Red-light cameras, the good and the rantable

OK, the speed-camera debate reminded me of some research I did a few months ago.
1st- some background. I lived 6yrs in MD, 6 in CT. Both states have a
very bad problem with people running red lights, and while in MD they started installing red-light cameras.
Watching people almost kill me made me say 'red light cameras- good!'. There's a real problem, and they are trying to do something about it. At least it'll prove conclusively the moron was running a red when he kills someone.
The bad- in my informal research I found that 1) the red-light camera companies get a portion of the fines 2) the red light camera companies determine the light timing 3) the bastards set the yellow short to increase revenue.
Discuss...
Dave
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My experience comes from a different area. As many of you know, I lived and worked in Norway for many years. For the most part, our concept of social responsibility is considerably different from the American one:
People look down on scofflaws. People expect other people to obey the laws of the locale and of the nation.
The police are generally educated and calm, not 'Boss Hogg' types.
Now, the lights: We had them in and around many cities. Not all of the boxes were constantly monitored. You never knew which ones were active.
If you sped through an active one, you were on record and there was essentially no defense.
Most of us tried to obey the laws, and the cameras were there to remind us. (I never got a speeding citation).
I saw no problems at all from having them there.
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What does your state representative say? It would seem to me that if enough people complained they would do something about it.
In Oregon they have red light cameras at specific high-accident-prone intersections, the state runs them and gets 100% of the fines and the yellow is set the same timing as any other non-photo light.
You can get off the Internet, people sell a reflective spray and a reflective license plate cover that looks transparent, but when a flash hits it, reflects the light to black out the license plate numbers.
Ted
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Ours flashed a deep red color. Don't know whether the color was for attention, or whether it was used as an infrared illuminator. What about the ones you have?
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Reducing the timing of the yellow to catch people is fraudulent.
Drivers expect the yellow light to have a certain amount of persistence which they learn from experience. They know that when the change from red to yellow takes place, they can expect a certain time during which they can still enter the intersection.
Imagine if the intersection lights changed abruptly, instantly becoming red for one traffic flow and green for the other. That would be no good. Drivers would have to stop on a fresh green and check for those who were unable to stop. There would probably be a high accident rate.
Even if there existed no yellow light, there would still have to be a brief period when the intersection is locked out: all red. This would provide a safety margin. Drivers would know that when they get caught by a sudden red, they still have X seconds before it turns green for the stopped traffic.
There are still such periods, but preceded by the yellow warning. The yellow splits that phase into two: a phase when vehicles from the previously permitted traffic flow are still allowed to enter the intersection, followed by a brief period when no car is permitted to enter.
Together, these periods add up to the overall safety margin. Decreasing one of these periods without increasing the other decreases the overall safety margin. As such, it is criminally dangerous to do this.
Not only do you not owe the city any fine, the culprits responsible for tinkering with the timing belong in prison for endangering lives.
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Kaz Kylheku wrote:

Not true. The entire world managed without the all-red period for dozens of years. I was severely pissed the first time I encountered a light programmed to have an all-red period.
No, it did not cut down on accidents. It's just another concession to the delusion that slowing all traffic to zero MPH is the way to reduce accidents.
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but a good rule to follow, camera or no camera, I think,
is when you see amber start making preparations to stop - if necessary.
what's the big deal - if you get ticketed by the real thing, or a robot?
I can't ever remember running a red light in an indiscriminate manner.
mho vfe
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The snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net entity posted thusly:

