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Sound Off: Cameras at intersections have some seeing red

Posted: February 28, 2014 - 6:11pm  |  Updated: March 4, 2014 - 9:11pm
Red-light cameras record traffic at Atlantic Boulevard and Monument Road in Jacksonville.  Bob.Self@jacksonville.com
Bob.Self@jacksonville.com
Red-light cameras record traffic at Atlantic Boulevard and Monument Road in Jacksonville.

Several red-light camera laws have lately been nullified because of legal challenges that they are inaccurate, unconstitutional and fueled solely by a community’s desire to raise money. Advocates say the cameras promote safety and punish violators, but so far there isn’t any hard data to support that; in fact, crashes increased in some communities. We asked members of the Times-Union/Jacksonville.com Email Interactive Group their stance on the red-light cameras. Here is a representative sampling of the responses:

 

Oddly enough, I was an early advocate of the red-light cameras until I got one myself. I was driving back to Jacksonville from St. Pete and apparently I ran a red light. There were 2 red lights and I took a right turn on the inside red light. I was baffled when I got the ticket in the mail as I am a conscientious driver when it comes to red lights. It made me aware of that scenario as I never thought to stop on a right turn when the light was red. It took a $156 fine for me to reconsider my position, but I still am in favor.

Robert Bracken, Ponte Vedra Beach

 

Jacksonville's red-light cameras: Most-issued tickets, by location

 

Red-light cameras are like Red Boxes. They are everywhere and they make a lot of money. I don’t see either going away.

Andy Bagley, Orange Park

 

We all want safer intersections and people running red lights are a pet peeve of mine. I always knew these cameras were going to be pitched and sold as safety precautions, and there was nothing we as citizens could do to stop them. I also knew once they were installed they would cut back the time of the yellow light to assess more fines and fleece the citizens out of more of their hard-earned money. It’s called extortion. If anything, they should increase the yellow time to give us the benefit of the doubt, but they don’t. The last thing we need are more cameras intruding on our lives, so lets get rid of all of them!

Brett Warren, St. Augustine

 

I think it’s Big Brother-like

Henry Turner, Jacksonville

 

I personally think red-light cameras are the greatest thing to come down the pike in decades. I’ve absolutely HAD it with the four or five or even SIX cars who consistently insist on zipping through an intersection well after the light has changed, as if it were their absolute right to ignore the rules that apply to the rest of us. The danger they pose to other drivers simply doesn’t concern them. So governments make money off these cameras. So what? They also make money off speeding tickets and court fines and dozens of other fees that are the direct result of people disregarding rules, breaking laws and generally behaving as if they were a privileged class not subject to any regulation whatever. ... I only have one objection to red-light cameras. There aren’t nearly enough of them.

Diane Tabbott, Arlington

 

I feel that the cameras are a great tool for determining fault in an accident or capturing an abduction or tracking hurricane traffic exiting the city on them, but more of a community service monitor. I am not in favor of just ticketing vehicles, however. Innocent people loan their vehicles all the time, but the camera captures the car and not the driver necessarily. I would certainly track numbers of persons traffic violations and send an initial warning, but determine a fair habitual offender process that would fairly ticket the correct drivers.

Rose Barnett, San Jose

 

Red-light cameras work very well to prevent side impact crashes and the number of intersections being monitored should increase, not decrease. The rise in rear-end collisions at these intersections is not due to the cameras, but is the fault of folks (usually 2nd or 3rd in line) who follow too closely or think, though the light is now red, they can clear the intersection before cross traffic starts to move. This indicates poor — and dangerous — driving habits and not a failure of traffic control equipment. On the other hand, it should be required that the duration of the yellow light be extended a second or two when the cameras are installed so folks cannot complain they’re merely fund-raisers.

David M. Casey, St. Augustine

 

I feel that the main purpose of the cameras is revenue production. However, I also feel that they do motivate some drivers to react to the traffic control signal and that is not a bad thing. Regarding the increase in crashes; one article I read stated that the majority of the crashes were rear-end crashes, a result of drivers attempting to stop for the traffic signal and being hit by following drivers going too fast or not paying attention. That is not the fault of the cameras.

Nick Tison, Jacksonville Beach

 

Those cameras at traffic lights do, in fact, give me pause as I approach them. Also, I think I do feel a bit safer when crossing where they are, thinking at least some drivers coming crossways to me may also have a little pause, instead of racing the caution light, knowing they could be fined.  

