Kansas City Courts Overwhelmed By People Protesting Redlight Camera Tickets

from the technology-problem,-technology-solution dept

mrtraver writes in to let us know that Kansas City's courts are apparently overwhelmed with people protesting redlight camera tickets. In fact, the system is so overwhelmed that they're installing computers outside the courtroom where people can review the video that resulted in their ticket. The hope is that people will realize how clearly the evidence stacks up against them and will drop their complaint. However, some other reports point out that some ticket recipients have been able to get out of the tickets after showing that the yellow light was too short, or that they had made a perfectly legal right turn on red. Of course, what's troubling is that while the judge let the person off due to the "too short yellow," it was only that one person. Given how many cities have been caught lowering the yellow light times below the legal limit, it would seem that having it happen in one case deserves at least a deeper investigation, rather than just dumping one person's ticket. In the meantime, for municipalities thinking about adding such cameras, it's worth pointing out that bureaucratic (and potentially technology) overhead you may be adding to your court system...


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    Interesting read

    Particularly liked these parts:

    "His firm is often asked by clients to help them with red-light cases. That is, until he tells them the tickets are “non-moving violations” that have no effect on driving records or insurance rates."

    And:

    "He said he usually advises alleged offenders to pay the $100 fine. Hiring his firm would cost five times that much."

    So here we might be able to conclude once and for all that it's entirely a cash grab, and that it has nothing to do with public safety. Doesn't go on the driving record. Challenging it would cost more than paying it. $$$$$$$!

    Now, if a law firm were to make a side business out of challenging camera fines for less than the cost of a ticket, guaranteed, well...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 6:15pm

    A friend of mine got one of these red-light tickets. She was convinced that it wasn't right. I helped her file an extension online, but our state requires that if you are protesting the ticket, you have to pay it first, and then, if you're found innocent, you get your money back later, minus a processing fee, naturally.

    Her ticket was $250.00. This woman is in a unique situation. She's deaf, and her native spoken language is foreign. She speaks English just fine, but in a courtroom, she needs the help of an interpreter who speaks her native language, because that's what she knows how to lipread competently under stressful circumstances.

    The state can't accommodate her strange need - she doesn't know sign language, and her native language is a regional dialect that very few people know how to speak. So she hires her own interpreters whenever she needs any help. Her primary interpreters have small kids and are only available during the day.

    So what does she get, when I helped her book a court date online way into next year? A night-court appointment in a distant city. I kept punching in dates and there wasn't anything available except night court dates, and this was way into April of 2010. By the time she paid the interpreter, their mileage, and their child-care expenses, it was cheaper to plead guilty online, pay the ticket and also pay for online traffic school. Which is what she ultimately decided to do, even though she insists that she wasn't racing through a red light, and the ticket was completely false.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 6:25pm

    Re:

    "minus a processing fee, naturally."

    What a scam, so if I falsely get a ticket I have to pay a processing fee for someone else's mistake?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 6:26pm

    Re: Re:

    Heck, they should pay me for wasting my time.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 6:26pm

    Re: Interesting read

    Hey thats the RIAA business plan too!

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 6:54pm

    Re:

    epic trolling

    :bowrofl:

     

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  7.  
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    gawdamugthafukinsunovabitch, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:11pm

    Red light cameras are a total scam

    Anyone who believes that red-light cameras reduce accidents is obviously brain-damaged from birth, and should be bolted as a result. There's only one way to defeat the cameras, and that is with a well-placed high velocity round from somewhere out of camera range. Works every time. Picking off those who come to replace them is also fair game, since they perpetuate the fraud.

     

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    not goin there, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:25pm

    Another reason to not visit KC.
    I can make better ribs anyway.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:47pm

    Re: Re:

    "What a scam, so if I falsely get a ticket I have to pay a processing fee for someone else's mistake?"

    In my state, the answer is yes, and it gets even better.
    An older relative of mine, whose been a paraplegic since she was in her twenties, has valid handicapped license plates on her van. One day she parked in a handicapped space, and maybe the meter maid was blind and deaf, who knows, but they wrote her a very expensive ticket for parking in a handicapped parking space without the appropriate permit.

