Thursday, May 08, 2008

Red Light Cameras Hard at Work

Over the past couple of years, "red light cameras" have been popping up at signalized intersections across the metro. The camera snaps a picture of cars running a red light, and then the owner of the car is mailed a violation notice with a fine. Based on the number of flash bulbs going off, the system is generating a lot of traffic fines.

A longer standing tradition here in St. Louis is the right of way given to cars driving in funeral processions. To newcomers, it's a little hard to get used to. Cars in parade formation drive right through red lights.

Yesterday, the two practices faced off right in front of me. The light was red, a funeral procession continued right through the red light, and there was the red light camera, busily snapping photos of every car driving through the light. There must have been thirty or forty of them.

What happens now? Do these drivers have to fight the tickets? Will they get them? Do they assume when a long line of cars runs a light in succession, it's a funeral procession so they don't bother sending the tickets?


Anonymous said...

The trend of violations wherever there are red light cameras is the same: lots of violations at first, lots fewer over time. People learn to stop (or learn to avoid those intersections). Whatever the case, there are fewer red light runners at those intersections.

A cop reviewing the images makes the final call whether or not someone gets a red light camera violation notice or not. If a person would have gotten a ticket from a cop staking out the intersection, she will get a violation notice. Otherwise (as in this case), not.

And better a violation than a ticket. Tickets get insurance points, violations do not.

Sun Tzu said...

Why Are The Cameras Installed In The First Place?
The Intersection of Strategy and Measurement--The Red Light Camera. An interesting perspective on the question!