A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
'Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.' - Groucho Marx

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  1. #1

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    George Mason

    Default Lets talk about red light/speeding cameras

    I like this topic, for two reasons:
    1 - I can't really find anyone who agrees with me. This fits me because I guess I'm somewhat of a contrarian... At least thats what I'm told... I really think my take on it is just, but whatever

    2 - where people fall on this subject has nothing to do with political motivations, yet (in my experience) people are as strongly opinionated about it as any political subject i've seen.

    So before I share my opinion, my experience has shown me two things constantly come up that are misconceptions about me, or the history behind this practice:

    1 - There have been reports of local governments rigging intersection equipment (ie: lights, signs, etc) in such a way that it causes more people to run the light. An easy example is shortening the yellow light duration once the cameras are installed. Let me be very clear about this: I think this is an awful practice and I think the people responsible for these things should be locked up for a long time. People can die because of tactic. I in no way support this. This is above and beyond being greedy; it's dangerous. I do not think having cameras means you need to rig the lights, or that it means everyone will rig the lights.

    2 - Some people get mixed up over exactly what happened in DC when DC 'struck down' the red light cameras. They think that the cameras themselves were ruled unconstitutional. What actually happened is that the company that runs the red light cameras refused to allow their staff to testify in court, and it was ruled that was a violation of the right to confront your accuser. The cameras were not struck down - the evidence was simply not allowed unless the person who designed/operated the cameras would be willing to testify. There is quite a difference there.

    I know some states have struck them down, but as far as I'm aware the SCOTUS hasn't ruled on them. If i'm horribly mistake, please let me know!

    So, my opinion:

    The traffic laws were created to provide a safe way to commute from point a to point b. The rules they teach you in driving school are based off the same idea. The stopping distance, not driving while distracted, checking your vehicle mechanically, reading signs, etc etc were all created so that if you do these you will not get in an accident.

    The actual rules of the road are calculated the same way. The timing of the yellow light is based on how far away you can see the light, the speed limit on the road, and other factors. The speed limit is calculated the same way. These are all designed to prevent accidents, but they have a caveat:
    You have to actually follow them.

    The timing of the yellow light at 50 MPH no longer works if cars are approaching the intersection at 65 MPH. If everyone followed these rules, we wouldn't have accidents (with the exception of mechanical failure, which is always possible).

    So, I am for these cameras as a way to try to get people to drive safer. If everyone follows the rules, the number of people who die on the roadways would go down significantly.

    If you run a red light you were either:
    - not paying attention
    - following the car in front of you too close
    - speeding
    - purposefully running the red light.

    There is no justification for running a red light that takes the blame away from you. So, if cameras stop this, that is a good thing. I feel the same way about speeding.

    I've also heard the argument that having a red light camera makes people slam on their breaks and cause the cars behind them to rear end them. I do not buy this argument either - the camera didn't cause this any more than a cop sitting at the intersection would cause it. What caused it is you realizing you were about to break the law (and get caught) and you tried to prevent that without properly weighing the results (ticket vs collision).

    Now, if you just don't want them because you want to speed/run red lights and not get a ticket then I can't really argue with you on that one other than to say I disagree with your priorities

    In the end if red light cameras and speeding cameras result in the local governments having more money (in the short term) and people driving safer (in the long term) then I fully support the idea, provided they are not rigging the lights to make people run them more often.

    What say you?
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  2. #2

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    In Houston, the speed cameras were voted down by the public, but then the company sued the city because they had a contract with them, and now they're in limbo, or going to be reinstalled, I'm not sure.

    I'm all for speeding cameras that kick on after a certain threshold, like maybe 15mph over the limit or something. I'm not sure what the current threshold is, but I've heard that in Bethesda you get a ticket for anything over the SL, which is total BS in my opinion.