    She plead our version of not guilty, said she was protesting the ticket, and was required to pay part of the ticket while her claim was being processed. When the court easily found in her favor, she got her money back - minus a nonrefundable $25 processing fee, even though she wasn't at fault in the first place.

    She's also has sole custody of a sick grandchild, and greatly appreciated having to drag the baby around with her as she went to court, the DMV, and dropped by her state representative's office to ask why the state felt it had the right to first ticket a handicapped grandma in a wheelchair for parking in a handicapped parking space. After she fought the ticket and won, she wanted to know, why did the state decide it had the right to keep $25 as a processing fee? He never gave her an answer.

    These are the things that make honest people go out and buy guns to even the score with redlight cameras and snotty meter maids.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So, sue the state?

     

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    vastrightwing, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:58pm

    You owe it society

    Fight the injustice. Sure, it may not be a moving violation and the fine is chepaer than fighting it. But then, this is what the state wants to have happen. This is why the fine is what it is: just low enough not to fight back. I'll fight it even if it's a dollar just because it's a racket.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 8:02pm

    Forgot to add. Not only did her van have the appropriate handicapped license plates, but this is a huge vehicle with a big fat blue wheelchair sticker on the back door, and a wheelchair lift. That meter maid had to be smoking crack to write her a ticket.


    The way they get all of us is by making the amount of money that we're screwed out of low - in this case, the $25 nonrefundable processing fee, which seems insignificant compared to the cost of the potential fines, which I believe were close to $1000, and because they're government workers, nobody is ever held accountable for their actions.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:02pm

    Re: You owe it society

    "But then, this is what the state wants to have happen."

    and I'm sure lawyers want you to "fight" the injustice. They get $500 and I'm sure they will turn around and give some of that back to the state via lobbying efforts (not to mention they will pay taxes on it, which gives back to the state) either way.

    Instead, vote for politicians that don't pass bogus laws.

     

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  14.  
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    Kilgore Trout, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:38pm

    Re: Re: You owe it society

    Instead, vote for politicians that don't pass bogus laws.

    Let me know how that works out for you.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 11:51pm

    My Story

    I had a parking space changed to a handicapped space while I was working.

    Went in, in the morning, it was a normal space. Came out later on the day, they had put a handicapped sign up (new cement and everything). And gave me a ticket for parking in a handicapped space.

    Needless to say, I fought it and won. But there is no lower circle of hell than any cities traffic/parking authority.

    KC's may be a basement in that circle, to be sure. Not even the BBQ makes a trip there worth it.

     

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  16.  
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    Charlie Potatoes, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 11:52pm

    Jam up the courts ...

    If everyone pleads not guilty, refuses to pay anything and demands a jury trial the courts will implode under the weight of it.

     

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    disenfranchised, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: You owe it society

    "politicians that don't pass bogus laws"

    Isn't that like finding the pot of gold, or the fountain of youth or discovering unobtainium?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 6:24am

    Clarifications

    (1) The first link in the post is to a Kansas City Star (we call the Kansas City Star a "newspaper," one of the dying generation of media that is no longer competitive - according to some) article that says several times that there are concerns about the "growing caseload" and that the system might become overwhelmed. The system is not overwhelmed.

    (2) In an effort to be proactive and to discourage flagrant violators from pursuing their case, computers were installed in City Hall, NOT outside the courtroom.

    (3) The link associated with people being able to get out of their tickets is a link to an October 26 AP article that talks about the revenue earned in St. Louis. This particular article also points out that violations at some intersections are down 85%, which means that not only are the cameras working, but at some intersections they are achieving a compliance rate equal to nationwide seatbelt use, and they are doing so in two years rather than the decades it has taken to get seat belt usage to the 84% level it is in the U.S. One can only conclude from this link that the system may be doing what it was advertised to do in St. Louis.

    (4) There have been 37,726 tickets issued since the program began, and yet, only "some" people are getting out of the tickets, according to the article. In other words, tons of people are violating the law and they are getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar. While the red light cameras may have issues, it is clear that most of the time the offenders are guilty of breaking the law and potentially creating a safety hazard.

