Florida Uses Bogus Reason To Implement Red Light Cameras

from the if-you-want-safety,-do-something-to-increase-safety dept

paperbag writes in to let us know that Florida has now legalized redlight cameras. Such cameras are now available all over, but it remains frustrating that people continue to justify the cameras with an excuse of "safety." The bill approving this was named after a guy who was killed by a red-light runner, and was pushed for by the guy's wife, with the claim that this makes people safer. Except that's wrong. Study after study after study has shown that such cameras increase accidents. Yes, those are mainly rear-ending accidents, rather than the more dangerous t-bone accidents, but if you really want to increase safety, studies have shown there's a simple way: you increase the length of time for the yellow/amber light. But that doesn't make money.

And, indeed, it seems pretty clear that this particular bill is all about the money. That's why the state law also requires that local governments that put in place redlight camera deals have to pay a tithe to the state from whatever they make:
With the new law, the state would get a cut of the local governments' newfound revenue source, leaving the local governments with a smaller share of the fines to pay private camera companies.

The state estimates that its revenues would increase by about $38 million in 2010-11, compared with $12 million for local governments. By 2013-14, the state would take in about $125 million under the law, compared with approximately $78 million for local governments.

That's because the law sends $70 to $100 of each $158 fine to the state, while requiring local governments to pay camera vendors in lump sums, not a per-violation trickle.
Nice job Florida. Use the name and memory of a dead man to approve a cynical plan that doesn't make people safer, but which is really designed to boost the coffers of the state government.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 3:20pm

    There I fixed it.

    "...with an excuse of "safety." The bill approving this was named after a guy who was killed...with the claim that this makes people safer. Except that's wrong.

    And, indeed, it seems pretty clear that this particular bill is all about the money.

    With the new law, the state would get a cut of the local governments' newfound revenue source, leaving the local governments with a smaller share of the fines.

    The state estimates that its revenues would increase by about $38 million in 2010-11, compared with $12 million for local governments. By 2013-14, the state would take in about $125 million under the law, compared with approximately $78 million for local governments.

    That's because the law sends $70 to $100 of each $158 fine to the state, while requiring local governments to pay vendors in lump sums, not a per-violation trickle.

    Use the name and memory of a dead man to approve a cynical plan that doesn't make people safer, but which is really designed to boost the coffers of the state government.
    "
    There, we've just described damn near every "safety" law that's ever been passed in the last 100 years or so.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 3:39pm

    Great now we're gonna need jaywalk cameras too. No walking across on red stick-figure.

     

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  3.  
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    paperbag (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 3:48pm

    Thanks Mike

    Thanks for considering this story for the front page, Mike. I hope to see a front page post in a year or two that follows the same line as Arizona where they are scrapping the program.

    I don't know the details, but it didn't seem like there was too much debate against the red light cameras. Sadly, I was ignorant to this law and its happenings until it was passed and announced on the local news.

    I'm sure there are other people that agree with my stance, but what are the chances of enough people to fight this new law? Fall on deaf ears? I personally can't afford to fight this (both time and money wise), so I guess the next step is to find flaws (like shorter yellow lights) or wait for more accidents to happen.

    Then again, this is Florida. We can't even vote right. :) Yes I went there.

    Anyway, thank you Mike for taking the time to do a great writeup on the issue.

     

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  4.  
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    Dan (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 3:53pm

    Scott's Law

    This reminds me a lot of Scott's law in IL. When I went to court on a violation of Scott's Law, they didn't care about the circumstances of the offense at all. The first words out of the prosecutor's mouth were, "$250.00 and supervision or you can plead not guilty and go to court". They just wanted their money.

    http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2008/04/passing-along-a.html

     

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  5.  
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    NAMELESS ONE, May 19th, 2010 @ 3:53pm

    doesn't matter

    in 50 years florida will be under all that melted ice from both the north and south pole so go nuts be all that you want to be.

     

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  6.  
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    NAMELESS ONE, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:03pm

    jay(LENO)walking isn't even illegal in canada

    see we has this common sense thing a happening.
    IT in a sense states that if when you cross the street when the cars have right of way and you impede ( not the definition of impede - to block or cause to slow down ) you can be fined.
    THIS means at 3am with no traffic and a red light im perfectly able to cross the street.

