Red Light Cameras a Blessing or teh Devil?

15 04 2008

Most people are against red light cameras. Heckeven I’m against red light cameras. The long history of increased accidents upon installation of the cameras and the various scammer like activities from the local authorities in doling out tickets certainly don’t make things better for the advocates of those cameras.

So what exactly is a “red light camera?” It’s not a camera by your local red light district, nor is it a special infrared camera and it certainly does not remove the “red eye” effect. A red light camera is an actively computer monitoring system that snaps pictures of the license plates and sometimes, faces of the drivers in the event of a violation – more specifically, running a red light. They’ve already been banned out of Minneapolis-St Paul due the ruling that they were unconstitutional after a slew of tickets were mailed out to supposed violators.

Usually, RLC (Red Light Cameras) are placed at 4-way intersections with 4 cameras … one facing each side of the street. Do note that the cameras in question are mounted up high on tall structures like lamp-posts. They’re usually not situated by the traffic lights themselves so don’t go thinking every infrared sensor (used by cops and emergency vehicles to alter traffic lights) is an RLC. Also, the cameras look like the regular security cameras you see at government locations. For more info on RLCs, click here.

Below are 2 RLC locations in St Cloud, Minnesota, which in my opinion has definitely shortened the AMBER/YELLOW light times. Both locations are notorious for their rather long RED lights especially if you’re heading NORTH-SOUTH (or vice versa) on either 9th Ave S or 5th Ave S.

If you’re heading north on 9th Ave S (Great River Rd) and attempting to make a LEFT on 10th St S, you’re SOL during rush because the GREEN light arrow pointing LEFT changes to AMBER in 3 seconds which takes under 3 seconds to turn RED. Otherwise, both locations have now improved the RED light waiting period. I don’t have to dread driving near it because I know that it will turn GREEN soon. The short AMBER/YELLOW light period is annoying but nearly not as the waiting periods for the RED to turn GREEN from days of yore.

This article on Autoblog highlights six cities that were caught red-handed for shortening the yellow light wait period to snare unsuspecting drivers with fines. Rumor is that the companies that install those cameras charge the cities a boatload of fees and the only way those cities can recoup the costs was by increasing the number of violators.

So the question remains, are Red Light Cameras a “Blessing” or teh “Devil?” I guess only time will tell but for now, let’s just hop on that bandwagon to vilify our cold-hearted robotic overlords.


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