    (5) Back to the link from St. Louis. Here is a city that has been using the system for more than two years and guess what? No big protests. No widespread call for removing the cameras. Not a bunch of law-breaking whiners complaining about how they were caught by a camera. The court system there is not "overwhelmed" by the red light tickets. In fact, red light running is WAAAAAYYYYY down. Who woulda thunk?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 6:45am

    Re: My Story

    They put new cement in under your car? Man they went through a lot of work to give you a ticket.
    I would have paid it just to reward them for their effort.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 6:47am

    It seems like the one of the biggest complaints about these camera's is about them changing the length of the yellow.

    Wouldn't it make sense to attack that tatic?

    It actually has nothing to do with the cameras since they also do that with real patrol officers there.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 7:06am

    Re:

    Gotta concur with you on this one. The shortening of yellow lights is unrelated to red light cameras, except there may be more of them than police officers monitoring lights. Shortening is shortening regardless of what you do.

    Now, for those people who see a long yellow as a reason to speed up to 50 mph in a 30 mph zone so they can beat the red...they get everything they deserve.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 7:20am

    Re: You owe it society

    If you have a reason to fight, then rock on!

    On the other hand, if you blew through a red light, guess what is going to happen?

     

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  23.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 8:30am

    Re: Clarifications

    Just a couple of clarifications on the clarifications

    "This particular article also points out that violations at some intersections are down 85%, which means that not only are the cameras working, but at some intersections they are achieving a compliance rate equal to nationwide seatbelt use, and they are doing so in two years rather than the decades it has taken to get seat belt usage to the 84% level it is in the U.S."

    This is not a statistically valid comparison. That violations are down 85% does not mean that compliance is at 85%. I would bet that prior to the red light cameras, compliance was well above 85%.

    Also, not a statistical thing, but seat belt use and red light running are different things in kind. If I don't wear a seat belt, I'm endangering nobody but myself (and really, I should have that right, but that's another topic). If I'm running red lights, I'm endangering others. I would expect that getting people to wear seat belts would be a more difficult task to accomplish simply because of that.

    "There have been 37,726 tickets issued since the program began, and yet, only "some" people are getting out of the tickets [...] it is clear that most of the time the offenders are guilty of breaking the law"

    I'm sure that most of the time the offenders are guilty, but that doesn't follow from your premise. I'm also sure that most of the time that people get red light tickets when they aren't guilty, they just pay the fine anyway.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Clarifications

    Just a couple of clarifications on the clarifications

    "This particular article also points out that violations at some intersections are down 85%, which means that not only are the cameras working, but at some intersections they are achieving a compliance rate equal to nationwide seatbelt use, and they are doing so in two years rather than the decades it has taken to get seat belt usage to the 84% level it is in the U.S."

    This is not a statistically valid comparison. That violations are down 85% does not mean that compliance is at 85%. I would bet that prior to the red light cameras, compliance was well above 85%.

    No one ever said it was a "statistically valid comparison." The comment was that violations at some traffic lights had decreased by 85% during the time the cameras were in place. This statement stands on its face until proven otherwise.

    As for your other statement that you would "bet that prior to red light cameras, compliance was well above 85%," I would bet that you are wrong. My observation has been that compliance at most red lights is somewhere around 20 to 40%. However, rather than your unsupported assertion, I would love to see your evidence that compliance is as high as 85% without red light cameras.

    Also, not a statistical thing, but seat belt use and red light running are different things in kind. If I don't wear a seat belt, I'm endangering nobody but myself (and really, I should have that right, but that's another topic). If I'm running red lights, I'm endangering others. I would expect that getting people to wear seat belts would be a more difficult task to accomplish simply because of that.

    Yes, seat belt use and red light running are, as you correctly pointed out, two different things. However, the method of enforcement for each is different as well. My point was not that they were the same, but that compliance with seat belt laws has taken several decades to accomplish using an array of enforcement techniques, and reduction in number of red light running violations occurred faster with a single technique, at least in some locations.

    "There have been 37,726 tickets issued since the program began, and yet, only "some" people are getting out of the tickets [...] it is clear that most of the time the offenders are guilty of breaking the law"

    I'm sure that most of the time the offenders are guilty, but that doesn't follow from your premise. I'm also sure that most of the time that people get red light tickets when they aren't guilty, they just pay the fine anyway.

