Blue over red

August 12, 2008

They just don’t want to give up on the red-light cameras:

Both Lafayette and West Lafayette mayors said Monday they’ll lobby state lawmakers to create a law authorizing municipalities to use red light cameras.

Passing a state law authorizing the use of the cameras may be the only option left for local officials who want to use the technology. Steve Carter, the state’s attorney general, issued an opinion on Friday saying the legislature must create a law before municipalities can use the cameras to catch drivers who run red lights.

Both cities have placed the cameras at intersections to research how many drivers they would catch.

And it’s all about creating respect for the law and catching those darn bad drivers and improving public safety. It is absolutely, positively not, not, not about all the money the cities will raise with the cameras:

In Kingsport, Tenn., for example, Redflex receives 80 percent of the ticket price ($40) for the first 95 tickets issued at each intersection approach each month. Kingsport gets the remaining $10, according to Deputy Police Chief David Quillin.

After 95 tickets, Redflex and Kingsport split the fines evenly. In addition, Kingsport gets court costs, which the city council hiked from $13.50 to $50 last year. (The increase “would have happened regardless of the cameras,” Quillin said. )

For the city, the gain is from $160,000 a year pre-cameras to an estimated $1.4 million. Redflex will make about half that.

Currently, more than 300 U.S. communities have some kind of “cop cam” system, going after everybody from red-light runners, speeders and railroad-crossing jumpers. They make a ton of money for their operators and the cities they’re in. Their effect on public safety remains debatable. A proposal for a statewide pilot program keeps turning up in the General Assembly, but it never passes. These two mayors think support is growing, and they have a good shot this time around, so get ready to do some kicking and screaming before the City Council. Just saying.


2 Responses to “Blue over red”

  1. If a law is passed to photograph stop lights, then there must be a statute passed identifying the length of time a light is to remain yellow in order to clear an intersection safely.

    Years ago I was asked if I new the formula for determining that time. I have looked and not found one. The state manual on traffic signals does not have one, but states a light should remain yellow for no more than 6 seconds. This may sound like a lot of time, but consider the following:

    six lane wide intersection ~ 55 to 60 feet
    two cross walks at either end ~16 feet
    Offset distance before the cross walk ~5 feet
    1/2 second reaction time ~22 tp 33 feet
    30 mph is 44 ft per second
    45 mph is 66 ft per second

    How fast should a person decelerate? Therefore, before any automated feature is added, there must be standards created that are accurate, reliable and safe.

  2. Harl Delos Says:

    If a law is passed to photograph stop lights, then there must be a statute passed identifying the length of time a light is to remain yellow in order to clear an intersection safely.

    Why must there be?

    You’re not ticketing the driver for running a red light. You’re ticketing the car owner for allowing his car to be where it ought not be.

    It’s not a moving violation, it’s a parking infraction.

    No points. Just a fine.

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