isn't as simple as you're making it out to be. Imagine if we applied that same logic to programming, after all. "To write perfect software, don't introduce bugs, it's basically that simple."

          Yes, you do. And you're going to have to find another way to do it. By that time society will have given you plenty of warning that your behavior is unacceptable, so because of repeated conscious decision to put others at risk, you cannot be trusted and your privileges are revoked. The consequences are a result of your own actions and despite of any ob

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Yes, Self righteous ass-hats that believe they have a god given right to speed.
      Speeding on the open highway? go ahead, but the people that blow through a residential neighborhood at 35 need to be dragged from the cars and beaten.

      It's those people that dont like speed cameras.

      I personally want speed bumps in neighborhoods and speed cameras at construction zones. Because speed bumps force the low IQ drivers to actually slow down or become comicial entertainment to watch.

      • I personally want speed bumps in neighborhoods and speed cameras at construction zones. Because speed bumps force the low IQ drivers to actually slow down or become comicial entertainment to watch.

        Speed bumps just lead to more purchases of CUVs, which are too tall to see over, too low to see under, and too cluttered to see through. But they go over speed bumps real fast. Then the speed bumps just become something which decreases traction. Speed bumps are a bad idea.

        How about you just move someplace that isn't becoming urban? Because traffic is a fact of modern cities.

    • I think you could make an argument for speed enforcement cameras provided that the logic of where to place them was safety data driven -- ie, you have solid numbers that show that a specific stretch of road has a high number of speed-related accidents.

      I don't think that's how it works, though, I think like squad-car based speed traps they tend to get placed in locations where a higher number of people may get cited because people naturally tend to drive over the speed limit due to the nature of the roadway

  • Oh noes! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

    Oh no! Bad news is that speeding cameras are increasing. Now we'll actually catch people who are breaking the law. What will they do. Those poor souls.

    Yes I'm trolling but I have an honest question for you. What makes you decide it's okay to break the law and then complain about the judicial system's ability to identify that you did? If you have something against the law in question then simply breaking it is unlikely to be the way to get it changed, and at worst quite silly if you complain about subsequent

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iggymanz ( 596061 )

      drive the speed limit on one of the major tollways in IL and then ask your question again after you get shaken up by a few near rear endings, those jake-braking truckers laying on their horns coming up to your trunk should do it. I'd rather be safe, thank you.

      • I got a ticket doing 65 in the left-most lane; Reason: Car coming up behind me had to break.
        It's an enforcable law in most states, that left lane is for active passing only.
        More so in Utah, apparently.

        • In Australia, if a cop sees you cruising in the overtaking (passing) lane, he will pull you over, and he will ticket you for it.

      • Ahh right! Got it. I'll break the law because someone else is breaking a different law?

        Truly sir you are a perfect example of a great mind fit for a functioning modern society.

        Not.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Not a problem I drive the speed limit on I-80 all the time through IL and then drive the speed limit on 55 down to normal. Works perfectly fine.

    • It depends... (Score:3, Insightful)

      We are all guilty of three felonies a day (google it), and traffic laws (not all laws) are in place to keep us safe... when appropriate.

      The problem with automated speeding tickets is that, many times (i.e. no other traffic) there is no safety issue to speeding.

      Sounds like another money grab for the overpaid government employee system.
      • Re:It depends... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Imrik ( 148191 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @12:39AM (#48702295) Homepage

        All google returns is a book that suggests that we are all guilty of three felonies a day and other results based on the book. Other than giving money to the author for his sensationalist title I can't find any way to verify whether this is true.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        Sounds like another money grab for the overpaid government employee system.

        Hah hah hah hah!

        Oh, wait, you're serious...

        Let me enlighten you as to how this works. Municipality or jurisdiction listens to sales pitch from a company like Redflex or American Traffic Systems. The company promises a system that will be installed and maintained entirely by them, with the company forwarding the collected data to the city traffic enforcement (sometimes part of the police department, sometimes independent), s

        • In my city they went with the option of the company simply sending you an invoice for traffic and parking tickets. An administrative 'judge' can be appealed to but decides only in favor of the company. Since it's not a fine but an administrative fee, you can't get it in a regular court, but if you don't pay it you still lose your license.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

        We are all guilty of three felonies a day (google it), and traffic laws (not all laws) are in place to keep us safe... when appropriate.

        We are typically guilty of three felonies a day due to ignorance, not due to wilful disregard.

        The problem with automated speeding tickets is that, many times (i.e. no other traffic) there is no safety issue to speeding.