    The article was very clear that "dozens" of people were protesting the tickets, and yet only "some" were getting their tickets overturned. To go from dozens to some appears to be an affirmation of guilt.

    As for paying the ticket when they are not guilty, that may well be true. However, the mere fact that the computers are being installed in City Hall to permit alleged violators to review their violation indicates that the city believes the vast majority of people are in fact guilty - and their belief that it will reduce the workload on the court is founded on that belief.

    One other thing to keep in mind with respect to tickets. Once someone complains in court about a ticket, the amount of the ticket is thrown out the window. The judge has a lot of discretion to increase (or reduce, or throw out) a ticket. If you are clearly guilty and protest a ticket, I suspect you will with you had not protested. The court will not tolerate people pushing for an overturned ticket when there is clear and convincing evidence that a crime was committed, and judges routinely increase the fines (sometimes by factors of three or more) when someone protests when they were in fact guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.

     

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  25.  
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    JB, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:21am

    Re: Clarifications

    Here is a city that has been using the system for more than two years and guess what? No big protests. No widespread call for removing the cameras. Not a bunch of law-breaking whiners complaining about how they were caught by a camera.

    I think that red light cameras violate my rights under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. But I don't whine, protest, or complain.

    A nearby suburb put up red light cameras and speed cameras, so I just don't go there anymore. I no longer go to the stores, and I no longer eat at the restaurants in that city. I go elsewhere.

    I guess in a way it is a silent protest, but I bet it is heard loudly and clearly by the restaurants that no longer get my regular business.

    Best of all, the city no longer earns any tax from my business.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Clarifications

    Your protest is a reasonable way to protest. I always figure the best way to protest something is to vote with your dollars.

    Of course, Kansas City is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country in land area, not to mention the largest city in the state in population (thanks to the decline in size of St. Louis), and getting outside the city limits is quite difficult and time consuming. Fundamentally, it could potentially cost as much to get outside the city limits as it does to buy a meal. Bottom line: Your protest is probably not practical for a good chunk of the population in Kansas City.

    As for violating your rights under the Sixth Amendment, I struggle with that somewhat because driving is not a right in the United States, it is a privilege, and has been held so in a variety of legal venues. Because driving is a privilege rather than a right, there are a number of things states can do in the case of driving that would be constitutional violations in other situations. Examples would be revoking your right to drive without a trial, administratively limiting the hours you can drive, administratively limiting the things you can do while driving, and other limitations that do not invoke constitutional protections.

     

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  27.  
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    byteme, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:26pm

    Will they never learn

    It is shocking how may people are willing to blindly believe that nearly all recipients of tickets are blantantly guilty and scofflaws.

    We had red-light cameras in Charlotte for a couple of years. They finally removed them once they found out that they were more trouble than they were worth. The biggest problems stemmed from the private company administering the system "tweaking" the equipment to increase the number of violations issued and thereby maximizing profit. This included shortening the length of the yellow lights below the legal limit.

    The shortened yellow-light issue is a valid one, but not one that most folks know about. Therefore a large percentage of the tickets are blindly paid without knowing that, if the yellow light were at least the minimum legal length of time, the passage through the intersection would have been before the red light and, therefore, legal.

    If you are approaching an intersection on a 45mph or 55mph road and you are given a two-second warning to stop, could you safely stop your 2+ ton vehicle in time to avoid running the light?

    It is a money-making scam of the worst kind. Frankly, I'm glad that the courts are bearing some of the brunt of these difficulties, because that is the only way those who are in charge will get the message that what they are doing with these red-light cameras is clearly not in everyone's best interests.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Will they never learn

    I would be curious as to how the "private company administering the system" "tweaked" the equipment to increase the number of violations issued. In Kansas City the city adjusts length of lights. The camera company only monitors and maintains the camera equipment and has nothing to do with the lights.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Will they never learn

    You said that the "courts are bearing some of the brunt of these difficulties," and yet, that is not what the original article said. What the article said was that there were concerns that courts could be overloaded, not that they actually were.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Will they never learn

    It is shocking how may people are willing to blindly believe that nearly all recipients of tickets are blantantly guilty and scofflaws.