Ted Wight, Argyle area

 

The cameras have over saturated the traffic lights, which makes me believe they are about profit as much as safety. There are issues with responsibility, such as someone borrowing your vehicle and running a light, then the owner has to jump through hoops to rectify the problem. Perhaps if cameras are installed where there is heavy traffic and have a history of accidents, it seems plausible. But in some areas, such as Green Cove Springs and other camera sights I’ve noticed, it just seems like a money generator.

Gary Schuran, Middleburg

 

I am neutral about installing red-light cameras on a wholesale basis. I would like to see red-light cameras on intersections with the highest rate of collisions. A few red-light cameras may be installed at select intersections to determine if there is a decreased rate of collisions. A few “faked” red-light cameras may also serve the same purpose. Restrict knowledge of the on-going research to the individuals recording the data.

Hector Harima, Jacksonville

 

I live on the Southside and use Southside Blvd. and Baymeadows every day, in each direction. I personally have never seen anyone speed up to rush through. To the contrary, I have seen many slow down. On the surface, I see nothing wrong with them. However, I had a suggestion. When the orange hand lights up, there is no way of knowing how much time is remaining before the light changes. Just down Southside Blvd., there is a light that has the orange hand AND a second clock showing the countdown. When the second hand hits zero, the light changes. It’s perfect. Takes the guessing completely away, allowing drivers to adjust their speed. Perhaps that is a viable option for the other lights.

Dan Krawczyk, Southside

 

I’m opposed to these cameras for a couple of reasons. First, the practice of ticketing and fining the car’s owner instead of the actual driver is absurd. Our justice system has always been to presume innocence until proven guilty; this system makes a mockery of that. [Second], it seems to be a revenue-raising scheme, a business decision, for cash-strapped local governments as opposed to a deterrence for illegal behavior.

Charles Green, Belmore

 

The red-light cameras were a bad idea. A simpler method to prevent accidents at these intersections would be to delay the green so that there would be at least 10 seconds when all four ways would be on red. Sure, it would add minutes to each person’s trip, but accidents would be reduced without the danger of a hefty fine. The cameras installed in towns like Green Cove Springs where the speed limits are 35 mph. are fairer to the motorists because it takes less distance to stop safely when the light turns yellow. However, when approaching a yellow light going 50 or 60 mph, it is extremely difficult to judge whether or not it is possible to get through the yellow without it turning red. It seems the only way to avoid being caught would be to slow down to 35 or 40 miles per hour when approaching that intersection. I am always always afraid of a rear-end crash if I were to stop suddenly from 60 miles per hour.

Linda M. Turner, Northside

 

I am here to say that having a red-light camera at the intersection of San Jose and Claire Lane has been great. It seems like those turning east from San Jose into Claire would frequently run the red light; many times, i have seen up to 7 cars run through a light that I know was red, because mine was green! This camera increases the safety of the area and prevents angry drivers. I would much rather ticket law-breakers than have the city raise taxes again .

Terri Brown, Mandarin

 

If they are proven to be accurate, I support them. I observe red-light violations every day and always wish a policeman was present to ticket the violator. Anything that can be reasonably done to reduce this dangerous behavior should be welcomed by all.

Michael Lukaszewski, Jacksonville

 

Why, all of a sudden did we need red light cameras?

Brian Peters, Jacksonville

 

I see the cameras as just a money-making opportunity by local governments that are put in place for free by the companies that install them and reap the rewards collected as another form of a tax where a private company gets to share the revenue. ... I avoid the cameras, like the one on University and Beach Blvd., on purpose. It’s set up just like a speed trap. So many yellow lights are timed differently that there is no standard and that’s the problem as well. Its plain wrong to have these devices.

Anthony Graffeo, Northside

 

Red-light cameras are a HAZARD. I know when there is a red-light camera at an intersection, I STOMP my brakes regardless of how fast I am going. When it is raining, even at low speeds, I have slid sideways into the next lane from such severe braking.

Stephen D. Chastain, Mandarin

 

Keep the cameras. One, it can help minimize accidents. Two, it can save residents money if the payoffs go to help the pension issue!

James Black, Beaches

 

I agree with those who are against it. It is nothing more than a money grabber. I believe it will be misused and abused like everything else Big Brother does.