        And you're the best judge for a maximum safe speed of a road? What about some 16 year old kid coming up behind you with no experience? Are you fully aware of your surroundings at all times? Do two identical looking roads have the same chance of someone running out, or you coming in contact with an animal? Nearly always the speed limits are set on common standards for safety, those standards taking into account many

        • Nearly always the speed limits are set on common standards for safety, those standards taking into account many things including the fact that not all drivers are graced with your powers of risk assessment.

          I'm glad the common standards for safety make it safe to do 65 on the Turnpike both in mid summer at 90 degrees and in light snow sub-32.

          You can espouse the benefits of common safety standards all you want, but the Turnpike, along with most other interstates, was designed for near 100mph speeds (if not exceeding that) when no traffic is present in good weather with a capable car, and using "common safety standards" as your excuse for the government screwing you is a farce unless they're actually changing th

        • Regarding the drivers being the judge of what's considered safe, some states (including mine) have prima facie speed limits [wikipedia.org], which basically means that drivers can defend themselves in court for driving in excess of the posted speed limit by demonstrating that doing so was reasonable (i.e. that they weren't unsafe). More or less, what's considered illegal is the act of driving at unreasonable speeds, rather than the act of driving above the speed limit.

          Related to that, I've actually heard some third- and f

      • We are all guilty of three felonies a day (google it), and traffic laws (not all laws) are in place to keep us safe... when appropriate.

        The problem with automated speeding tickets is that, many times (i.e. no other traffic) there is no safety issue to speeding.

        Sounds like another money grab for the overpaid government employee system.

        The summary makes it sound like photo radar is fairly new/uncommon in the US. Is this really the case? They seem to have been everywhere in Canada for a few years.

        Everybody hates a ticket and photo radar is unpopular as a result, and while there are a few instances of abuse the general arguments against them feel like rationalizations.

        What happens if a dog runs into the road? What about the part where you inevitably start expanding the limits of what defines "no traffic" and "safe to speed"?

        Photo radar is a

      • Absolutely. Speed limits are kept artificially low in most jurisdictions.

        I have a highway near me with a limit of 65. In clear weather it's common to be doing 70 in the slow lane and have almost everyone pass you cursing that you're holding up traffic.

        If they want to use cameras, I'm all for it. But they should be clearly marked and also set to only give out tickets when people are in the reckless driving speeds (15 miles over the limit?).

      • The problem with automated speeding tickets is that, many times (i.e. no other traffic) there is no safety issue to speeding.

        Look, I like to go fast, but there is never a time when there is no safety issue to speeding. NONE. More speed means, after eliding a lot of stuff relevant to you, more chance that the locality, city, state, etc. will have to spend some money on you. Whether you fail, someone else around you fails, or some equipment fails, speed exacerbates all of these situations.

        There is just no way in which you can rationally claim that there is no safety issue to speeding, ever. There always is. Period, the end. You can

    • The law is neither perfect nor pure. Otherwise, why not have the penalty for a violation be death? But we recognize that some illegal acts are not serious problems, may be wrongly blamed on an innocent, or recognized as not criminal at some later date, and that where there are these doubts it is wise to have relatively light penalties.

      Corruption is a big problem-- it's just too easy for a powerful business interest to bribe politicians to enact favorable legislation that is against the public interest a

    • Re:Oh noes! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @03:12AM (#48702915)

      Traffic laws don't exist for their own sake. Their primary purpose, above all else, is to keep drivers safe. Likewise, the entire purpose of fining someone is to encourage safe driving behavior (the only ticket I've ever received even said so right on it). Most importantly, no one should have to choose between being safe and being fined for breaking the law, nor should there be automated systems put in place that exacerbate the problem by fining drivers for safe driving habits.

      Take, for instance, Interstate 10 through Houston. It's well-marked, Its lanes are wide, its lines of sight are clear, its curves are gradual, and its traffic (usually) moves at a brisk pace since the road was designed to run at around 70 mph, yet its speed limit is 10 mph beneath that for reasons unrelated to safety (i.e. city ordinances related to smog). As you might imagine, the speed limits along I-10 are routinely ignored by the vast majority of drivers, since the roads were designed for higher speeds, yet some drivers take it on themselves to impede the flow of traffic by going 10-20 mph below everyone around them, simply because that's what the speed limit sign says. The inevitable result is a less safe road for everyone as the other drivers are forced to react to the obstruction in their path.

