Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tuesday Essay Question

Should overpass cameras/corner cameras be allowed for purposes of ticketing speeders/red light runners? Why or why not?

As always, I'm not looking for a "right" answer, I'm looking for thoughtful answers. Support your argument, and grades will be arbitrary and capricious.

4 comments:

kevin said...

I have no problem with cameras being used for the purposes of ticketing speeders and red light runners. Some students recently created a movie called "A meditation of Speed Limit" where in four cars, on all four lanes, students from Georgia State University and other local colleges paced the entire midmorning flow of Perimeter traffic behind them at 55 mph for half an hour. They call it "an act of civil obedience." (If you're interested, it can be viewed here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5366552067462745475&q=%22meditation+on+the+speed+limit%22) One point they wanted to make was that if the speed limit is 55 and everyone does 70 but you're suddenly pulled over for doing 75, why the differentiation? It smacks of being arbitrary and capricious (like the grading of my answer.) You will note from the video that it turned out to be an extremely dangerous stunt as well. Either enforce the law (and using cameras would help to encourage people to obey the speed limit) or change the law. This is no different than the arguments over the current immigration issue. As for running red lights--hang'em high! The thought of being t-boned by some idiot trying to beat the light leaves me with no sympathy at all for this group. It is a serious violation that carries potentially deadly consequences with it.

red.hot.mamma! said...

I've actually done a little research into this issue for work and it's not as black and white as it may seem at first. One problem is that red light cameras have no way to differentiate between someone making an unprotected left turn and someone running the light. If you're in the intersection because you're trying to turn left when the light turns red (which is completely legal), then you'd have to go down to the municipal courthouse and try to get the ticket dismissed, which can be costly in terms of time and may not even prove fruitful. Also, studies have shown that increasing yellow light times is an effective way to prevent accidents at intersections. Many people run lights not out of disregard for safety or the law, but because there is very little reaction time. There's a period of time when a light turns yellow when most people are undecided as to whether they can make it or whether they can safely stop. It's just a matter of seconds, but sometimes it's enough time to put someone in danger either way (slamming on the brakes and run the risk of being rear-ended or not stopping in time or trying to make it through in time). An increase in yellow light times takes this into consideration and increases safety. The bottom line is that there isn't a source of revenue in an increased yellow light, so yellow light times have actually been getting shorter, not longer over the years. The bottom line is that this is less about public safety, but more about economics.

Michelle said...

I'm not going to put forward an argument as time is short but i will tell you we have/had them here. They caused nothing but trouble, half the time there was never any film in them because the States were running out of money!! They'd take photos of people going through intersections on amber arrows and lights and fine them. A million other problems too. I just think they are money spinners.

kevin said...

As an engineer, I can assure you that a very accurate system can be designed to handle this. For no film--go to digital storage (or those people just get a pass--it's your lucky day.) For right turn on red, possibly add an inductive loop under the road that can sense the turn being made is right--or a method of determining if the person actually came to a stop since right turn on red means STOP, look, then turn--not a rolling turn. This is the same thing under the road that senses a car and causes the light to change at an intersection. If they decide to get serious about using the technology, it can be well designed. It's no different than a cop with a radar gun. If you believe you were wrongly ticketed, you have the right to subpoena the repair/calibration records of the radar gun to defend yourself. Just because there's a person attached to the technology doesn't change the circumstances--both people and electronics can be fallible.