Friday, May 16, 2008

If This Is True, Someone Should Give This Idea the Red Light

I've mentioned my opposition to red-light cameras in many, many posts here (click the link so named at the bottom to see them all), and, indeed, some areas (including Dallas) have started to cut back on them, often because they weren't generating revenue (yeah, we knew it was never really about safety, guys).

My suburb of Garland was one of the first areas to start using them, and one of the first cameras to go in is located very close to my neighborhood. Only the northbound direction had a camera in place, and it was announced by a warning sign a few yards ahead of the intersection. So I was very surprised this morning, while driving down that road, to see a warning sign on the southbound side as well. But when I passed the intersection, I was surprised twice: First, because there wasn't a camera to go with the southbound warning sign; and second, because the northbound camera appeared to be gone as well!

I've read about the idea of using dummy cameras to trick people into thinking that there were cameras around so that they would alter their driving behaviors accordingly; is this what's going on here? I could see leaving up the sign on the northbound side, because many people wouldn't even notice that the camera was gone. But why trick people on the side that never had a camera in the first place? Won't everyone end up doing what I did--look to see where the camera is, only to discover that it's not there?

I'll admit that I'm a one-issue guy on this one. As someone who experienced a rear-end collision several years ago (with an uninsured driver to boot), it's always been my concern that the use of these cameras would lead to more such collisions, and statistics seem to bear this out. I hate that we're sometimes forced to make a choice between what's safe and what's legal. But what I saw this morning just confuses me...

Incidentally, here's a roundupof stories about states cutting back or pulling the plug entirely on the cameras, from Knoxville, Tennessee blogger Michael Silence, (who calls them "revenue-light" cameras. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

UPDATE: The traffic cameras in Mount Carmel, TN are catching police officers in the act of running red lights themselves. Even worse, it appears that the state Highway Patrol (a.k.a. Tennessee taxpayers) will be paying the fines. (Also from Silence, again via Instapundit.)

Policing run amok: In the Collin County town of Melissa, a guy was arrested for signaling without turning. That's right--not ticketed, but arrested. And strip-searched, and forced to share a cell with druggies for three hours. Sure, I've often wished that people would get more tickets for this offense, but being thrown in jail? That's way over the top.

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