Letters to the Editor

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CAMERAS: Safety devices deserve public support

Letter by Robert Guile, Tacoma on May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm with 26 Comments »
May 18, 2011 2:40 pm

I find it hard to understand why people would oppose red-light cameras. In separate accidents, my wife and I were hit by large trucks that ran red lights. Had it not been for witnesses, it probably could not have been proven who ran the lights.

One of our vehicles was totaled out, and I required emergency room treatment for my injuries. Our other vehicle had several thousands dollars of damage, but fortunately my wife was not injured. If it had not been for air bags and seat belts, who knows what our injuries would have been?

If cameras are reducing the number of accidents, then they must be a good thing. If someone thinks they wrongfully received a ticket based on a camera, then they can challenge the ticket in court.

If you have never been T-boned in an intersection, or have never looked in a vehicle where a person was killed (I have) by a red-light runner, you might not appreciate the benefit of the cameras. In my view it would be good to have cameras at all controlled (traffic light and stop sign) intersections because they apparently do cause people to think twice about running the light or the stop sign.

In order to avoid more carnage on our streets, we need whatever traffic control devices we can have that will reduce accidents. This is not about the camera companies or the government agencies making money. This is about saving lives.

Leave a comment Comments → 26
  1. Mudbone says:

    The cameras make the intersections MORE dangerous! People are afraid of the huge ticket and they speed up! People are struggling and are afraid when driving around the unconstitutional cameras. Scared drivers are dangerous drivers! Cameras are a VERY, VERY bad idea! The worst part about them is the erosion of our constitutional rights. The government is just WAY too big! They are telling us what kind of showers and toilets we are allowed to have in our own homes, now they are telling us what kind of light bulbs we can have! What is next?!? Cameras in all of our homes too?!?

  2. BlaineCGarver says:

    Cameras do not stop traffic and prevent accidents. They catch thousands of red light runners, any of which could T Bone someone. Try again…

  3. People who run red lights should be fined, heavily. I (the taxpayers) shouldn’t have to pay a perfectly good police officer to baby sit every intersection when a camera can do the job, relentlessly.

  4. uratroll says:

    Red light cameras, like seatbelt laws, are not safety devices, they are revenue devices.

  5. truthbusterguy says:

    The guy that wrote this letter runs a risk management company and I bet he is in bed with cities that buy these cameras.

    I saw an accident in Bremerton last week when a car braked to not get his picture taken and got rear ended.

    Unplug all these cameras and have the cop do their jobs.

  6. watchingthenews says:

    Attention all graffiti artists and teenage vandals: If you need to spray paint something so badly, why don’t you spray paint some of these cameras instead of our neighborhood fences?????

  7. TTuttle says:

    Hey truthbusterguy; Oh my gosh. He braked for a red light? Or was it green? It couldn’t have been yellow, because that means to speed up.
    How about going after the drivers that follow too close.

  8. Robert, Their a waste in pierce county due to the fact the law prevent them from videotaping the driver so all you need to do is deny that you are the one driving so it’s dismiss due to lack of proof. So all it’s doing is costing the taxpayer 1 money for the non money making equipment 2 paying a person to mail out the tickets and the office materials 3 it ties up the court without generating income.

  9. TTuttle,
    Obvious you must have been asleep in your driver ed class that teaches you need to also do what you can to prevent accidents. Especially at A intersection. What I was taught was coming to an intersection and you are unaware if there’s a vehicle behind you and the light turns yellow you need to proceed with caution especially if it’s raining to prevent A accident. Also I was taught not to brake for small animal to prevent an accident

  10. I think it is the people who run red lights speed and tail gate that complain the loudest. If you don’t break the rules and run red lights you won’t get a ticket. So slow down do the speed limit not 20 miles over get off the cell phone and pay attention to your driving and quit tail gateing.

  11. Red light cameras dont prevent accidents…PEOPLE paying attention and expecting the unexpected prevent accidents. Everyday I see people flying through intersections completely blind to any surrounding traffic because they have that green light.

    And I love the part about those big, rude, nasty “large trucks”. I’d like to ask the letter writer how on earth he was hit by a large truck running a red light? I wonder if he even bothered to scan an intersection with his wife in the car, who’s safety relied on HIM as the “driver”, before blindly charging into it. Simple fact is that most accidents take two. There is almost always something that the “innocent” driver could have done to avoid it.

    I’ve “run” red lights on occasion with my truck at work…I’ll freely admit it. I know cops have seen it, and they understand what the public does not. I’ll explain why to a completely ignorant public.

    I drive a gasoline tanker that weighs quite close to 100,000 lbs fully loaded. Often I have seen a light go yellow just as I enter an intersection. The simple physics of pulling 75 feet of truck and trailer through the length of an intersection results in the fact that the light will be red by the time the end of that trailer gets to the other side.