One thing I really like about the red-light camera is that it is not open to interpretation. I've been victimized twice by cops who thought I entered the intersection on the red, while I was sure I entered on the yellow. The camera removes the doubt..
On the other hand, the camera radar is not judging by traffic conditions, while an officer is. I have yet to be victimized by an officer. All times I have received a speeding ticket issued by a cop, it was definitely my own doing. I have received two tickets as a result of photo radar, and in both cases, I am positive a cop would have let it go.
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And, the motorists didn't do anything about it?
I can also remember when the amber timing - was really short, and also when it was lengthen - supposedly for safety reasons.
mho vfe
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Lights dont go from red to yellow. They go from green to yellow to let you know red is coming. Federal guidelines (menitioned in here once I think) are yellow is to be no less than 3.0 seconds and no more than 6.0 seconds. The red light camera entrappers set the yellow lights at 2.9 seconds or when they get caught with that, they set it for 3.0 on the nose.
The time before the intersection turns green the other way CAN be instantaneous . It is advised for safety to give some time for an ALL RED before flipping green the other way, but in my city, some lights do and some dont. Its a crap shoot. You never know what you going to get. The Federal Highway admin suggests long intersections have this ALL RED feature to allow the intersection to clear out before flipping green to the other drivers.
In a city with those cameras, consider yellow to just BE red and just stop and hope to hell you dont get ass-ended. trying to outrun a red light camera is stupid. Thats why these light cameras should be declared a public nuisance.
If you want to have fun with these cameras, if your light turns yellow, slow down. Dont stop until you are right up to the line. Stop suddenly. Result: the camera will flash and use its film but you havent committed anything other than an abrupt stop. I do this all the time and it just takes one frame off the film.
On the tricks to fool the cameras, the sprays etc... High gloss laquer will do the same thing. The spray works sort of but the thing that really woroks is the plate lens that blocks out oart of your numbers or is only visible head on. The camera being off to the side will not get a full plate number. Problem: These are considered obscuring your plate and will get you a $50 ticket if a cop gets behind you and see's it.
There are some clever other things which so long as a cop isnt viewing your plate, you can do. There are some other things, so long as no one is watching the camera, one can do as well. :)

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You know, I really don't care about the light cameras, follow the rules and you don't have a worry. When I was in Arizona, they had the all red delay and it did seem to help prevent collisions. I hadn't paid attention to it here in Oregon but while at work the other day we heard a loud "BAM" I raised my head to see a pathfinder coming from it's drivers side back onto it's wheels, We all ran out to check, the Young girl was fine as well as the two drivers of the Ford Fiesta that hit her. The pathfinder ran a yellow; speed was to high and she was afraid she was going to slide if she tried to brake for the light. I don't know if the Ford was playing the "timed green lights game" and had it's momentum up or not; it was obviously the Nissan's fault (Unemployed and no insurance, no license). Later while driving through this city I took note-- the instance the one light turns red, the other is green. From my experience, I like the 2 second delay.
Steve

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Point 1: You don't "run a yellow". Ever. Period. Why not? Because if it's yellow your way, *YOU* have the right of way. Granted, you're not far from having the red, and using a stale yellow isn't exactly the brightest move in the book, but YOU HAVE the legal right of way, and may do with it as you wish.

Which is *EXACTLY* What the yellow is about: "Stop *IF* if you can do so safely, 'cause you're about to have the red". If you can't stop safely, then you blow through it and pray no imbecile is going to automatically slam his foot to the floor the instant he gets green, rather than making certain the intersection is clear before stomping the gas.

Doesn't matter. If it hit somebody broadside when the vehicle that got hit had the yellow, there are two scenarios possible: The Fiesta ran a red light, or the lights malfunctioned.
Since the second scenario, while not impossible, is extremely unlikely, we're left with "Mr. Fiesta ran a red light and clobbered somebody".

SAY WHAT?!?!? Buddy, I want some of whatever it is you're smoking, 'cause that's some *SERIOUSLY* good shit!
You just described some meathead in a Fiesta running a red light and smashing into a Pathfinder hard enough to flip it (Something that just plain ain't gonna happen if the driver of the Fiesta was stopped at a red like he/she was supposed to be, but "jumped the gun" and tagged somebody taking a stale yellow - The Fiesta was moving, and moving fast, when it should have been stopped) and you're going to lay the blame on the Nissan driver?!?!? Were I the judge or a member of the jury that gets this case, based on your decription of events, *ALL* fault would be on the Fiesta. Lack of insurance, license, etc. has nothing to do with who caused the wreck, and is a topic for a different hearing/set of charges. What you describe has the Nissan legally (Not neccessarily *WISELY*, but we're talking legality, not wisdom here) passing through a yellow light, and getting nailed by cross-traffic that shouldn't have been in motion at all.
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******Back in the Jurassic era when I was taught to drive, we were admonished NOT to enter the intersection in a yellow. Sometimes you have no choice, I'll admit, but when faced with a yellow, I normally am able to stop comfortably.
I nearly got T-boned the other day by a guy who jumped the stop sign, when I had the right of way. I had stopped, yielded, and then proceeded. This dude didn't stop...Why? He had a freaking cell phone nailed into his ear. I am beginning to believe that use of a phone while driving should be an offense (and it IS, in some places. Just not here in Texas yet.)
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Good advice for self-preservation, yes. But not the law. If the light is yellow, you still have the legal right of way, and if you're dumb enough to use it, you can sail on through with perfect legality. Legally, the yellow isn't a "stop" command - it's a "Look out! Red is coming up quick so it'd be a real good idea for you to stop if you can" warning.

