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Letter: Learn from LA – Don't Install Red Light Safety Cameras

A letter to the editor in response to possible legislation that would mean installing red light safety cameras at intersections.

[Editor's Note: This letter to the editor was written in response to Connecticut legislators' consideration of placing red light safety cameras at intersections. You can read about the legislation .]

We just returned to Connecticut from living in Los Angeles for over 20 years and experienced the implementation of red light cameras. In theory, the idea of catching red light runners and increasing safety with cameras at intersections while raising government revenue seems plausible.

In practice, not the case.

First and most costly: collateral damage -- the intimidation factor while approaching a light with a camera causes a variety of abnormal behaviors and leads to an increase in rear end accidents/injuries as motorists jam on their brakes as it turns yellow. Motorists in an intersection waiting to turn will panic and cause additional accidents.

Those are two obvious scenarios, there are more. Less obvious is the negative psychological effect at various levels. The Big Brother effect has deep implications which begin with fear, anger, and frustration, followed by avoidance of the area, and ultimately the potential for moving out of the area and/or the state. Do not underestimate the ramifications of loss of business, property values, and the fear of future government controls and loss of freedom.

Second, the courts will be swamped with motorists who dispute the ticket, and they are disputable. This is a massive waste of time and money for the motorists and the court. It is not cost effective for the state unless a predictable large number of tickets are issued and paid. Which means the vendors and operators of these cameras will set them up in such a way that revenue is maximized, meaning, speed limit alterations, yellow light variances and altered frequency of red light changes, for starters.

Third, the ticket prices must be high (in the multiple hundreds) to justify the costs associated with the program. The revenue gets divided up between a variety of entities. The state revenue justification is nonsense. Lastly, whomever is in power if/when this is implemented will not be come next election. It is a lose/lose proposition.

Robert C Keppler February 01, 2012 at 08:43 PM
I disagree. I think red light cameras can be highly effective IF, and ONLY IF, they are not permitted to be a profit centre. Too many local authorities abdicate their responsibilites to the private sector and sell ticketing rights to private, for profit companies that clearly have a motive to, e.g. adjust the lights timing, increase fines, etc. There is no reason that people that run red lights shouldn't be persued using modern technology. As for the "big brother" argument ? Ha ! Write to me snail mail from somewhere there's no cell signal someday if you're truly worried !
Fairfield Resident February 01, 2012 at 09:19 PM
"........ IF, and ONLY IF, they are not permitted to be a profit centre" LOL!! That will NEVER happen. Municipalities don't have the $$$$ to install these systems and they rely on the private sector to do so for them and thus the contractor gets a cut of the revnue stream as a part of the installation contract agreement.
Jim February 05, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Cameras give a false sense of safety, because even with a $500 fine (Calif.) they don't stop the real late runs that occur when someone is lost, distracted or impaired. The mere presence of a camera can't stop the real late runs because the runners don't know (a tourist), or don't remember, that there's a camera up ahead. They're not doing it on purpose! The real late runners cause the accidents. To stop them, improve the visual cues that say "Intersection ahead." Florida's DOT found that pavement markings (paint!) cut running by up to 74%. Make the signals brighter, bigger, add backboards, and put the poles on the NEAR side of the intersection. Put brighter bulbs in the street lights at signals, and lighted name signs for the cross streets. The cues are cheap to do citywide, unlike cameras which are expensive, ineffective against real late runners, increase rearenders, drive shoppers away, and send local money to Oz or AZ , never to return.
cheers February 06, 2012 at 03:46 PM
For the record, the following links will substantiate everything I said and more in my editorial. Notice what parts of my editorial Mr Kelly did not dispute - a telling revelation. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/08/local/la-me-0608-red-light-20110607 http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_west_valley/peoria/peoria-turns-off-red-light-cameras http://warondriving.com/post/16875838390/red-light-camera-truth http://www.gazette.com/articles/cameras-131693-consider-denver.html http://warondriving.com/post/15042903265/fl-red-light-cameras http://www.motorists.org/red-light-cameras/objections http://www.motorists.org/red-light-cameras/increase-accidents http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/34/3413.asp http://www.desertdispatch.com/opinion/cameras-2877-red-safety.html http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/berwyn/topstories/x338367299/Berwyn-s-3rd-red-light-camera-criticized-by-residents-aldermen?zc_p=0 Justin Beck

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