Yet Another Cheating Red Light Camera

from the green-light dept

Stories about the outrage over red light cameras have started to go mainstream. And given that some suspect the cameras are rigged in favor of revenue over safety, it’s to be expected that some of the caught drivers would start to fight back. Reader Josh submitted this story about a math tutor, Mike Mogil, who took it upon himself to challenge the red light ticket his wife received by claiming that the yellow light was unfairly short (via the Consumerist). Armed with a stopwatch, Mogil timed the yellow lights in his town and found that the yellow light in question only lasted 3.8 seconds, much shorter than the 4.5 seconds that the county guidelines require. With this information, he challenged the ticket, which was then dropped by the courts. That said, this is not the first time that red light cameras have been found to be unfairly trapping motorists. After all, since red light camera programs can be big revenue generators, there is great incentive to cheat a little to bump up the revenue. The result is just another reminder that it could pay to fight if you ever get trapped. That said, if our governments need more revenue, perhaps they should find it through more honest, transparent means rather than under the false guise of public safety.

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Comments on “Yet Another Cheating Red Light Camera”

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DJ (profile) says:

Re: Too big they fail

The very first President and Congressional members earned a whopping salary of $0.00. Their position in Congress was actually that of SERVICE. In today’s world I think it would make things a little awkward for them to have to find another job, but a $100K or greater salary is F-ing ridiculous!
Three solutions:
1)Congressional term limits — perhaps 4 terms
2)Congressional salary cap of $75K
3)While lobbying for stuff is acceptable, make professional lobbyists illegal

jfgilbert (profile) says:

The town of San Mateo (CA) has recently announced that they were ending the red light camera program. That’s good, but the funny part is that also said that they stopped it because it was not profitable. When they put the cameras up, the justification is always that it will improve safety at a dangerous intersection. Then, if it is not profitable, it proves that it worked beautifully as a deterrent, so it is a success. Right? What I don’t understand is why they are now ending such a successful program.

Blamer .. says:

cameras Vs timing

Apparently the balance of traffic safety studies indicate that cameras don’t make intesections safer, and that the best way to do that is to increase the delay between “their red” and “your green”.

Perhaps somebody would care to check that.

If confirmed we could say that shaving the ‘yellow’ (when adding a camera) is tantamount to making an intersection more dangerous.

Beth Hughes says:

Red Light Cameras.

SIMPLE SOLUTION – if people stop blatantly running red lights -then there would be no need for the cameras in the first place. As a life long pedestrian I cannot tell you how many times I’ve nearly been hit while in a cross walk when I clearly had the walk light and the person turning left had a very clear red! On another note, I’ve also nearly been hit by cars turing right and failing to look for pedestrians in the cross walk.

I agree it’s not right for municipalities to shorten the yellow to below standard timing, but I don’t agree it’s OK for people to run lights because the person in front of them did so.

Fellow Pedestrian says:

Re: Red Light Cameras.

You got it, Beth. No matter how long the yellow, etc. The bottom line is that RED means STOP. Right on red included. Yellow doesn’t mean you speed up and try to beat it. Yellow means the light’s about to turn RED, so you should slow down. And ditto for stop signs. I see people drive past stop signs like they don’t exist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Red Light Cameras.

The time that the light must be yellow is there because you can’t stop a car instantly. The timing is generally higher on streets with higher speed limits for exactly this reason.

Dropping the delay below the minimum threshold means that people cannot safely stop their cars before the light simply because it isn’t physically possible to bring an object the weight of a car to a stop in such a small amount of time safely.

You assume that people are trying to beat the yellow by speeding up. This may not be the case. Even people that are obeying the speed limit may find themselves unable to avoid running the red light.

PhilD says:

Re: Red Light Cameras.

Beth, your story is on it’s face more than a bit confusing, If you were “nearly run over” by someone completing a left turn with their light being red, you would be crossing AGAINST the light affecting you.

People turning left often get trapped in the intersection and have to with for the light to change to complete thier turn, this is know of and expected. If you are already IN the intersection you are expected to get out of the way so as to not block the other traffic.

Chicago has a new (here anyway) feature, the walk light is wider and next to the symbol has a countdown timer that hits zero exactly when the light goes yellow.
Personally I LOVE those and hope that they appear on every light in the city.
It’s REALLY nice to know from 1/2 block away if you need to coast or start hitting your brakes or just keep on through.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Red Light Cameras.


I don’t know how many times I have had a green narrow and a bunch of pedestrians try jet into the street thinking they have right of way. I am upto 10 people run over so far in front of CNN in Atlanta. And I have never gotten a ticket. I have been sued a few times, but won every case and got paid damages.

I certainly hope you wait for the light to tell you to go.

As for the cameras, Some friends used to have fun shooting out the cameras in one of our towns. The funny part is that the city refuses to accept defeat and keeps replacing the cams. A Lapua round makes a mess out of a camera in a ballistic housing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Flip-Flop

Why wait to vote? Walk right in and demand resignations… if they refuse, you escort them out… bleeding and broken if necessary. Bring a mob. It is called a Coup d’etat. The same needs to happen in Washington.

This is why liberals want guns taken away from citizens… so they cannot exercise their right to remove the government; by force if necessary.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here’s a really wild and crazy thought….

Instead of speeding through the yellow light, why can’t drivers just be prepared to stop at an intersection where they don’t know how long it’s been green already? Then the need to rush through a yellow light wouldn’t generally be an issue.

