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SAFETY: Red-light cameras send a clear message

Letter by Paul and Sue Oberhauser, Somerset, Ohio on Jan. 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm with 34 Comments »
January 25, 2012 2:55 pm

Hundreds of people are killed and thousands more are injured each year by red-light runners. Unfortunately, this disregard for traffic safety laws frequently goes unpunished.

We have directly experienced the torment and grief these careless incidents create. On Thursday, Jan. 26, we will remember the 10th anniversary of our daughter Sarah’s death at the hands of a red-light runner.

In 2002, a man traveling 55 mph ran a red light and struck Sarah’s car, killing her. Only 31 years old, Sarah, a high school science teacher, was robbed of her bright future, her two children deprived of a loving mother. All this could have been prevented had he stopped on red. He didn’t.

The tragic simplicity behind our story and others like it is that these events don’t need to happen. Traffic safety cameras provide constant, efficient traffic safety enforcement and help prevent tragedies like the one that took Sarah from us.

Traffic safety cameras send a clear message: If you break basic traffic laws, you will be held accountable. There’s no reason another family should endure the loss of a loved one to someone who refuses to obey the law.

(Paul and Sue Oberhauser are co-chairs of the Traffic Safety Coalition.)

Leave a comment Comments → 34
  1. To most municipalities, red-light cameras are more for revenue generation than accident prevention.

  2. Sorry about your loss, but cameras don’t physically stop the idiots running red lights – especially when the light has been red so long that cars begin crossing through the intersection. Easily obtained stats, including my own unfortunate experience, demonstrate the vast majority of tickets go to free-right takers who inch too far over the fog line before turning right.

  3. I’ve seen drivers going through reds and it’s one of the reasons
    getting around town in Pierce County isn’t safe. We need to get
    the drivers to cooperate in order for people to go about their

  4. Wrapper98439 says:

    Frankly, I don’t care if the revenue provides an all expense paid trip to Maui for the mayor if it means less idiots will kill by running red lights.

  5. took14theteam says:

    I believe I saw this exact same letter last year at this time. Don’t feel like looking it up right now. Why is the TNT posting this seminar letter? I am sure it was sent to every newspaper in the country.

    The cameras do nothing to stop accidents. In fact, they cause more because people panic and slam on the brakes because they don’t want to cross that white line by an inch (thank you Fife). The cameras are there for revenue, nothing more.

  6. bobworks says:

    Sad – accident. the truth is 1. open container, 2. seat belt 3. cell phone 4. red light cameras are dollars from all of us.

  7. I am very sorry for the loss, but a camera would not have prevented this accident, and will not prevent future accidents of this type.
    I’m going to guess the driver who ran that light had a history, and should have been taken off the street before he killed somebody instead of after.

    Cameras are a cash cow for the city that installs them – to prevent this kind of accident we need to change the laws.

  8. reformedliberal says:

    The cameras DO send a message, but the letter writer gets it wrong. The message actually being sent is “We want more of your money, and we are willing to steal if from you if necessary.”

  9. Judging by all the squawking the cameras are effective. Hit them where it hurts in the wallet.

  10. Well….. I just got a ticket in the mail with a picture of my car making a free right turn. A free right turn for crying out loud. So I must consider that maybe I didn’t make a complete stop first and pay my ticket. Miffed at myself, not the camera.

  11. All these cameras do is prove that a lot of people have too much money available. Wealth redistribution, courtesy of leftist overseers.

  12. tire shredders…..just install a bunch of pop-up tire shredders. run a redlight? bang! as you cross the stop line.

    allow them two mph over a speed limit to adjust for improperly calibrated speedometers then fifty feet past a posted speed limit sign…bang!

    wont take long before people get it.

    too bad goofy ideas like this have to come up, but if people would learn to slow down, pay attention, and behave like adults, we wouldnt have to deal with this stuff.

  13. They only put red light cameras on main intersections. The ones that people, usually, won’t dare run a red light at. Instead, we get tickets for technical infractions, like not stoping behind the line before making a right turn.

  14. What a bunch of crybabies. How about getting data from cities that shows whether the cameras are doing what they are supposed to do? Have accidents decreased at camera monitored intersections or not? Fairly simple.

  15. If you don’t like the red-light cameras then you can do something to get rid of them, like they did in L.A. and other parts of the country.

    L.A. City Council Votes to Remove Red-Light Cameras
    July 28, 2011, 12:11 PM

    The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to terminate the city’s unpopular and unproductive red-light-camera program, effective July 31.



    Los Angeles Red Light Cameras Now Being Removed
    December 21, 2011

    ATS, the red light camera company that ran the program for the city of Los Angeles has begun removing their cameras, controllers, and wireless communication equipment.  The process will continue until January 16th when the last of the cameras will be removed.  The LADOT will then begin removing the rest of the infrastructure such as the poles, housings, etc.