Edwina E. McCall, Orange Park

 

Recently, a friend received a “second notice” in the mail (with her signature required) when she never received the first one. She couldn’t prove she had not received it and couldn’t afford to fight it in court, so she had to pay an astronomical fee. This is a corrupt system of blackmail that will cause citizens more stress and will become known as “the red-light camera syndrome.” 

Virginia Baker, Green Cove Springs

WANT TO TAKE PART?

If you would like to be a member of the Times-Union/Jacksonville.com’s Email Interactive Group, email our editorial page editor, Mike Clark, at mike.clark@jacksonville.com and he’ll extend an invitation. Your opinions will be sought on a range of topics; we always want to know what you think.

Comments (14)

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dicemandan
623
Points
dicemandan 03/13/14 - 07:07 pm
0
0

Dallas, Texas... An

Dallas, Texas...

An investigation by KDFW-TV, a local TV station, found that of the ten cameras that issued the greatest number of tickets in the city, seven were located at intersections where the yellow duration is shorter than the bare minimum recommended by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

The city’s second highest revenue producing camera, for example, was located at the intersection of Greenville Avenue and Mockingbird Lane. It issued 9407 tickets worth $705,525 between January 1 and August 31, 2007. At the intersections on Greenville Avenue leading up to the camera intersection, however, yellows are at least 3.5 or 4.0 seconds in duration, but the ticket-producing intersection’s yellow stands at just 3.15 seconds. That is 0.35 seconds shorter than TxDOT’s recommended bare minimum. Dallas likewise installed the cameras at locations with existing short yellow times. A total of twenty-one camera intersections in Dallas had yellow times below TxDOT’s bare minimum recommended amount.

The ticket camera program in Dallas made the news recently for shutting down some of its cameras because they were no longer profitable.

dicemandan
623
Points
dicemandan 03/13/14 - 07:06 pm
0
0

Chattanooga, Tennessee... The

Chattanooga, Tennessee...

The city of Chattanooga was forced refund $8800 in red light cameras tickets issued to motorists trapped by an illegally short yellow time. The refund only occurred after a motorist challenged his citation by insisting that the yellow light time of 3.0 seconds was too short. LaserCraft, the private vendor that runs the camera program in return for a cut of the profits, provided the judge with a computer database that asserted the yellow was 3.8 seconds at that location.

The judge then personally checked the intersection in question was timed at three seconds while other nearby locations had about four seconds of yellow warning. City traffic engineer John Van Winkle told Bean that “a mix up with the turn arrow” was responsible and that the bare minimum for the light should be 3.9 seconds.

- See more at: http://blog.motorists.org/6-cities-that-were-caught-shortening-yellow-li...

DonGene
5228
Points
DonGene 03/02/14 - 05:16 pm
0
0
Premium Member

The Red Light cameras aren't

The Red Light cameras aren't put there for safety reasons. They are simply another way to make revenue for the city, state, and the owner of the cameras. Anyone thinking they are there to stop people running right lights are smoking funny weed. I wonder who in this state, in this city, were rewarded by the manufacturers and owners of the red light cameras. You can bet someone was.

Ron_Jax80
3421
Points
Ron_Jax80 03/02/14 - 12:20 pm
0
0
Premium Member

It appears most of the people

It appears most of the people commenting are for keeping the cameras.

I agree the problem is getting rear ended. I stopped for a yellow light (a little sudden for the speed) on Blanding Blvd. the other day, when a massive SUV a second later came barreling through. I was thankful that vehicle wasn't behind me when I stopped, because apparently he wasn't able to stop. Not good.

Another point is if there is a vehicle behind you pulling something heavy like a boat, they might not be able to stop as fast.

For safety sake it would be better to extend the yellow a few more seconds, that way there are some instances (wet roads, car behind driving too close, the split decision to stop or not to stop).

People running red lights needed to stop, it was getting worse. Since the cameras were put in place, the attitude of drivers has apparently changed for the better.

Orchbass
1605
Points
Orchbass 03/01/14 - 07:21 pm
0
0
Premium Member

Whenever I see a red light, I

Whenever I see a red light, I take my foot off the gas. Even when it turns green, I don't apply the gas pedal until I see the car in front of me, the last car in the line that has stopped at the light start to move again.

It amazes me to see so many folks behind me in such situations ride my azz and/or change lanes and accelerate only to then have to slam on their brakes when they get up to the red light or the stopped line of traffic leading up to said red red light. Often, they change lanes to get from behind me but I ultimately end up ahead of them even though they've accelerated. I save on gas and brake pads/discs this way too.

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