    Red light cameras, I'm not against them. Don't want a ticket, then don't run a red light. Some cases, however, I don't think they're justified. There have been times I've gone through tight yellows in the rain, for example, because I didn't think I had enough stopping space. Or if some a-hole is tailgating me, and I don't want to have his front grill as the new accessory on my dashboard.
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  3. #3

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    Default

    They are revenue generators. Nothing else. Safety concern is a ruse.
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  4. #4

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    George Mason

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    The going through the yellow in the rain is probably a good argument. Although I think it could be argued that you shouldn't be driving as fast if it's raining - but that's subjective and as long as you're not going over the speed limit it isn't illegal. I can see it going either way.

    I think the threshold for around 495 is 12 MPH? I'm not entirely sure. It's only on the MD side anyways, the VA side doesn't have them - yet.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ax View Post
    They are revenue generators. Nothing else. Safety concern is a ruse.
    Yup. That's my feeling. Hence, no points.
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    George Mason

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    So the fact that revenue generated is from people not following the law doesn't matter for you two?

    Do you not think it'll curb running red lights/speeding over time? (key phrase: over time. i don't expect it to immediately)
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  7. #7
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    When they first put them up here in Virginia Beach, there was a huge public outcry. Lawsuit eventually lead to the being taken down. But after a few years through the courts, they came right back.

    I have read deeply into the subject, and there are a lot of things being perpetuated about the cameras that simply aren't true. First being the rigging of the timing of yellow lights. I worked with a guy for several years who spent most of his life working on traffic signals. The entire thing is set up on a pre programmed circuit board. The times of each color are set in stone before the circuitry is ever installed. The only way to alter the preset times, is for someone, such as a police officer, to stand at the control box next to the light, and manually operate it. The yellow lights are not shorter, it's just something people who keep getting tickets claim to justify their actions.

    As far as ticketing for running yellow lights, that doesn't happen either. Watch t he cameras, they flash. It's pretty obvious how they work. It is set up to turn on the exact second that the light turns red, then flashes when activated by someone crossing the line after the light is red. If someone is already over the line when the light turns red, no picture is taken, because the sensor is at the stripe. They aren't stupid, they are well aware that people would get injured or killed if they snapped yellow light pics. The outrage over this is unfounded and bred by ignorance.

    As far as the question goes about the plates not being on the front of the car, they get you no problem. At least here in VA, they snap a picture of both the front and rear plates, and the camera that takes a pic of your face is angled and at a height to wear unless you duck, your face is being shown. Rising up in your seat only gives them a better view of your face, because the camera doesn't shoot from the front, it shoots from an angle, and the face cam is a different cam, which is sitting at a height of about 5 feet, not up in the air.

    I got a red light ticket a few years ago. It told me to pay $50 for the fine. Then at the bottom in small print, it said that the pictures contained could not be used against me in a court of law. So rather than pay it, I circled that part, and told them I didn't run a red light. If they can't use that, they have absolutely nothing to go on. It worked, because I never paid it, and never heard back. That law has since changed
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Extreme View Post
    When they first put them up here in Virginia Beach, there was a huge public outcry. Lawsuit eventually lead to the being taken down. But after a few years through the courts, they came right back.

    I have read deeply into the subject, and there are a lot of things being perpetuated about the cameras that simply aren't true. First being the rigging of the timing of yellow lights. I worked with a guy for several years who spent most of his life working on traffic signals. The entire thing is set up on a pre programmed circuit board. The times of each color are set in stone before the circuitry is ever installed. The only way to alter the preset times, is for someone, such as a police officer, to stand at the control box next to the light, and manually operate it. The yellow lights are not shorter, it's just something people who keep getting tickets claim to justify their actions.
    This is false; light timing can be switched and frequently is. For example, a cross street with a light might be on a timer during the day when there is a lot of traffic opposing them, but in the evening they will often switch this to a weight-sensor driven system, where the light changes only when a car approaches the intersection.

    They also must have the ability to change the timing of lights to adjust traffic flow for situations such as street closures or construction.

    Also, from an engineering standpoint, there is no way they would just "set the timing in stone" and not have some sort of controller installed for this very purpose. Every system must have some sort of override.