      In fact, I-10's speed limits are so out of whack with what makes sense that Wikipedia even details the changes to its speed limits over the years [wikipedia.org] on the other side of Texas as a paradigmatic example of the arbitrariness of speed limits.

      Besides the validity of the limits themselves, there's also the question of whether or not policing them with stationary sentinels creates a safer road. One unsafe driving habit that's common in many areas is slamming on brakes at the top of a hill because drivers have been trained to assume that there's an overzealous cop with a radar gun on the other side, waiting to chase down anyone foolish enough to go even a fraction above the speed limit. If speed traps are causing that response, are they serving the public good? Hell no! In fact, just a few weeks ago I saw an accident and was in a near-collision myself because of exactly that driving habit.

      At least with cops, many of them understand the distinction between "legal" and "safe" and know that these laws are intended to serve public safety, so they'll ignore someone safely driving with traffic at a speed that's technically breaking the law. I'll routinely see good cops like those going 10-20 mph over the posted speed limit, along with the rest of traffic. A speeding camera, however? At best, it'll determine the average speed of traffic and will pick out the outliers. But who are we kidding? In practice, these will be configured to get people who go X over the speed limit, where X is some value between 0 and whatever is far enough above the limit that the politicians don't have to deal with a public outcry. They're little more than automated versions of the worst kind of cop.

      They aren't keeping drivers safe. They're just keeping us in line.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        There is also the widespread issue of faulty cameras. I was recently "caught" by one and am now going to have to go to court to prove that it was broken. Fortunately I have my own camera in my car, and using the video to do a simply distance/time calculation I can show that I was under the speed limit. Most people don't have their own evidence though, they just pay up.

        Even when I win in court, there is no real loss for the police who screwed up here. All the other motorists who were caught by the faulty cam

      • Traffic laws don't exist for their own sake. Their primary purpose, above all else, is to keep drivers safe.

        Look, we'd like to believe that, but we know that some of them are bullshit and they're only used to make money. Even the ones which could keep people safe are horribly unevenly enforced. For example, California has a law against riding in the passing lane when someone else wants to use it, regardless of speed, yet I have watched countless cops come up behind someone in the fast lane, slow down, then go around them. That's an easy ticket if they just flip on the front end camera before it happens, but they

    • Re:Oh noes! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @03:58AM (#48703053) Journal

      In Australia we have a 3km/hr threshold on speeding fines.
      In a 100km/hr area, doing 104km will net you a 160$ fine.

      Conversion for the Americans, doing 64.62m/hr in a 62m/hr zone will cost you 132$ US
      That's only 4% faster than the posted limit.

      We also have a demerit point system, you can lose 1/3/6 or all 12 points depending how much more than the limit you were doing.
      On public holidays, Christmas and certain 'seasons' of the year where they want to make for 'nice holidays' - the demerit points and the fines are doubled.
      Penalties listed here
      http://www.arrivealive.vic.gov... [vic.gov.au] [vic.gov.au]

      I don't have a major issue with speeding fines in general, I have a major issue with 'permanent' speeding cameras which send you a letter for speeding, a week after you were speeding. If it's such a genuine offense, dangerous to others and yourself -then surely an officer should pull you over and explain the situation, perhaps your speedo is out? Perhaps you're in a bad mood and a warning (and fine?) will bring you back to reality.
      A letter in the mail does no such thing, it's a pure tax days after the offense occurred.

      In fact, our threshold of getting a fine was around 10km/hr around 8 to 10 years ago but when people got so sick of paying fines thanks to permanent cameras, they stopped speeding so much. So they reduced the threshold to this low 3km/hr due to the government 'losing revenue'

      An interesting story is a tunnel which was built around a decade ago which went underneath a river, the tunnel has multiple speed cameras in it which no one knew about, this new tunnel was extremely convenient and was heavily used in it's opening month. Thousands upon thousands of people used it daily not knowing about the cameras inside the tunnel.
      The speeding fine system was so overloaded from all the tickets to be sent to people that the delay was up to 30 days before receiving the fine (and demerit points) in the mail.
      There are many stories of people opening their mail a month after the tunnel opened to get a letter with a fine.
      Then the next day, the opened their mail to get a letter with a fine.
      Then the next day (you see where this is going) people lost their licenses and had thousands of dollars in fines, clearly their incredibly dangerous behaviour which should be stopped immediately was ok to be allowed to continue for a month...

      We also have a default speed limit for suburban areas, which was 60km/hr if no speed was posted, this too was dropped to 50km/hr in the state, making drivers trip duration longer, yet the vast majority of fatalities are not at this speed. I personally recall when this was introduced, (near the same time as the 3km/hr threshold) that I found myself looking at my speedometer almost religiously, so worried about getting a fine it was becoming a distraction to driving.