I mean I’m not saying people need to actually slow down whenever they come to an intersection, but all it takes is the willingness to be prepared to stop and the problem solves itself. And if there’s really not enough time to stop safely, then one is probably either going faster than the speed limit or else so close to the intersection when the light changed yellow that one can probably be on the other side of the light well before it turns red anyways.

If one really needs to speed up to clear an intersection before the light turns red, then they weren’t prepared to stop before they got there.

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

“all it takes is the willingness to be prepared to stop and the problem solves itself.”

Possibly you missed the part where length of yellow is insufficient time to stop the vehicle safely prior to entering the intersection.

Not to mention the idiot tailgating you, who will hit you when the brakes are applied more than softly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Who actually set the timer to go shorter than is safe? It was a tech/engineer right? Why isn’t that person being held accountable? He’s not in the bureacracy and he willfully put people’s lives at stake. This is why it is important for people in tech programs at university to take ethics classes. Because when your employer says, “I want you to put these peoples’ lives in danger”, you can tell him to screw.

End of the day, regardless of who gave the order, a person sat down at a terminal and said, “What I am about to do is going to put people in danger. It may even hurt of kill people simply because my boss wants to make more money. And I’m okay with that.”

Beta says:

another data point

Years ago I was busted for running a red light and fought it. I timed the yellow light: 2 seconds. That’s right, two seconds. For a long left turn lane through a large intersection. A little basic math showed that if the light turned yellow just as you were entering the intersection, it was physically impossible to get through at legal speed before it turned red.

I won, and wondered why they hadn’t fixed the timing long ago, until I noticed that there were three other people in court that day for basically the same offense, paying hundreds of dollars in fines.

Oh, and the officer in question didn’t show up, his deposition was enough.

(I’ve also been honked at for not entering an intersection on green when there wasn’t room to get out of it. Some people are just thick.)

AnonCow says:

I’m waiting for the lawsuit against a city that shortened their yellow lights to bump up camera revenue revenue. Sooner or later someone is going to claim that a city intentionally shortened the yellow light that caused their car accident.

Then all that additional revenue will start going to pay lawsuits, not city-employed union members as salary, overtime, and platinum-plated retirement plans.

That’s a tough call on my evil scale. Liability attorneys or municipal employee union members…

Henry (profile) says:

How we do you in California

For those who live in California, or might visit, here is a special note about California camera tickets. (As in many fields of endeavor, we do it differently. Not better, just differently.)

Here they cost about $500! And a point on your license. Because our tickets put a point on your license, the police have to identify the actual driver before they can file the ticket at court. Since the photo of the plates leads only to the registered owner (“RO”), and he/she often was not the person driving the car, about 40 California police depts. mail out Snitch Tickets, which are fake/phishing red light camera tickets sent out to fool the RO into ID’ing the actual driver of the car. Snitch Tickets haven’t been filed with the court, so are recognizable because they don’t say “Notice to Appear,” don’t have the court’s address, and say (on the back, in small letters), “Do not contact the court.” Since they have NOT been filed with the court, they have no legal weight. You can ignore a Snitch Ticket. If in doubt, Google the term.

ginger says:

I knew it I have been saying this for months these lights do not give you enofe time to get though them, why even have a yellow (warning) light if they are going to go straight to red. Those things are just a revenue stream for the city and on top of that they are going to cause more accidents I find my self at a yellow light now more worrie if there is a camera that if there is a car comming towards me or slamming on the breaks if there is. We only have so many seconds to respond to a situation let alone to through in a camera to the mix. I am outraged at these cameras, use them to catch killers or to reduce high speed chases not people who just got caught by a yellow light in lue of bad timming.

That Guy who's royally pissed says:

I’ve been tagged unfairly by red light cameras TWICE!

First off, they ticketed me on a right-on-red violation where, despite the fact that I stopped completely before turning (and yes, right on red at that specific intersection IS legal), my damn front bumper crossed the first white line by about half an inch. Half a f**king inch! Since when has half a damn inch ever been a safety hazard? I’ll tell you: NEVER! Especially when I was the only car at said intersection.

And the second time… well, to just be blunt, they ticketed me on a GREEN light! Yeah, you read that right: A GREEN light that I saw with my own damn two eyes. I fought it, of course, but they called in some technician who presented a doctored video showing the light red. And as you’re probably suspecting, yes, the judge ruled against me because “cameras never lie” and “the law is always right”. “The law is always right” my ass.

To further compound this and show how corrupt things are in my town, I’ve watched pedestrians jaywalking, other cars jetting into heavy traffic, and cars on the highway going 80 and 90 MPH, all right in front of cops who never do a damn thing about it. It’s ridiculous.

I have no doubt that the situations in the towns that other commentators on this article live in are no better, but I urge anyone reading this to avoid the Marysville and Yuba City areas on any trips through central California if possible, because you’re bound to get the same treatment that I have and be wrongly ticketed and pissed on by the so-called law when you dissent. Quite simply, the cops there aren’t cops, they’re THUGS!

Red light cameras need to come down. They don’t do crap about intersection safety, they steal money from law-abiding citizens. Thanks to the two tickets above, I’m paying over $300 a month on car insurance all while being disabled and limping by every month on less than $900 total income. I’m sure you can do the math on the rest.

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