    As far as ticketing for running yellow lights, that doesn't happen either. Watch t he cameras, they flash. It's pretty obvious how they work. It is set up to turn on the exact second that the light turns red, then flashes when activated by someone crossing the line after the light is red. If someone is already over the line when the light turns red, no picture is taken, because the sensor is at the stripe. They aren't stupid, they are well aware that people would get injured or killed if they snapped yellow light pics. The outrage over this is unfounded and bred by ignorance.
    Also not true - I've seen the cameras flash for people who were in the middle of the intersection to turn left when the light turned red.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by tshile View Post
    The going through the yellow in the rain is probably a good argument. Although I think it could be argued that you shouldn't be driving as fast if it's raining - but that's subjective and as long as you're not going over the speed limit it isn't illegal. I can see it going either way.

    I think the threshold for around 495 is 12 MPH? I'm not entirely sure. It's only on the MD side anyways, the VA side doesn't have them - yet.
    It should be 15-20 IMO, to ticket those entering the reckless zone.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanky Livingston View Post
    This is false; light timing can be switched and frequently is. For example, a cross street with a light might be on a timer during the day when there is a lot of traffic opposing them, but in the evening they will often switch this to a weight-sensor driven system, where the light changes only when a car approaches the intersection.
    I am well aware of that, but that isn't what was being discussed. I was specifically talking about the timing of the yellow light. People think it can randomly be switched around to cycle through a yellow light at a quicker rate than a normal yellow light, and it isn't. The length of time the light stays yellow is entirely based on the width of the intersection. Call DOT, they'll verify that. It has nothing to do with whether there is a camera.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanky Livingston View Post
    They also must have the ability to change the timing of lights to adjust traffic flow for situations such as street closures or construction.
    Which I mentioned. It is done manually, unless it is completely shut off and set to blink. Still, this has no bearing on how long a light stays yellow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanky Livingston View Post
    Also, from an engineering standpoint, there is no way they would just "set the timing in stone" and not have some sort of controller installed for this very purpose. Every system must have some sort of override.
    They do, manually. This was already discussed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanky Livingston View Post
    Also not true - I've seen the cameras flash for people who were in the middle of the intersection to turn left when the light turned red.
    Not if they were moving more than 5mph you didn't. The only time it flashes for something in the intersection, is when the speed is so low, that it picks it up as a stationary object blocking the intersection, which it does for anything moving less than 5mph. Not that it matters, I was discussing forward moving traffic. I didn't clarify that, so that is my fault.
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Extreme View Post
    I am well aware of that, but that isn't what was being discussed. I was specifically talking about the timing of the yellow light. People think it can randomly be switched around to cycle through a yellow light at a quicker rate than a normal yellow light, and it isn't. The length of time the light stays yellow is entirely based on the width of the intersection. Call DOT, they'll verify that. It has nothing to do with whether there is a camera.
    Well, you specified the timing "of each color," not the just the yellow light. I'm sure that can be adjusted as well though; it does not make sense from an engineering standpoint if it cannot.

    They can also switch from the standard Green, Yellow, Red to blinking yellow, blinking red, etc.

    Which I mentioned. It is done manually, unless it is completely shut off and set to blink. Still, this has no bearing on how long a light stays yellow.

    They do, manually. This was already discussed.
    Again, you said all lights. Also, there is certainly a manual override, but there is also a control override. A cop doesn't have to stand there to change it. They do, but this is in situations where its the cops discretion to how much traffic he will let through, etc. Or if he notices a back-up, etc.