    Now then, if I as the operator of that “large truck” were to ‘slam on the brakes’ to avoid that red light, At least two things will happen. The bozo behind me who likely is not paying attention will smear his smiling face all over the back of my trailer, and anyone else riding with him. That is a distinct possibility.

    Here however, is the REALITY. On our too frequently wet streets, if in a panic stop those trailer wheels lock up and lose traction, the trailer will begin a skid which will bring that trailer around to the side in a jackknife situation. In heavy traffic the possibility exists that if I slam on those brakes in an effort to avoid a red light, that jackknifing trailer takes out scores of vehicles as it sweeps across several lanes of traffic!

    Of course I cant win for losing as the general public sees me as a dangerous nuisance what ever I do. My best defense is to drive SLOW, look ahead, judge the “stale green” light in expectation of it going to yellow. I usually crawl up to a green light and am nearly stopped when the light does go yellow. That action of course baffles and irritates the public who see every intersection as a place to speed through to avoid the red light that will steal a few seconds from their self indulgent day! It isn’t very often that a yellow light catches me, but it happens. In that case, the best action for the safety of the public, the environment, and myself, is to keep it rolling in a straight line as safely as possible. The fact is, that people have the responsibility to make sure that intersection is clear before they enter it, green light or not. All too often that fact is ignored.

    I’ll stand by and expect the childish, mudslinging attacks that usually accompany these comment threads, which is why I rarely read or comment in this “news” paper any more.

  12. NotASheep says:

    In 2004 the Texas Transportation Institute (T.T.I.) studied 3 years worth of crash data from 181 intersection approaches across three Texas cities, and found that with only “one exception, all of the right-angle [t-bone] crashes” in their study happened 5-16 seconds after the light turned red. Yet, the camera vendor, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), says “the majority of red light violations occur within the first second of the red.” In fact, the average ticket is issued when the light has been red for half a second or less.

    In other words, camera tickets are being issued primarily for split-second violations where statistically, collisions are not occurring. Which is why cameras can not reduce dangerous crashes.

    It’s safe to say that drivers who enter an intersection 5-16 seconds after the light has turned red are not trying to beat the yellow light. These incidents occur for many different factors like: distracted drivers, chemical impairment and poor visibility. Ticket cameras can not solve these problems either.

    from: http://bancams.com/get-the-facts/myths-vs-facts/


    They are a FALSE bill of goods (nevermind the fact that one SCAMERA company exec AT ATS was just BUSTED for pretending to be the public: http://camerafraud.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/american-traffic-solutions-exec-suspended/)

    RLC DO NOT PREVENT your typical RLV crash.

    IN fact there is enough video around the web of RLV crashes CAPTURED by a RLC that PROVES RLC ARE A FAILURE at stopping many RLV crashes!

    Most RLV crashes are plus 5 seconds into red and have primary causes like DUI, fleeing police, not paying attention, medical/mechancial just to name some!

    Most RLC “tickets” are for garbage techincal fouls like right turns on red, stopping over the stop line and split second mistakes!




  14. Omega6234 says:

    It all starts with the weak, and i mean very weak, drivers test we all take in our teens. We need to step up the test to some very real world tests. Like high speeds braking… accident avoidance at high speed a high speed slalom. Not a 10 minute drive around U.P and one parallel parking spot. Its absurd at how easy it is to drive a vehicle that can kill people.

  15. Dear Robert Guile, please take the time to read the RCWs regarding automated traffic safety cameras in Washington State, specifically RCW 46.63.170 section 1g. The videos and photos taken by these cameras cannot be used in other civil or criminal cases – for good reason. Ergo, the only thing these cameras did for your cases was to possibly fine the drivers who hit you $124 or thereabouts should the driver choose not to contest in court or lose their case if they do.

    These cameras do not prevent accidents and they are not witnesses to accidents. All they do is fine someone for running a red light or for speeding – they do not compensate victims of accidents or contribute to the civil or criminal cases arising from accidents in intersections, that is to say, they do not deal with the fallout from possible outcomes of a person committing the infraction. That is the way the law works.

  16. BTW, it is actually cheaper to post a police officer at dangerous intersections – the camera equipment and the contract itself require a large payout to ATS or other vendors, AS WELL AS a police officer to review the footage and photos taken by the cameras. So the cameras actually take a police officer off the streets and sticks him in an office when he could be out there nailing not just infractions that deserve a ticket, but other crimes as well.

  17. “BTW, it is actually cheaper to post a police officer at dangerous intersections”

    Do you have anything to back up this statement?

