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Traffic Light Cameras

 
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 9482
United States
02/07/2006 08:44 AM
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Traffic Light Cameras
Well traffic light cameras are finally making it into texas. Another way for the police and city to make money under the guise of safety. The part of the article I find most disturbing is:

"A vehicle owner caught by camera faces a $75 civil penalty while one who commits the same violation but is caught by police receives a Class C misdemeanor criminal citation that carries a maximum $200 fine. The American Civil Liberties Union believes that violates the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause."

So now we have the car owner not the driver being fined and different penalties for the same 'crime'. Bet someone challenges this crap in the first month after the system goes live.

What is everyone elses opinion on these things? They in your area? Did they really lower accident rates due to run redlights?




Cameras catch 633 running red lights
Only a warning for now, but soon $75 fines await


By ALEXIS GRANT and MATT STILES
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Cameras caught more than 600 motorists in Houston running red lights recently, and the worst the drivers faced was a letter of warning.

They may not be so lucky next time. In a few months, drivers who run red lights can expect to be photographed at some city intersections and pay a $75 fine.

On Monday, the Houston Police Department recommended that the City Council award a contract for the camera system to American Traffic Solutions Inc., one of four companies that bid on the project and demonstrated their systems over a month-long trial period late last year.

"We've got great technology, great services, great customers and a perfect track record," said Jim Tuton, CEO of American Traffic Solutions., which runs camera systems in several large cities including Seattle, New York City and Philadelphia.

During the next month, HPD will draft a contract with the company to present to the City Council, which must approve the contract before cameras can be installed. The council approved camera enforcement in 2004, and the plan survived several efforts in last year's Legislature to ban red-light cameras.

During the test period, 633 vehicle owners were issued warnings for running red lights at four intersections: Milam at McGowen, Milam at Jefferson, Travis at McGowen and Texas at San Jacinto.

"That's about 20 cars per day openly, blatantly, without regard for public safety, going through the red light," said Lt. Robert Manzo, a police spokesman.

At that rate, $75 citations at just four intersections would reap about $47,000 a month for the city, if they are not tossed out in the appeals process. With cameras at 50 intersections, the eventual goal, one year of citations could bring in about $7.1 million.

Critics of the program say the city is pushing red-light enforcement cameras to raise revenue.

But Mayor Bill White said his motive is the safety of Houstonians, not the city's coffers. "What I think about is just the lives," White said. "I don't think of it in terms of revenue."

The contractor will be paid using revenue from tickets, and White said he wants the system to generate enough money to pay for itself.

He expects revenue to decline over time as the public becomes more aware of the cameras.

Competing for the contract along with American Traffic Solutions were ACS State and Local Solutions Inc.; Nestor Traffic Systems Inc.; and Siemens Energy & Automation.

Of Houston's 2,500 intersections with traffic sihappy_bunnyerated by the city, the 50 with the most collisions are likely to be outfitted with cameras.

The technology is already used by communities across the country, including Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. In Dallas, cameras are expected to be in place by this summer after the City Council approved them earlier this month.

Supporters of the program say cameras increase public awareness about traffic signals and reduce crashes.

Critics have cited an increase in rear-end collisions, likely a result of motorists stopping suddenly to avoid tickets.

A 2005 study by the Federal Highway Administration showed that in seven communities where red-light cameras were being used, right-angle crashes decreased 24 percent while rear-end crashes increased 15 percent. Right-angle crashes are usually more severe, according to the Highway Administration.

Besides the concern about rear-end collisions, some raise privacy and constitutional objections to red-light cameras.

The camera photographs the license tag, not the driver. So the citation will go to the owner of the car and not necessarily to the person who was driving the car when the incident occurred.

Tickets issued by police officers cite the offending driver.

A vehicle owner caught by camera faces a $75 civil penalty while one who commits the same violation but is caught by police receives a Class C misdemeanor criminal citation that carries a maximum $200 fine.

The American Civil Liberties Union believes that violates the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.

Scott Henson, director of the group's Texas Police Accountability Project, said: "If I run a red light and get a civil fine, and you run a red light and get a criminal charge, we are not getting equal protection under the law."

The issue has not been litigated in Texas, Henson said.

Houston and other cities have asked the Texas Department of Transportation about the legality of installing the cameras on roads where the municipality and the state share jurisdiction, said Norm Wigington, a department spokesman.

Last month, TxDOT asked state Attorney General Greg Abbott for an opinion on the issue. Abbott is still reviewing the request, said spokesman Jerry Strickland.

Until the matter is resolved, Houston officials will not install cameras at such shared intersections.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 11607
United States
02/07/2006 08:50 AM
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Re: Traffic Light Cameras
They've been using them in NYC for years now and it the Insurance Institute showed that intersection rear end collisions increased dramatically because people slam on their brakes at yellow lights for fear of the cameras. The kicker is they had proof because many accidents were documented by the cameras themselves. LOL. Overall, I don't believe they're too bad because, in general, people have slowed down on city streets and most people would rather pay a $75 administrative fee than a $250+ fine if they rush through a changing light.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 4009
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02/07/2006 09:11 AM
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Re: Traffic Light Cameras
15 years ago in Germany, I received a ticket by mail with a photo of my car and me in it....
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 9482
United States
02/07/2006 09:18 AM
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Re: Traffic Light Cameras
My main issue of this is where does automatic monitoring of traffic and the imposing of fines stop? Why not program the computers in every car to automatically regulate speed or just automatically levy a fine if a certain speed is exceeded? Once traffic light cameras are accepted as the norm everywhere, the next thing to be implemented is automatic speed regulation and/or automatic speed fines.





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