    THE only exception here is diagonal crossings are illegal as the chances of accident are i gather to great. and your going at or causing 4 ways of traffic to have potential incident with you.

    BIGGER question for Americans would using a cell phone , ipad or iphone or text messenger while crossing the street also cause you to have problems. SEEMS america needs more work for lawyers i give them the thumbs up to go ahead and do that instead of ACTA work

     

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  7.  
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    inc, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:39pm

    If they really wanted to make red lights safer they would increase the yellow light and have a moment where the red light stays red on both sides before changing green. If this were done in conjunction with red light cams I would not see an issue. But I'm sure the state will do the opposite and shorten the yellow light to increase revenue. It is a pure money grab. The fines should not be about raising money but about law enforcement.

     

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  8.  
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    James, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:40pm

    With all these cities across the U.S. 'boycotting' Arizona, I wonder if that means they will end their business with the Red-Light Camera corp down there ;)

     

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  9.  
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    Gottaloveit, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:48pm

    Insurance companys big winners

    Insurance rates go up for tickets and rear end accidents. Win win !

     

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  10.  
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    Really!?!, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:52pm

    Do any of you drive in FL?

    Public streets get treated like race tracks. Problem is, no one knows how to drive. These laws happen due to people abusing the common laws of physics and common sense. We allow people to operate a complex piece of machinery that can kill at 1/4 of it's maximum speed (or less) by being able to plunk some money down and tell the difference between a red light and green light. You want to decrease accidents? Make gas way more expensive ... make people take a defensive driving course BEFORE being able to purchase a vehicle and your first car needs to be 5 year old used four door with a crap ass paint job. That's just my opinion ;-)

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:55pm

    Re:

    Arizona DOT cancelled their contract with RedFlex. The cameras come down July 15.

     

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  12.  
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    R.H. (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Do any of you drive in FL?

    Well when you have a street called International Speedway Boulevard (Daytona Beach, FL in front of the Daytona International Speedway), I'd expect for it to be used as a race track ^_~

     

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  13.  
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    Martin, May 19th, 2010 @ 6:56pm

    Disagree

    Virtually everything I read on this site I agree with, but on the red light cameras I do not agree at all. Having lived in Australia (with red light cameras) and Spain (without), as a pedestrian crossing the road I definintely know in which of these two places I feel safer when crossing the street at an intersection.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    So they used the man's death as a moral pretext to get the bill passed, but the bill doesn't address that problem. With the changes in the bill, the man still would have died from another driver running a red light. The only difference is his killer will now get an additional traffic citation and the county will make a few more bucks off the incident.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Do any of you drive in FL?

    Yes, I do drive in Florida. The Orlando area to be precise.

    This issue has been fascinating to watch as it wended its way through the political process.

    First, there is a requirement under state law that violations of traffic laws must be observed by a law enforcement officer before one can be ticketed. Second, a ticket was be issued against the actual offender.

    Of course this upset local politicos wanting to get exposure by pandering to voters. Hence, a work around was done by several local communities to call it something other than a traffic law violation, so they decided to call it a civil infraction, much like a parking ticket or violating an ordinance such as not mowing your grass. This cracked the door open, cameras were installed in some cities at designated locations, and municipal coffers began taking in a newly found source of income.

    Some counties and cities resisted because they paid due heed to state law. Seeing, however, the payoff for those towns treating red light running as a civil infraction, and not a violation of the state's vehicle code, a lobbying effort began to try and convince the legislative holdouts to amend the vehicle code and carve out an exception for such cameras. Believe it or not, this took about two years of lobbying before it began to receive serious consideration in Tallahassee, but then only after the proposed legislation was amended so that the state could also dip its hands in the till. That sealed the "deal" and the vehicle code was amended to create the exception.

    With the exception to an otherwise criminal law now ensconsed into the law, counties and cities previously holdouts now seem inclined to take advantage of this new income source.

    The bottom line, while the political mantra has been "it is for safety", virtually every local politico has focused and touted almost exclusively about the additional revenue it will generate. "Curiously", not once did I hear or read anyone involved in these efforts, whether by calling it a civil infraction, code violation, etc., ever discuss other equally valid measures such as mentioned in a prior post about revising the timing of lights at intersections.

