Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Traffic Cameras: Yes or No?

One of the goals at Redmann Law is to get the general public actively involved in conversation about the law. The law not only influences how we live, we also influence how the law is shaped.

So I'd like to know what you think about a particularly fiery debate right now: Traffic cameras. We all know somebody who's been issued a citation by a traffic camera (most of us have probably been ticketed ourselves), and we've heard both sides of the debate argue back and forth. Supporters say traffic cameras increase safety and generate revenue for their communities; opponents point to a lack of evidence that traffic cameras make people drive more safely, and that very little money actually stays in the community (with most of the money going back to the camera contractors).

This is a fascinating and important topic. So what do you think?

Post your opinion in the comment section below. Select "Comment As," choose "Name/URL," and then type in your name (You don't have to put a URL.). Or you can comment anonymously if you would rather. Please remember to be civil and respectful of other commenters and readers.

25 comments:

  1. I oppose the traffic cameras not so much because of how Big Brother they are, or because they're cash grabbers, but because the research on how they affect safety is wildly inconclusive.

    One study followed an intersection in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (http://tinyurl.com/ypasxz), and actually found that traffic accidents increased after the traffic cameras were installed. Drivers were more inclined to drive recklessly out of fear of being caught by the cameras. Fear is not a good motivator; people who are afraid tend to make worse decisions.

    Other data point to there being no discernible difference in driving patterns before and after traffic cameras; and still other research shows an improvement in safety. So what are we supposed to conclude? Only that we don't know, that nobody knows, and that a rational decision on traffic cameras cannot yet be made in the name of "safety."

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  2. I say "NO!" When I see a flash of light behind me, not only is it too late for me to alter my behavior (so what good is it) but it also distracts me and angers me for several miles thereafter. "Don't drive angry." - Bill Murray "Groundhog's Day"

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  3. I oppose, I feel that many drivers get nervous and panic wich can cause more accidents.

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  4. I definitely say "NO"!!! I received a ticket for "speeding" from a traffic camera and it wasn't even me driving. Sure, you are supposed to be responsible for whom ever you loan your car to, but you can't be on them 24/7! In situations like this, why should I pay for someone else being at fault. Also, most of these cameras are operated by the company who places the highest bid, who in turn gives money to the city. Do we really think that they aren't rigged? Come on! Thirdly, we don't need cameras on the streets-we need actual police doing their job! No wonder why NOPD (and other states) have overwieght and out of shape officers--they don't even have to get out of their cars anymore to write tickets!

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  5. What's the legality on NOT paying the tickets? I feel that it's my civic duty not to do so. No better way to boycott them, and I won't be a passive participant in the subsequent corruption.

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  6. Btw, I meant "overweight" not "overwieght"... Where is spell check when you are talking about traffic cameras?!

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  7. "I won't be a passive participant in the subsequent corruption." Nice.

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  8. Ignoring the shady money handlings that come with the contracted program, I would be 100% okay with the cameras, the concept, if the green signal would blink a couple of times before turning yellow, so I wouldn't feel panicked whenever I approach a known photo-enforced light. I've read that this does a lot to improve safety. When I approach a photo-enforced green light, I calculate, "okay after reaching that point, if it turns yellow, I'm still going." I'd much rather be aware of my environment.

    And short yellow lights on photo-enforced signals is theft and endangerment.

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  9. If it doesn't increase local revenue (because the cameras and ticket funds are outsourced out of state)and doesn't change the driving habits of the local residents. What's the point? But if the public obeys the laws because of "camera/civil policing by out of state corporations", are we simply being better drivers or are we contributing to the decline of our law enforcement officers that are paid directly by our tax dollars?

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  10. @Ava: I just think there's too much contradicting information to say one way or another that the cameras change behavior. It's anecdotal to say this, I know, but I've gotten several tickets and they've never changed the way I drive.

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  11. Some would argue that the cameras free up cops to focus their attention on other "more serious" matters. I definitely don't think that, but I hear people make that argument from time to time.

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  12. Where's the map of photo-enforced lights in New Orleans??? And the speed limit cameras are even worse. Traps!

    Geaux Jefferson Parish for shutting their program down!

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  13. Be mindful that although "GRETNA" is part of Jefferson Parish, the City of Gretna still has traffic cams operating.

