Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Red Alert: Everything they really don't want you to know about those pesky traffic-light cameras

You have read about the red light cameras before on this blog. If you type in 'red light cameras' in the search this blog feature on the upper left of this page, you will find at least twelve posts that mention red light cameras, most of them agin 'em.

So when this article from the March 5, 2008 edition of Riverfront Times, a St. Louis newspaper was pointed out to us, we quickly surfed over and read it. It is quite lengthy but an easy read. The link is here.

Cha-ching! Is that the sound of a cash register or the telltale click of a camera flash? Both have a similar sound and, in the case of red-light cameras, both mean one thing: money. Since the city's (St. Louis) photo-enforcement program went into effect last May, the city has mailed more than 36,000 red-light citations, averaging 125 tickets a day, five citations per hour. To date, some 28,000 people have dutifully paid the fines, providing the city with a collection rate of more than 80 percent.

City officials insist the cameras that are installed at 21 city intersections are used solely to improve public safety, not to generate revenue. So they'd prefer the $1.9 million the program has collected in just its first ten months of operation not be emphasized. City hall is also hesitant to advertise the additional $900,000 that's gone to Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the private company that installs and monitors the cameras, and then splits the fines with the city
"I think anyone who wants to fight this is going to win," says Clayton civil-rights attorney Bevis Schock. "All you have to do is evoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The judge can't prove you did it."

The problem, adds Schock, is that few people have the time or willingness to challenge the citations before a judge. "This just isn't the right hill to die on, which is why it's such a great way to raise revenue for the city," says Schock. "I get calls from clients about this all the time, and I tell them, 'Look, it's a hundred bucks. Just pay it.' Now, if they start locking people up over these, I think you're going to have civil-rights attorneys who are just going to have a field day."


The Lorax said...

A person close to the $2 suggested that the yellow light just didn't seem to last as long as it did before.


Busplunge said...

I seem to recall that the length of the yellow light on city controlled intersections was synchronized with the length of the yellow light on state controlled intersections. As I recall, they were of different lengths. I seem to remember the engineer assuring us that that time differential didn't make any difference. I using a lot of weasel words here because I am in the middle of mopping the kitchen floor and I can't do a decent search and am just going on my memory which may or may be correct.

The Lorax said...

Is that synonomous with "the lights are all in synch all the way down Campbell and National?"

cause if that's what you said... or said you heard... my bullshit meter is going to hit the red.

Busplunge said...

I found the reference I was looking for. It's gonna make you mad. The headline reads: Missouri: City Lowers Yellow Light Time Before Installing Cameras.

Secret Drinker said...

I posted a link to that news story on my personal blog back in December.

"In a 2005 Texas Transportation Institute study, a one-second reduction in yellow time resulted in a 100% increase in the number of violations"

Crazy stuff, huh?

The Lorax said...

Crazy? Not at all.

Smart. MBA-like smart.

Dumb, though... if they think they won't get caught.

Anonymous said...

We had those here in Greensboro, too, but there were so many problems and complaints that they finally got rid of them.