    IIHS Study Actually Found Cities Using Cameras Had Higher Fatality Rates!!!!!

    The 2011 IIHS study actually found that cities that used cameras had noticeably higher red light running fatality rates than cities that did not use cameras in both “before” and “after” time periods.


  16. Whether you believe in obeying the law or not, what do most reasonable drivers do when driving in Fife? They slow down and obey the speed limit and they stop behind the white line as the STATE LAW says to do.

    Why do they do this? Because of enforcement. The City of Fife actually enforces the law. I know that’s an odd concept for some, but you are not exempt from the law. The law isn’t for everyone but you.

    By now everyone has heard that you are supposed to stop behind the line. “But I was only an inch over the line” isn’t an excuse. What if your employer paid you $5.00 less on each paycheck than you earned? Would you accept, “but it’s only $5.00″ as an excuse?

    The law is the law. Break all the laws you want, but man up and pay for it when you get caught.

    For the record, I am not a LEO.

  17. stumpy567 says:

    Last year I was cited at a “Red Light Camera” at 54th street in Fife for stopping about 2 inches over the pale yellow line in order to see oncoming traffic to make a right turn. When I went to court to contest the ticket there were about 15 people there and 2 of them actually ran the red light. This is nothing more than a scam to fleece law abiding people out of their money. This has nothing to do with safety. Why is it your insurance is not affected? Because it is not due process.
    It can not be proved you are the one operating the vehicle because the cameras are forbidden from taking photos of the driver.
    It’s sad the letter writer lost their daughter but unfortunately the red light cameras aren’t the solution to this issue.

  18. For all the crybabies try this:
    “Last week, Dallas officials reviewed the numbers and decided that a quarter of the cameras they had installed to catch motorists running red lights were too effective. So they shut them down.

    They are not alone. Faced with data showing that drivers pay attention to cameras at intersections — resulting in fewer ticketable violations and ever-shrinking revenue from fines — municipalities across the country are reconsidering red light cameras, which often work too well.

    At the heart of the discussions taking place in city councils and county commissions is tension between the twin benefits that were touted when local governments began installing cameras about a decade and a half ago. Officials were promised that the cameras — which take snapshots of busy intersections, capturing the license plates of any cars that are running the light — would simultaneously save lives and generate millions of dollars in extra fines.

    The first half of that equation is arguably true: A federal study found a small but measurable reduction in injuries nationwide in accidents at intersections monitored by cameras, though there was an increase in some kinds of collisions.

    It is the second half of the equation that may be beginning to collapse. As drivers learn where the cameras are, they are more careful. Fewer of them run red lights. Local governments collect fewer fines.”

  19. ManuelMartini says:

    I don’t think a red light camera will stop someone driving 55 MPH in a traffic controlled area. They were mostlikely driving 20 MPH over the limit.

  20. igotdabombfool says:

    Stumpy –

    So you agree that you broke the law by stopping past the line and yet you fight the ticket and call yourself law abiding.

  21. Stumps,

    The Stop lines are painted white in Fife. I know, because I got a camera ticket there myself, right after they installed the camera on 70th and Valley Ave.

  22. Just obey the traffic laws, for heaven’s sake!

  23. BlaineCGarver says:

    As sad as it is, accidents mostly take two cars to happen. One doing something wrong, and the other not paying attention. My pet peeve is calling them “accidents”

  24. BlaineCGarver says:

    Even if your light is green, or you have the right of way at a stop sign, for God’s sake, look before pulling out…Please….Sarah would be alive if she had.

  25. slugoxyz says:

    As research, I studied 22 Red Light Camera studies both from the United States, Canada and Australia. 3 of the 22 indicated an increase in motor vehicle accidents (MVA) mostly rear end. 17 of them indicated overall decrease in overall MVC. 2 did not study that. All but one indicated a decrease in injury accidents (as high as 18%)and 9 indicated an aspect called spillover. Spillover is a phenomena that occurs when a municipality puts up RLC and it increases awareness at intersections that don’t have RLC.

    If done correctly and legally, RLC are not great money makers. The initial expense, maintenance and cost of development – most are digital- makes profit difficult and most municipalities get approval for RLC only by dedicating revenue to school safety or similar programs – not the general fund. RLC are stationary and can’t be used as evidence or surveillance unless the subject runs a red light. Washington cameras protect the identity by only shooting the rear of the car (you won’t get caught with your mistress). So the invasive argument is somewhat invalid.