      I've also been told of a perm speed camera installation in New South Wales (NSW) in an area where NO ACCIDENTS HAVE OCCURRED - a camera was put at the bottom of a large 'dip' on a large highway (no oncoming traffic) Many trucks and vehicles opted to 'speed up' for inertia to get up the other side of this large hilly area, it's significantly easier on the motor, fuel economy etc. Yet a camera was installed here to catch people speeding up.

      Finally you can also see statistics on how significantly better the road toll is here.
      http://www.infrastructure.gov.... [infrastructure.gov.au] [infrastructure.gov.au]
      We've got more people on the road than ever, yet an incredibly low road toll, none the less for the sake of "safety" fines consistently are going up.

      Consider yourselves lucky over there just how few speeding fines are actually issued and also how relatively easy it is to get out of them, over here it's near on impossible to get out of one.

    • Oh no! Bad news is that speeding cameras are increasing. Now we'll actually catch people who are breaking the law. What will they do. Those poor souls.

      Yes I'm trolling but I have an honest question for you. What makes you decide it's okay to break the law and then complain about the judicial system's ability to identify that you did? If you have something against the law in question then simply breaking it is unlikely to be the way to get it changed, and at worst quite silly if you complain about subsequently getting caught.

      It's one of the few 100% voluntary taxes. You chose to pay it.

      Bull. The moment you link income to victimless crimes, you create an adversarial relationship between the police and the public.

      In this case in particular, you create a culture where it is tangibly to the police department's benefit to arrange that speed limits are set artificially low, where drivers will be likely to speed. In such a case, there's no safety benefit, only a cash benefit to the police.

      Now, if these were mandated that they could only ever be used at spots where there were $RandomSensib

    • Re:Oh noes! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kernel Kurtz ( 182424 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @02:50PM (#48706969) Homepage
      The best way to remove the tax grab aspect is to always plead not guilty to any traffic tickets. You are (at least around here) entitled to your day in court. Even if you know you are guilty, taking up court time and having someone come and testify against you makes your case almost always a money losing proposition for the government.

      The more people who fight their tickets the more money the government loses. If everyone opted for their day in court, tickets would only be handed out for actual safety reasons, since enforcement would cost money rather than raising it.
  • In Massachusetts, tickets cannot be automatically issued by use of red light cameras (a cop has to issue the ticket), which means all of the cameras on light posts, installed at fair expense, are pretty much meaningless. Speeding cameras probably fall under the same law.

    Not that we don't need to enforce traffic light and speeding violations, but automatic ticket issuing systems don't stop the truly dangerous drivers as they are not an immediate deterrent. And automatic tickets piss off the people who get ca

    • The way around the requirement that a violation of LAW requiring an OFFICER to issue the ticket is that the cameras document violations of ORDINANCES with a CIVIL penalty.

      Blow a red light in front of a cop, you're issued a ticket that affects your license. Blow it in front of a camera, your license is safe, but your wallet is in jeopardy!

    • by deniable ( 76198 )
      They use mobile cameras here, moved a couple of times a day. At one point they had to put a cop with the camera so charges would hold up. They changed the laws and an approved tech can sit with the camera now.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @12:58AM (#48702403)

    We have a few speed cameras in school zones. Supposedly, when the kids are walking to/from school, they drop the school zone speed to 20 MPH from 35, indicate the reduction with flashing amber lights and enable the speed camera.

    Except that they turn the damned 20 MPH zone on at random times during the day. No school starting/ending. No recess. But then, when preschool gets out at noon and all the mothers are walking the little kids home, its 35 with no cameras enabled. Its a scam. It has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with catching drivers who see no kids (but miss the warning light) and figure the 35 MPH limit is in effect.

  • by west ( 39918 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @01:02AM (#48702427)

    Ontario had vans with speed cameras in them, and I'd estimate that they knocked about 10km/h off the average speed of highway drivers, reducing speeds to about 2-5 km/h over the limit.

    When a new government eliminated them, speeds went back up to the 12-15km/h over the limit over the next month or so. As expected, accident and mortality rates went up as well. Faster cars = less reaction time.

    However, nobody was willing to seriously ask the real question. Is freeing up 5-10 minutes of a large number of people's day worth a few lives lost?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Interesting, if anecdotal. I'll add my own anecdote.