    Without a doubt, what we know have in Florida, while wrapped up in the flag of "safety", is nothing more than yet another means by which government can extract money from the pockets of otherwise generally law abiding citizens.

    I expect next up will be an effort to impose fines on slow walking pedestrians who fail to yield the right of way on sidewalks to faster waling pedestrians.

     

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  16.  
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    vbevan (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 8:12pm

    Timers work well

    I like the idea they have in a few South East Asian countries. In Malaysia and Indonesia I've seen traffic lights at the major intersections with giant timers telling you how long until the next change. So you know 500m aways whether you will make it or whether you need to consider slowing down. Great idea, as I imagine most people run red lights when they are possibly far enough to stop but don't want to risk it. That's why I have the few times I have (raining etc). If I'd know earlier I would have slowed down earlier. But that's a $0 income initiative so no chance. I'm in Australia btw, so maybe you guys already have that over there?

     

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  17.  
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    byteme, May 19th, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Disagree

    Maybe in Australia the authorities have enough integrity to administer the red-light cameras without making adjustments to the timing of yellow and red lights that violate state laws and endanger the public. We have yet to find a location here in the good ol' US whose authorities can even come close to that level of integrity.

    'scuse me...my cynicism is showing....

     

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  18.  
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    vbevan (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Re: Disagree

    The yellow's here are on long enough to stop IMO, unless it's been raining or something maybe and assuming you are going the speed limit. Then again, running red lights in rare in Australia. Here we have mobile speed traps everywhere. That's there piggy bank.

    "15 new multanovas will be introduced this year bringing an additional $3 mill...ah I mean saving an additional 15 lives"
    -random local council.

     

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  19.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 10:13pm

    Re: Disagree

    Virtually everything I read on this site I agree with, but on the red light cameras I do not agree at all. Having lived in Australia (with red light cameras) and Spain (without), as a pedestrian crossing the road I definintely know in which of these two places I feel safer when crossing the street at an intersection

    Correlation =/= causation

    Plenty of reasons why you might feel safer in one place than the other that have nothing, whatsoever, to do with how safe you are (or feel).

     

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  20.  
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    bishboria (profile), May 20th, 2010 @ 12:30am

    Re:

    If I remember correctly, this site had a post about one State decreasing yellow light time. Not sure how long ago that was though... sorry.

     

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  21.  
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    Juan, May 20th, 2010 @ 7:26am

    No cellphones while driving would be better

    The amount of people driving and texting/talking on the phone in Miami is ridiculous.

    Instead of traffic light cameras they should fine people engaging these behavious, they would make a lot more money and there wouldn't be so many dangerous zombie drivers out there, not to mention that the average speed of the city would go up if people were focused on driving, not talking.

     

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  22.  
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    Hudson, May 20th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Redlight Cameras Florida

    Florida had to enact a red-light camera law not so much to get more cameras, but because 30 cities and counties already implemented the systems with no controls whatsoever. The fines were a confusing nightmare and some counties have 37 municipalities all touching each others boundaries. One fines $75 and another $250.

    Where I drive in Florida, I seem to be the only person stopping on red (especially when the green left turn arrow turns yellow then red. And the statement that study after study after study proves the cameras cause more than they prevent is a blatant distortion of the truth.

     

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  23.  
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    Stephen Donaldson, May 20th, 2010 @ 8:48am

    RLC ARE A SCAM!

    The Love the last comment, "distortion of truth" on RLC.

    THE ONLY DISTORTION I SEE IS FROM THE SCAMERA SIDE (and their employees) Who continue TO POINT BLANK LIE!

    Do you all think that the complaints and independent reports (no not reports written by Retting) are going to change that fact that RLC ARE A SAFETY HAZARD!

    My don't we live in a insulated world over at Redflex and ATS.

    RLC ARE ABOUT MONEY. HECK the vendors REQUIRE A SET NUMBER OF VIOLATIONS PER DAY to make it work!

    Your typical RLV Crash is PLUS 5 into red!