    It is shocking how many people are reviewing their violations and realizing they were guilty. Apparently enough that only "dozens" out of tens of thousands are protesting their tickets, and only some of those are found to be innocent. Seems like the huge majority that show up in court are guilty, and based on personal observation, most of those getting citations are guilty.

    While the tickets may be a "money-making scam of the worst kind," the answer is to prepare to stop when the light is yellow, not speed up when half a block away in a vain attempt to get through - often too late - a yellow light that is 5 seconds long.

     

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  31.  
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    byteme, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: Will they never learn

    Google "red light cameras." It has been shown, time and again, that many of the cities employing these cameras had difficulty with the private administrators shortening the length of the yellow lights to under 3 seconds. In many cases, the private companies are allowed to control and adjust more than just the camera.

     

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  32.  
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    byteme, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re: Will they never learn

    My comments were referring to red-light cameras overall and not just for KC. As stated, the programs have been discontinued in several other cities because of the outcry and the discovery of a large number of improperly issued tickets. Though the article didn't say the KC courts were overloaded, it didn't say they weren't either.

    Plus, consider that the vast majority of folks who receive tickets like these are either unable or unwilling to go through the trouble of fighting them. Even though some of the ones who do, end up paying the fine, how does that imply guilt for the thousands to can't or won't fight them? Perhaps KC residents are mostly willing to roll over and just take it?

     

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  33.  
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    byteme, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re: Will they never learn

    In many cities, the private company administering the cameras were also giving access and permission to administer the stop-light control, as well. Search the web, there are tons of articles on these cameras.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    Can you point to several articles that indicate the camera companies are shortening the yellow lights? I tried a Google search, camera companies shorten yellow lights, and all the hits came back with "cities" shortening the yellow lights, not the camera companies.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    It seems that all the Googled articles I found referred to city engineers or traffic control adjusting the lights, not the camera companies. Legally, it makes sense that the city would do the adjusting. I think someone could fight a ticket based strictly on camera company control of a light.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    Actually, the article said, very clearly, that there were concerns that the courts might become overloaded. The presiding judge wrote a letter indicating she was concerned about the "growing" red-light caseload, which I interpret to mean she sees a potential for "overwhelm," not that there is one.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    Re guilt: I see people running red lights EVERY SINGLE DAY, WITHOUT FAIL.

    Then, there are those for whom red seems to mean "slow down" when making a right turn, or "floor it to make a right before the car coming from the left gets to the intersection."

    Based only on personal observation, most people never truly "stop" at a red light, with many of those being a blatant run through. I watched for ten minutes out my office window at a red light 100 feet away. I was amazed at how bold some red light runners were. There were several near misses, particularly when the red light runners missed the red light by a ton. Unfortunately, too many of the near misses turn into accidents.

    Sorry, but I am just not very sympathetic to people who run red lights. While the red light cameras may not be the optimal solution (I personally am in favor of more traffic police), most of the time they win challenges, at least in Missouri.

     

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    Barnet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:12pm

    RLC

    In all the posted comments there has been no mention of any traffic engineering studies! That's astounding! Non-political traffic engineering will reveal if there is really a red light violation problem. Most red light camera violations are for right turn on red, are statistically low accident rate. Red light cameras provide revenue at the cost of motorist and pedestrian safety, indpendent studies prove this. And at the loss of due process, presumption of innocence and when yellow lights are shortened to insure revenue, it's fraud. More citizens should shoot video of suspected traffic signals and time the yellow with the camera's digital frame counter as proof of illegal cameras. I live in the Chicago area the red light ticket capital of our country. No red light camera referendum on has every survived a public vote. We were successful in removing one in Schaumburg, IL which pulled in $1M in 96 days! see motorists.org

     

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    johnney (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:15pm

    Every traffic camera in the nation should be shot off the pole via high-powered rifles.

     

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  40.  
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    Banphotoradar, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:28pm

    Photo Cameras

    Now, what the cities are doing is rotating the cameras to make more money. So much for safety.

    camerafraud.com

     

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  41.  
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    Passive Aggressive Response to Red Light Camera Si, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 6:03pm

    Re: Re: Will they never learn

    I think I'll slow down prior to all green traffic lights in anticipation of it changing with a very short yellow - you know - just to be sure. Because I dont want to be violating any traffic laws. If you are behind me and get mad, well that's just too bad. btw, tailgating only makes my car go slower. Pro-tip: Pay attention to traffic infront of you as you pass and give the single finger salute, sometimes traffic slows down at the most unpredictable times.