Ditto California...
Personally, I'd like to see cell-phones set up in such a manner that if a phone is in motion above walking speed, the tower (not the phone - the tower) says "No contact possible", and the phone is an inert piece of gear that can't be used. Once stationary/below 5MPH, they unlock and return to normal function. Otherwise, they're a chunk of dead equipment.
And before anybody raises the concept, here's my response to any "That ain't right" type argument you might have: I don't give a damn who you are, what your profession might be, what the nature of the call is, or *ANY* other consideration - *NO* call is so important you need to be jawing on the phone while driving. Not as caller, not as call-answerer, not for any reason whatsoever, under any circumstances, world without end, amen! You wanna run your yap at somebody? Pull your ass over and do it stopped, or don't do it at all.
For 60 years, (give or take a couple) people figured out "Hey, the phone isn't being answered - If it's important enough to call in the first place, I can try again later" and things worked just fine. On this topic, a return to "the good old days" isn't just desirable, it's the only intelligent thing to do.
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Don Bruder wrote:

Not good advise. 'Running' a yellow is illegal in most places. It is a 'stop' command. I got a ticket for doing it on the east coast of Canada and had to go to court to complain of the tailgater as the reason for 'running' the light, so I didn't think I could do it 'safely'. The cop was the tailgater! I got off.
I am in Canada and most everyone's highway traffic act is online and this conversation/thread has come up before and most places are the same we found out last time.
Here is what the Ontario Canada law states, QUOTE: Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular amber indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle if he or she can do so safely. END QUOTE.
This is from: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/DBLaws/Statutes/English/90h08_e.htm#BK195
No screwing around there eh. 'Running' a yellow is illegal.
Mike 86/00 CJ7 Laredo, 33x9.5 BFG Muds, 'glass nose to tail in '00 88 Cherokee 235 BFG AT's Canadian Off Road Trips Photos: Non members can still view! Jan/06 http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id !15147590 (More Off Road album links at bottom of the view page)
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Mike Romain wrote:

100% false. It's entirely legal in most (all?) of the US at least.

No, it is a warning that the light is about to turn red. There are no negative legal consequences to entering an intersection on yellow.

well there you go. Whatever area of Canada you were in is different from "most" places.
nate
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N8N wrote:

I only showed 2 provinces in Canada where it is illegal, the rest is the same.
Where do you live? I'll check your state law out for ya just to save you a ticket...
Mike
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Mike Romain wrote:

Maryland, but like I said, most if not all states in the US treat yellow lights the "normal" way so no need to waste your time.
nate
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N8N wrote:

I was bored... You can get just as busted down there for running a yellow light.
Your law says almost the same about a steady Yellow signal: If you are too close to the intersection to stop safely, continue through the intersection with care.
It is subjective, but if the cop wants an excuse to pull you over, 'running' a Yellow by goosing it to get through can still get you a ticket in Maryland, same as here in Canada.
Then you have to do the same as I did and waste two days to go to court. One to enter a plea, the second to fight it...
Mike
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Texas law says you may proceed without penalty if you have already entered the intersection under yellow when the red is activated.
http://home.att.net/~texhwyman/laws.htm#Yellow
That COULD be a judgement call, if Boss Hogg is nearby, though.
As I said before, we were taught not to enter the intersection on a yellow, but it was a common sense and conservatively safe issue, not a law.
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