    Yet we are finding most rlc tickets for:

    1. non dangerous right turns on red (the scamera act supposedly prohibits this now, but since vendors HAVE IGNORED THE LAW ON PER TICKET FEES IN OTHERS STATES, Bowie MD comes to mind, only a matter of time before some vendor does).

    2. Stopping over the stop line.

    3. Split second mistakes that LONGER AMBERS have been proven to stop. IN GA two towns that lenghtened ambers had violations reduced so much THEY DROPPED THE CAMERAS. IN ATLANTA GA, THE CITY BROKE THE LAW and kept ambers intentionally SHORT!

    Fight the scam!

    www.fcranews.com
    www.banthecams.org
    www.motorists.org

    camerafraud.com

     

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  24.  
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    Joel (profile), May 20th, 2010 @ 9:26am

    In Florida...

    this is being done for the money. I do agree that people in Florida don't follow much of the laws, I live in Miami and some of the things that I see are so illegal that you wouldn't believe me. I walk and ride public transportation and I see drivers doing things in their cars that should be done at home but they do them in the car and don't pay attention to any laws. I think the RLCs are going to endanger people more than they will save because people are going to try to beat the "flash" and speed up when they see a yellow and hit the breaks if it changes to red before they make it, causing rear end accidents that will injure and perhaps kill some people.

     

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  25.  
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    hiptech (profile), May 20th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    It's All About The Money...

    I've lived in Phoenix for more than 30 years and have seen this town transformed from a sleepy agricultural burb into a Nascar/Demo derby.

    PPL too busy to pay attention to anything but their cell phones and themsleves. Add +115F degree weather along with heavy congestion and if you think you've seen road rage... well, let's just say we know anger.

    So, after trying to implement photo radar for years and adding red light cameras several years ago, former AZ Governor Janet Napolitano thought she could make a case for adding photo radar to the freeways.

    PPL who normally would tolerate the worst offenses to wallets became incensed. I do believe if Napolitano hadn't become head of Homeland Insecurity, she would have been impeached.

    The safety maggots loved the cameras and repeatedly pointed to statistics incorrectly indicating reduced fatalities and accidents. They ignored the fact that these were already declining anyway thanks in no small part to the tanking economy.

    However, the uproar over the cameras and Redflex (the camera owners) never relented. These truly were money makers for the state and Redflex. Recently, it was discovered that Napolitano was hoping to proliferate the installation to 150 permanent highway cameras (only 78 were actually installed)throughout the state. The gaps were filled by roving Ford Escapes masquerading as AZ Dept of Public Safety vehicles with RedFlex employees operating them. Less than a year after the freeway camera program started, a Redflex employee was shot and killed by an incensed (and obviously unstable) motorist.

    As I see it, the fact remains we are a society who values our mobility beyond almost all else including the loss of personal freedom. As such we will tolerate almost any government intrusiveness past the point of taking away our wheels. If that is true the only real way to change ppl's driving habits is to incorporate better driver education and licensing requirements. The truth is, as has been stated here by others, it is far too easy to get a driver's license in this country and so we all pay the price.

    I don't believe raising gas prices is the answer, instead stricter requirements in obtaining a license and increasing the severity for non-compliance makes far more sense. The states need to uniformly create a 3-strikes law. If you screw up more than 3 times in one year and get caught you lose your license for 5 and must use mass transit, no exceptions. This will not only remove the idiots from the roads but will help cities better utilize and justify public transportation.

    If states want to really prove to people it's not about the money, then implement the above changes and abolish red light cameras completely.

    If not, they can always install speed bumps at each intersection and every 1/2 mile along the interstates... ;)

     

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  26.  
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    TravisO, May 20th, 2010 @ 10:40am

    Watch serious increase in 3 months, here's why

    Like every city that's implemented red light cameras, they get greedy and you'll have places where they turn the yellow light duration from the safe 3+ secs to 1-2 secs and it's a proven fact that collisions increase (including death rate) when you break the 3+ sec rule for yellow light duration.

    If red light cameras truly increased safety (meaning they reduced the number of red light runners, which in turn reduces the number of intersection collisions) I'd be all for it, but the track record for these things has not been good, and it's been too tempting for cities not to abuse and directly cause people to have accidents.