     

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    byteme, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 4:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    It is absolutely true that many, many people run red-lights. It is, however, my opinion that the red-light camera programs are ill-conceived and very poorly implemented.

    Every city is different. In your town, folks may constantly, one right after another, blow through a red light as if it isn't even there. In other towns, some folks are too petrified to run red lights, knowing that other drivers will floor the gas as soon as their light goes green. Each case is different.

    All I know is that the red light camera program is rife for abuse and, as has been reported, has already been abused regularly.

    At least one of the KC residents was able to get their ticket thrown out because the yellow light was shown to be too short. If the judge agreed that the yellow signal at that intersection was too short, what about all of the other people who received tickets for running that light? If they have 12 red light cameras in KC and they've issued over 37,000 tickets, that means potentially 3,000 people received tickets for going through that light. Those tickets should have been invalidated once the yellow light was discovered to be too short.

     

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  43.  
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    byteme, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    http://blog.motorists.org/6-cities-that-were-caught-shortening-yellow-light-times-for-profit/

    htt p://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-truth-about-shortening-yellow-lights-at-red-light-camera-locations /

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123975737976619187.html

    These are just a few links, but I have been reading about this issue, on and off, for years.

    In some cases, the camera companies were allowed to control the light, in others, the city willingly made the changes, to increase revenue. When you purposefully change the situation hoping to make more people into violators, that is just dirty. There's no other way to look at it. That's like when a cop tailgates another driver, hoping to push him/her into speeding so he can write them a ticket.

    It has been shown, over and over, that lengthening the yellow lights significantly reduces accidents at intersections. The red light cameras are shown to have little positive and sometimes negative effects on accidents. Read-end accidents increase dramatically when they shorten the yellows and install cameras.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 5:33am

    Re:

    Except virtually every city in the country has laws against shooting within city limits. You would go to jail, not to mention the problem that would occur when the bullet from your "high-powered rifle" went through the camera and killed someone blocks away.

    Perhaps a less violent response is more appropriate.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    A court is only permitted to rule on the case before it. Further, even if the light was too short, there are still those who went through the light after it had changed to red well before they went through the light and those who rolled through the red on a right turn without stopping.

    The yellows in my city (I started timing them several months ago) are between five and six seconds long. Rather than giving people more time to come to a stop, it drives people to SPEED UP, sometimes significantly, to beat the red. I have been half a block from a light in a three-lane road, saw the light turn yellow and began slowing, while one of the other cars in the other lanes floors it and appears to reach 40 or 50 mph - and STILL running the red.

    It would be easy to blame this bad behavior on people becoming accustomed to long yellow lights, which I could then call ill-conceived, but the fact is that these people are typically violating several traffic rules at the same time and creating a huge hazard. The only reason we do not have huge numbers of accidents is that there is about a full second or two between the light changing red and the cross light changing green. Essentially, the city acknowledges that a significant number of people are incompetent drivers and they make some allowance for that (though people continue to exploit every opportunity to act stupidly on the road in order to maximize their opportunities to cause accidents).

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 5:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    The fifth example in your first link was great. No red light camera, just police going after people running a (short) yellow light. I have seen that in small towns.

    Moral of the story: consider yellow a "soft" stop light and stop if you can.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 5:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    Your second link is almost shocking. Increasing the length of yellow only decreased accidents by 20%. Essentially, increasing the length of yellow had only a modest affect on accidents.

    My guess is that people became accustomed to the long yellow and then adopted new bad behaviours, including speeding up to get through the longer yellow.

    Of course, such speeding makes it even harder to stop when the light is red and when cross traffic begins to enter the intersection - or when the speeder, followed by another speeder, suddenly realizes that cars are entering the intersection and the slams on the brakes, with the moron on their tail slamming into the first speeding, pushing the first speeder into the intersection and more cars.

