Red light cameras

I am getting a lot of calls on this issue, so I thought it needed to be addressed, in spite of the fact that the city has already approved it.

We’ve all seen some bozo racing through a light that has already turned red, and we seldom see one of them actually being caught. If there were cameras mounted on these traffic signals, I suppose we would catch every one of them, fine them, and force them to mend their evil ways. There’s nothing like a stiff fine to bring about a change of behavior. It’s the reason why I am careful to buckle up today.

Of course, I was pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy, not caught by a red light camera that happened to notice that I was not wearing my seat belt. The deputy was there as a warning to speeders, but he caught me although I was not speeding. My point is that the same result can be had by increased and strategic patrols. I would be much more willing to increase officers than put a new system in place that could cost more.

I understand that there is a money-making opportunity for the city here. They will certainly get more fines, at least initially. But there are a couple of other unintended consequences that concern me. One is that one of the behaviors that may change is one that has been documented in other cities where they have these cameras: increased rear-end collisions as people stop abruptly. Another is that the city commissioners may see this as an opportunity to reduce the number of officers on patrol. During last year’s budget shortfall, the city inferred that they may cut over 30 officers. That means that the city’s need for more of your money, as opposed to cutting non-essential services, promotes their own bad behavior.

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