     

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  27.  
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    nasch (profile), May 20th, 2010 @ 10:56am

    Re:

    I don't support the plan, but the idea is deterrence. If people know there is a red light camera, they will be less likely to run the light because they don't want a ticket. So if that theory is correct, it could have (could have) prevented the accident. However, the real point is for people to keep running the lights, otherwise where's the money in it?

     

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  28.  
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    Henry, May 20th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Politicians, bureaucrats are immune from these tickets

    An article (headline: "Special License Plates Shield Officials from Traffic Tickets") pointed out that "in California there are nearly one million PRIVATE vehicles having 'confidential' license plate numbers that are protected from easy or efficient look up, thus are effectively invisible to agencies attempting to process parking, toll, and red light camera violations." (OC Register, California, 4-4-08.) In 2009 the Register revisited the subject and reported that the legislature was extending the "confidential" treatment to even more people! Such "protected plate" lists exist in most states, including Florida, and many are bloated, like California's. (In California the list includes politicians - even local ones - judges, bureaucrats, and many other govt. employees. And their families! Plus such oddities as veterinarians and museum guards.) Any reporter writing about the cameras should investigate to see how many, and who, are on the list in their locality.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Politicians, bureaucrats are immune from these tickets

    Speaking of which, one of the big issues in AZ was the inequality regarding who received a ticket. An expose was written about the issue and it was discovered if your vehicle was registered under a business, you would be very unlikely to receive a ticket.

    Turns out a business entity is not a person, ergo no citation can be issued. A lot of ppl were setting up LLCs and re-registering their cars when this became known.

    Good article along with some other ways to beat the ticket:
    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2007-02-08/news/gotcha/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Politicians, bureaucrats are immune from these tickets

    Speaking of which, one of the big issues in AZ was the inequality regarding who received a ticket. An expose was written about the issue and it was discovered if your vehicle was registered under a business, you would be very unlikely to receive a ticket.

    Turns out a business entity is not a person, ergo no citation can be issued. A lot of ppl were setting up LLCs and re-registering their cars when this became known.

    Good article along with some other ways to beat the ticket:
    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2007-02-08/news/gotcha/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    hiptech (profile), May 20th, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Politicians, bureaucrats are immune from these tickets

    Speaking of which, one of the big issues in AZ was the inequality regarding who received a ticket. An expose was written about the issue and it was discovered if your vehicle was registered under a business, you would be very unlikely to receive a ticket.

    Turns out a business entity is not a person, ergo no citation can be issued. A lot of ppl were setting up LLCs and re-registering their cars when this became known.

    Good article along with some other ways to beat the ticket:
    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2007-02-08/news/gotcha/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    another mike (profile), May 20th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    red light air-horns

    If it were really about safety, they'd replace the red light cameras with red light air-horns. No distracting flash of light up on the telephone pole behind you. No ticket mailed to you two weeks later. No poring over bad colorless photos trying to determine if the registered owner was behind the wheel. Just a simple clear 140dB message from the tops of the light poles surrounding the intersection letting everyone know you goofed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Nancy N., May 21st, 2010 @ 9:22pm

    Been living with the cameras in FL...

    I live in one of the communities in FL that installed RLC a couple years ago. It's been a total PITA and a safety hazard. I can't tell you how many times I've had to panic stop at an intersection and PRAY the guy behind me stops too when the light changes to yellow as I'm getting close to it, because the yellows are set way too short on some of our intersections and I can't afford to get a ticket.

    Investigative reporting proved that Collier County (not where I live) where there are cameras was setting most of its lights too short to comply with legal guidelines:

    http://www.nbc-2.com/Global/story.asp?S=12265823

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    disagree, Jun 27th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Disagree

    obv you don't understand taht in florida, most people don't walk to where they are going, and second if your walking on the road don't expect cars to wait for you. you should be walking whne car pass(learned in china where drivers don't care)

     

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  35.  
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    Bob Walker, Mar 12th, 2011 @ 9:26pm

    Ban the red light cameras in Florida

    I agree with the comment above, you add time to the yellow light to increase safety. But no revenue in the name of "safety".

    Let us stop red light cameras and have the citizens vote on the manner.

    http://banredlightcamerasflorida.com/

    Visit the site to find out more

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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