    I did not see the accident above happen, but I saw an accident recently where people were trying to get through a long yellow (the yellow at that intersection is about six seconds long) and were exceeding the speed limit. Of course, someone eventually had to stop and they did so quickly. Amazingly, the six or seven cars at the light stopped, but the seventh or eighth car got rear-ended as did the next three cars in a row. Unfortunately, there were two significant injuries because of the speeds involved.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    I agree about changing the lengths of the yellow lights being dirty. There are recommended minimums (somewhere around 4 seconds), though many cities have longer yellows.

    It does appear, however, that the majority of the time that the cities are changing the lengths of the yellows as opposed to the camera companies.

     

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    byteme, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    It is a shame how many people drive like they are the only ones that matter. Way too many people overbook their days or don't leave themselves enough time to get where they are going. Many others are simply impatient or self-important. Either way, anything they encounter during their drive is simply considered an obstacle to be overcome.

    I don't drive slow or under the speed limit, but I do drive defensively and make sure to leave myself plenty of time. I also try not to get worked up when others cut me off or race ahead. Life is too short and we spend way too much time in our cars to make the experience so stressful. I just stay calm and don't worry about how long it takes me to get where I'm going. Hopefully, as long as I don't get run over by any of the speed-demons, it'll help me live longer.

    In my opinion, if you can't make it through the light on yellow, without flooring it, you need to stop. If you can't stop before entering the intersection when it turns yellow, you need to keep going. Shortening of yellow lights to force otherwise safe drivers into either slamming on the brakes or getting a ticket is just despicable.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Will they never learn

    In general, I agree with you. I do usually go the speed limit, to the chagrin of the people tail gating me, but other than worrying about whether they are going to dent my truck bumper, I rarely get stressed about following the posted driving laws.

    I also usually obey traffic lights. I occasionally get caught going a bit too fast to stop, and then I do as you suggest - go through. Shortening the lights is despicable, but an astute person should be able to get a video of the light for evidence in court. I wonder if you could sue the city for short lights with the premise that they create a hazard?

     

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  51.  
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    Scott Tucker, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 10:57am

    Red Light Camera Tickets

    If you get one of these, demand a jury trial. They'll drop their case against you. :0)

     

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    The Supreme Pundit (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 4:40pm

    blood in the streets

    These cameras are from an Australian company that supports the Queen of England. Two hundred years and the Brits are still taxing us and we are putting up with it. A few states are judicially declaring these things unconstitutional. For the posters here that advocate taking them out a round to the 2 inch thick plexi will not do it. The locals in many areas just put a tire over (tyre) one of the arms fill with gas and light it up. does the trick every time. Additionally tickets are being thrown out because if the car is registered to a company, govt, or such then the notice often does not even get sent. (no equal justice under the law). Where I live the local hoodlums (freedom fighters?) just steal cars an run the poles right over. but three tickets will pay for a new pole and camera. I wrote letters to the chamber of commerce of the city that has them and each business near them telling them I will not be doing business where I have to pass through any such robo-tax red light systems. And then I spend my money elsewhere. As the late great George Carlin said... nothin is gonna change until there is blood in the streets.

     

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  53.  
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    Pam Poore, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 12:28pm

    Red Light Cameras

    The city has the option to make the length of the yellow light anywhere from 3-6 seconds. The light I went through lasted 4 sec. That would be fine for a flat road. But this is at the bottom of a hugh hill. Not fair. Plus, during the winter months when you slide through the light because of ice, what will they do then?

     

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    john Huskisson, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 3:02pm

    Red Light Cameras

    I think they should be removed; I wonder if they are not rigged to trap people: the reason I say that is becuz I have been sitting at a light waiting for the green light , and when it changed, i moved off and b4 i could get out of the intersection, it turned back yellow, not even a minute, causing me to speed up so as not to get caught also I have noticed on other occasoions only 2 cars were able to get through and the second had to speed up also, I being the third had to wait, and I have been noticing this at a number of lights, one has to ask the question, is it that the city is trying to get more money out of innocent citizens this way, so they can say that they r not raising taxes, somebody need s to be looking out for the citizens becuz this is unfair., unrighteous, plain down-right wrong.
    Will somebody please end this crookedness.

     

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