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  14. Someone mentioned NOT paying the ticket(s) received. Probably NOT a good idea. While my opinion is that fighting them is an unfair fight - you will probably lose, ignoring them will likely compound the problem, and the costs.
    I haven't researched it lately, but I believe local attorney Joe McMahon is one (among others?) who have sued, and have a class action in process, on behalf of anyone wrongfully ticketed/fined. Look him up, call his office, if you want more info.
    John W. Redmann

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  15. P.s. - That class action is on behalf on anyone who got a ticket, even if, technically, you aren't sure the ticket should not have been issued. Part of the challenge involves using machines, cameras, instead of actual police officers, to document and prove the basis for the tickets. So anyone who got a camera ticket would qualify to be in the class, regardless of the actual merits of the case (whether you in fact ran the light or not, or someone else using your car may have.) It's a question of the state/city changing the laws/rules required previously without getting legislative or court approval to do so (as I understand it).

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  16. I feel strongly that the cameras are ineffective and unfair. I have worked in the insurance industry for over 18 years and do not believe that this deters accidents. The majority of the offenses from these cameras occur due to speed or from crossing an intersection when the light has turned red. However, the flash does not go off until one has almost completed the intersection. The chances of a collision occurring at that time are zero. There are times in which the vehicle has entered the intersection when the light is green and changes to red while completing the cross. The driver of that vehicle has no alternative but to complete the cross. Hence, they are fined. This is just another tax that has been placed upon the Greather New Orleans area.

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  17. I'd be OK with the speed cameras if they'd raise the limit for people who take annual driver training, pass competency exams and operate only the most capable cars that are exceptionally maintained. Maybe a 50% overage allowed for the best drivers and cars. Western European countries used this method to offer variable speed limits for trucks in the 1980s. If we implemented this, the camera would catch us, but the computer would toss the ticket once the license plate was entered.

    If you can't do that, then let's kill the cameras!

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  18. I oppose to the traffic light cameras. While they were operating I saw cars not pass red lights to allow a ambulance to pass, I saw a police man get out of his car and order the person in front of him to move his vehicle.
    I feel the cameras are very confusing and dangerous.

    The old saying, you can't teach old dogs new tricks!

    Cheryl C.

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  19. Here's some useful legal information on the traffic cameras in New Orleans:
    http://www.bloomlegal.com/Criminal-Defense/Traffic-Tickets/red-light-camera-tickets/

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  20. From BloomLegal.com:

    "The City is also required to post adequate signage to traffic approaching in all directions as to the designated speed limit as well as the presence of Photo Enforcement Cameras:

    "'Signs for Electronic Signal Enforcement - Appropriate warning signs shall be installed on the approaches to the intersection where red light running is being monitored. These black on yellow background signs... shall be installed between 400 and 1,000 feet from the approach being monitored.'

    "If you believe that you have received a ticket from a camera located in an area with inadequate signage according to these guidelines, you may be able to contest it."

    [http://www.bloomlegal.com/Criminal-Defense/Traffic-Tickets/red-light-camera-tickets/]

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  21. I'm happy that Jefferson Parish stopped this. I think the city of New Orleans should get rid of them as well.

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  22. I think they are a waste of tax payer money and the ones who get rich is the Houston law firm that collects the fees for following up. NO! to the traffic cams.

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  23. I'm against--its a tax--period. And we are taxed enough. If safety were the reason, then SIMPLY make the light stay red both ways for 8 seconds when it changes. PROBLEM SOLVED. But the politicians want the money to buy votes with.

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  24. The initial cost to install the cameras is about $250 K.
    This is without maintenance cost or the costs associated with the enforcement process . This is a high price for enforce of traffic citations. Camera enforced intersections cause drivers to either speed up to avoid the rapid snapping camera , or slow down to make sure they aren't caught in the at amber change . Either one is bad. If you were to poll anyone from DOTD you would get this same response , anything that causes a deviation in routine driving patterns is bad . This is why you do not have red lights on Interstates .I recently went on a trip to Nebrasks and rented a car during my stay . A guest traveling  with me was doing the driving through Council Bluffs. 3 weeks after I arrived home I get a citation in the mail for running a red light through  a camera enforced intersection  . $315.00 . Who is legally responsible? Should I pay the ticket because I rented the car?When a traffic citation is issued by a human being this dilemma is taken out of the realm of possibilities. U personally am vehemently opposed to cameras at traffic intersections.

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  25. Patrick B. SandersJanuary 12, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    I resent the game-playing City officials play when they claim the traffic cameras are all about traffic safety. It is clear the traffic cameras are all about revenue -- since our citizens are taxed to death this is another creative way at taxation. The other game that is played is categorizing these "tickets" as a civil violation only, getting around the normal requirement that traffic tickets be issued by by a police officer who has witnessed the traffic violation in person. Thus, the whole sham of traffic cameras are a creative way to call a tax something else and to remove the normal due process requirements expected when a police officer issues a ticket. We should follow the lead of Jefferson Parish and many other municipalities who have rejected the whole traffic camera scheme.

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