    Not if they were moving more than 5mph you didn't. The only time it flashes for something in the intersection, is when the speed is so low, that it picks it up as a stationary object blocking the intersection, which it does for anything moving less than 5mph. Not that it matters, I was discussing forward moving traffic. I didn't clarify that, so that is my fault.
    Yeah, this is the situation I meant, when someone "stands" in the middle of the intersection, waiting for a hole to turn left into, so they would be moving less than 5mph in that case.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanky Livingston View Post
    It should be 15-20 IMO, to ticket those entering the reckless zone.
    The threshold in Montgomery County is 12mph.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanky Livingston View Post
    Yeah, this is the situation I meant, when someone "stands" in the middle of the intersection, waiting for a hole to turn left into, so they would be moving less than 5mph in that case.
    These people create an irrational irritation for me. It's one of those things I have no explanation for, because it has no effect on me at all, it just makes me hope their car stalls out and I can go past them.

    In VB, we have some abnormally wide intersections, some very ridiculously so. You constantly see someone, as soon as they get solid green and have to yield, just sitting way out in no man's land. Then 10 seconds after it's red, they go like it's no big deal since they were already out there.
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    I just got a ticket in the mail for turning RIGHT on a red light, and not stopping completely.
    They don't just take a picture. Then record a video.
    Ticket was 158 bucks, just for coming to a rollling stop on a right turn.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fear The Spear View Post
    I just got a ticket in the mail for turning RIGHT on a red light, and not stopping completely.
    They don't just take a picture. Then record a video.
    Ticket was 158 bucks, just for coming to a rollling stop on a right turn.
    That's exactly what mine was for when I got mine. Mine was total BS though, because there was no sign. They now have signs at every one of these camera turns that tell you to come to a complete stop before proceeding. This issue has been through the courts numerous times, and if there is no sign, go to court and you won't have to pay it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extreme View Post
    That's exactly what mine was for when I got mine. Mine was total BS though, because there was no sign. They now have signs at every one of these camera turns that tell you to come to a complete stop before proceeding. This issue has been through the courts numerous times, and if there is no sign, go to court and you won't have to pay it.
    Wait, maybe there's a misunderstanding here ? Are you talking about a sign saying "No Right Turn" ? Because, even though there was no sign saying "No Right Turn" it's common law, that you have to at least come to a complete stop before turning. So, my ticket was not simply for making a right turn on Red. It's because I did not stop completely before turning.

    So I still could have turned legally on red, and not gotten the ticket, had I stopped completely before turning.
    Are we on the same page ?
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fear The Spear View Post
    Wait, maybe there's a misunderstanding here ? Are you talking about a sign saying "No Right Turn" ? Because, even though there was no sign saying "No Right Turn" it's common law, that you have to at least come to a complete stop before turning. So, my ticket was not simply for making a right turn on Red. It's because I did not stop completely before turning.

    So I still could have turned legally on red, and not gotten the ticket, had I stopped completely before turning.
    Are we on the same page ?
    Let me clarify. To give you a ticket for what you did, there has to be a sign on that side of the road that specifically says that you must come to a full and complete stop before turning. If there is no sign stating that, you can go to court rather than mailing in a check, and get the fine thrown out. The reason being, is that the law states that when making a right turn at a red light, you must yield to all oncoming traffic and pedestrians, but if there is a sign prohibiting right turns completely, or a sign stating you must come to a full stop, then you must come to a full stop.

    But if there's a camera, there's generally a sign, unless the camera recently went up.
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  18. #18

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    I am 99.99% sure that a red light dictates you must first come to a full stop, not simply yield (unless there is a green right-turn arrow). Same with a stop sign - red lights are actually harsher than stop signs, because you can't just run a red light if there is no traffic.
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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanky Livingston View Post
    I am 99.99% sure that a red light dictates you must first come to a full stop, not simply yield (unless there is a green right-turn arrow). Same with a stop sign - red lights are actually harsher than stop signs, because you can't just run a red light if there is no traffic.
    Correct. Right-turn-on-red does not require signage either.
    Only, No-turn-on-red.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ax View Post
    Correct. Right-turn-on-red does not require signage either.
    Only, No-turn-on-red.
    Yeah...you can only NOT turn right on red if there is a sign prohibiting it.

    Side note: those signs that say "No turn on red when pedestrians are present" are NO JOKE. My buddy got a ticket when there was a pedestrian caddy-corner from him. Unreal!
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