    It is possible for some RLC users to bend the rules, shorten yellow light sequences, charge fines that exceed RCW or do not allow for the non-driver affidavit. Fife is one of those. Fife does not allow a ticket receiver to deny driving the car without stating who WAS driving the car. That is bending the RCW and potentially forcing a receiver to incriminate spouse or family. I believe their fines are high as well. Be that as it may…

    Most jurisdictions that bend the rules to earn a profit are sued and ultimately forced to stop. There have been a number of jurisdictions that were forced to stop using RLC (Virginia, NC and California etc.) Having said that, the majority of jurisdictions now using RLC do so with proper yellow light sequences (10% of the speed limit so a 35mph zone should have a YLS of 3.5 seconds +/-. This is not always set in stone but is a Public Works function not normally connected to the RLC), charge appropriate fines, allow for non-driver affidavits and as the studies show, increase safety at that intersection and possibly other non RLC covered intersections.

    Here is the key to RLC intersections. If you don’t like them, obey the law. I know I know. You want to drive fast and run red lights. So consider the RLC a toll. It doesn’t affect your insurance so just pay the fine and move on. But there are jurisdictions that have stopped using RLC because the maintenance made the upkeep too expensive. That means people obeyed the law so much that they felt compelled to take the cameras down. Win-Win. There was a jurisdiction in NC that bought 2 camera but placed boxes at 9 intersection, rotating the camera on a rotating, random schedule. Eventually, they hope to leave the boxes and signs up but get rid of the cameras all together.

    And to you folk that cry about revenue cash cows because it’s the only argument you have? Do the research. Stop regurgitating crap you read on one website because you want to believe its true; feeling that RLC are some sort of injustice. If you break the law, you should not be either angry or surprised when you have to pay a fine. It makes you seem a little…well, for lack of a better word…dumb.

  26. slugoxyz says:

    Stumpy. HAHAHA. If I had a dollar for every time I heard that. In Washington, the RLC does not take your photo until both wheels of your car are passed the stop bar after the Red Light Sequence has begun. So… you are just a fibber. I know. I shouldn’t call you names but it is what it is. I’m more sorry you feel compelled to bend the truth (and the law) than I am sorry for calling you on it. That’s a lot like saying the officer pulled me over for 1mph over. HAHAHA. Not even worth getting out of the car or off the bike. Most officers will tell you that you need to be going 10 over unless you are otherwise being reckless or driving erratically. I do love that story though… I was only going 2mph over and that mean officer…blah blah blah. Law abiding citizen…blah blah blah. Pay the fine and move along!
    Your insurance is not affected as a deal made when constructing the law. It is NOT a way to skirt the US Constitution. I imagine in time, the insurance companies will endeavor to change that. The insurance companies love RLC making the argument that RLC increase accidents silly. Insurance companies hate accidents but love raising your rates for breaking the law. Although much as I dislike insurance companies, breaking the law makes you a greater risk. I have to side with them there.
    Due process? You get to meet your accuser in court. I am positive there was an officer present when you went to court. He/she had the photo of your offense right there in their hand. It’s like breaking into a store, being caught by surveillance and then saying that the officer needed to be present when you committed the offense. Sounds silly put that way doesn’t it? You’re just upset you were caught by technology. You are probably upset if caught by airplane too. “That’s cheating!” The Constitution is safe and secure with the use of RLC. Smarter people than you have challenged that and already lost, time and time again. What’s your next argument? Thus far I feel unchallenged.

  27. Is there an iPhone/iPod App that identifies where local Red Light Cameras?

    Can there be some kind of icon placed on Google Maps, MapQuest Maps or others that shoes where the Red Light Cameras are?

    Anyone have answers to those questions?

  28. yabetchya says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have to say though, I don’t believe a camera would of made any difference in that man running the light. I have no gripe with the cameras, if you are driving the way you should be, you should have no problems. For the people who say they got a ticket for stopping over the white line, well in drivers ed 101, they always taught you to STOP befor the cross walk, not in it or beyond.

  29. These cameras are doing a great job of correcting dangerously bad driving habits. The only problem is that the fines are too low and the infraction does not appear on the drivers record.

  30. BlaineCGarver says:

    The white stop line is OFTEN not far enough to see in both directions properly….Do you get a ticket if you stop behind the line, then move forward a bit? How about right turn on red?

  31. What are the specific metrics involved to determine the time frame of amber light durations and are they arbitrary?
    If cams are so easily affordable, why not visible “count down” displays for the ambers?
    Traffic 101 means looking both ways before proceeding through a green…

  32. BlaineCGarver says, “As sad as it is, accidents mostly take two cars to happen. One doing something wrong, and the other not paying attention. My pet peeve is calling them “accidents””

    I have always said that, and boy have I gotten a lot of flak over the years because its so insensitive! (Sheesh I cringe when I say that word!!)

    Simple fact is it DOES usually take two…the one causing the accident, AND the “victim”…or should I say the other person who allowed it to happen!!

    People should follow the old standard….”Don’t hit anyone, and don’t let anyone hit you”.

  33. Google “WA red light camera locations” or city name … many websites pop up showing maps and more info. Some have GPS locations. http://www.photoenforced.com/ … covers many cities/states camera locations.

  34. Thanks saogwo!!!

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