  18. slugoxyz says:

    I was actually going to let this all go since the majority of people (69+%) approve of automated traffic regulation in an effort to make driving safer and the rather loud and ridiculously ignorant few who adamantly oppose simply oppose because they think cops are cheating by using technology to catch them breaking the law. But when someone says it is actually cheaper to put an officer at an intersection as opposed to a RLC, then I just have to object (and laugh at the preposterousness). Do you have any idea what one officer costs in salary, car, equipment, training, benefits etc.? Apparently not because it far surpasses the start up and maintenance cost of a single RLC. Besides, it is usually a Community Service Officer that reviews RLC photos (cheaper than a commissioned officer). Not to mention, it is extremely dangerous to chase a red light runner through an intersection in order to catch him/her. I do have to mention that it is not unconstitutional to photograph you on a publicly conveyed road. Also, in Washington, they only take a photo of your license plate. So, it isn’t really a violation of your privacy (which you don’t have on a public road). The right to meet your accuser? Yeah. I’ve heard that one too. When you go to court, there will be an officer there. So, that’s taken care of as well. RLC have survived the Supreme Court. Do you think you know about constitutionality better than they do? I’m sure you do.

    Rather than to refute all the silly points people are making against RLC, I will tell you a little secret. If you really want to do away with RLC, all you have to do is comply with the law. No red light runners and the camera will get taken down. It’s that simple. Don’t run the red light. Besides, in Lakewood anyway, all the money earned goes to making school zones safer. So, when you’re whining about government fleecing you because you broke the law, consider the fact that none of that money goes to profiting the government. It all goes back to public safety in school zones. Unfortunately, RLC don’t make much money. Lakewood barely breaks even. Fife might do a bit better. They are really expensive and aggressive. I’ve read 22 studies on RLC and can find only 2 that indicated that they were not excellent methods of traffic enforcement and that they actually cause red light compliance at non RLC intersections. I recommend you read them. If you are pressed for time, one of the best meta-analysis studies was done at Technion by a guy named Hakkert A Shalom in 2004. To cut straight to the matter and not have to read a long study, go to: http://www.iihs.org/research/topics/myths.html.

  19. slugoxyz says:

    Holy smokes. Polago and I actually agree on something. I might have to review my position on RLC. Nah. I’ve done too much research on the matter. I’m just not comfortable agreeing with Polago. Can you please change your mind so I don’t have to? I’ve done so much research, I could probably argue both sides and while I love traffic circles as a means to keep traffic moving, calm traffic and reduce red lights altogether, RLC are the next best thing to gaining compliance at intersections. This is a dilemma!

  20. We may not always agree, slugoxyz, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find common ground on some issues.

  21. commoncents says:

    wait…did I just see someone said they run red lights all the time and then proceed to describe them entering the light when it’s yellow? While I appreciate your careful driving – we are talking about the nitwits that are paying so little attention that they enter the light when it’s already red. If everyone used the same diligence as you then this argument would be moot as the camera company would not be in business.

  22. PumainTacoma says:

    SAFETY DEVICES DESERVE PUBLIC SUPPORT = Does this include SAFETY from Sheriff Mark French, Child Porn sicko whom is asking to have his sentence nullified?

    Maybe the TNT editors will finally retract the editorial given by former editor Seago where he defended a child rapist Mason MS teacher when he wrote in 2006 “she was 14, not 4,” as if age makes a difference.

    Put the red light cameras on Sheriff French’s child porn boathouse.

  23. slugoxyz says:

    Pumain? Can we stay on task? I’m sure you are grumbling about something completely valid (or not) but this is a discussion about Red Light Cameras. Did you post your diatribe on every blog? How long did that take?

  24. MadTaxpayer says:

    What a bunch of crying babies! If you have ever drove a vehicle in Europe, you really learn what a traffic camera system is and what it can photograph. No doubt it was YOU speeding or running the redlight.

    If you don’t like the RLC system, do not feed it by running redlights or speeding!
    I wish the City of Tacoma would run the speed cameras on Pacific Ave 24 hours. You would not believe the drag racers and speeders at all hours of the day or night.

    2 just went N/B at 100+. of course it is the souped up Hondas!

  25. lawrencejprice says:

    I would actually prefer that commissioned officers be on station at intersections. I also expect that the total cost associated with that duty be fully self sustaining and supported by the fines generated from violations committed at or near intersections. How many violations would it take at $1000.00 to cover the cost. Too steep, ok first offense $500.00, eight hour shift at only one violation per hour, that’s what $4000.00 a day. If drivers insist on driving distracted, impaired, too fast, then they should be the ones to pay for it. Run a red light, $500.00 fine, drive distracted, $750.00, drive impaired, mandatory 7 day jail sentence and $1000.00 a day fine plus full court costs. The rest of us will just go on our merry way and spend that money on something else.

  26. theropingeffect says:

    I have been “T-boned” at an intersection and there is nothing that a camea could have done to prevent it. I still support a ban on all automated ticketing machines.

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