      In the UK they install cameras where there have been serious accidents. The problem with this is that if you get a few accidents one year it doesn't mean you will the next. It could just be bad luck, it could be due to some specific issue like poor road maintenance or lack of signs. When the accident rate goes down after the camera is installed it takes all the credit, ignoring the possibility of the stats simply returning to the normal level.

      There are in

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      5-10 minutes? Not in reality unless people there are commuting 30 to 60 miles.

      I have a 30 mile commute and if I drive 10mph over the speed limit for those 30 miles, in a perfect world where I CAN maintain that extra 10mph I gain exactly 5 minutes.

      But in reality the highway is not empty so I can do 80 unimpeded. other traffic like semi trucks cause me to slow down. Even if I try like hell to maintain 80 as much as possible. My average speed over those 30 miles is only 74mph and I saved 2 minutes that

  • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @01:35AM (#48702561)
    I actually don't mind if there were fewer speed cameras - I don't speed more than 5-7 mph over the speed limit, but I can see that mild speeding on highways rarely cause problems. But red lights? I wish every crossing had them.

    Ok, I might be biased because I was hit by a car once (a broken arm but nothing more serious) when crossing a road (on 'walk' sign).
    • You don't break the law too badly is what you're saying?

      What does that say about the law when everyone is in illegality. More than a few people here took some math, what is a limit again?

      • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
        I'm driving at speed limit by I might get a little bit over it during maneuvers. Traffic regulations allow for it.
  • "...a nonprofit scientific and educational organization funded by the insurance industry."

    Sounds legit.

  • Big Brother is watching you doing wrong at all times.

  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 @03:27AM (#48702961)

    Most studies show that red light cameras work, in that they reduce the overall number of injuries and fatalities (but increase the overall number of accidents), which seems like a pretty desirable benefit to me. People are more important than cars. As someone who is primarily a pedestrian, too many times have I narrowly avoided being hit by a driver who ran a red light, or who turned on a green forward arrow before the light changed to a green circle. I'd be quite satisfied if the people who did that had to pay a fine.

    Don't want cities to try gaming the system? Fine, just have the government set rules that remove the incentive. For example, the provincial government could require that the revenue from red light cameras installed by the city goes to the province instead of the municipality, or goes to some sort of charity, or goes into the caisse de depot or CPPIB or something. Cities can install the cameras for safety if they want, but would see no financial benefit.

    • by Spad ( 470073 )

      This is America, we don't let "governments" set "rules", we let the free market decide. If people don't want to pay fines from clearly rigged red light cameras then they're free to use one of the other road providers instead.

      Vote with your wallets, people.

    • by Jaime2 ( 824950 )

      Most studies show that red light cameras work

      Yet, only 11 days ago, there was a study posted here [slashdot.org] that shows that they don't. There have been many reviews of studies that showed safety benefits and the reviewer almost always finds that some other change caused any observed benefit that was attributed to red light cameras. Most commonly, the yellow light duration is lengthened, leading to a reduction in tickets and a reduction in accidents - but it is presented as the cameras changing people's behavior and leading to reduced accidents.

  • The big question with speed cameras is whether speeds are properly set for these roads.

    There are 3 speeds a road can have:
    1.The speed limit set on the road signs
    2.The speed that it is safe to drive the road at (which may vary with weather conditions, traffic conditions etc)
    and 3.The speed that the majority of the traffic is actually driving at.

    Limit #1 (the posted speed limit) should be set at no lower than limit #3 (the limit people actually drive) unless that value is higher than limit #2 (the limit its s

  • This is why I am quite looking forward to fully automated self driving cars. Never again will I get a ticket - or if I do, I can sue the car manufacturer. Of course the game will be up when city politicians realize what these cars mean to their "lost ticket revenues". Isn't entitlement grand?
  • Cameras can't pick who they apply the law to

  • Oh there's the bullshit again. Red light camera's do increase safety. They may not decrease the number accidents but typically DO decrease casualties. But much more important, they reduce innocent victims. Instead of innocent people dying because some idiot slammed into the side of their car, we now mostly have 50% victims that either crashed into another car because they were tailgating and we have 50% victims that were incompetent drivers that failed to appreciate their surroundings, especially the idiot

  • FTFA:

    The state also has struggled with a ticketing system that requires people who ignore mailed violations to be personally served if the case is to proceed.

    Why is ANY system allowed to bypass the service requirements long established in common law and from the Constitution? Postal mail is not service, and never has been, but somehow since there is a camera we throw out due process as too inconvenient? How asinine.

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