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Missouri Attorney General Doesn't Think Traffic Cameras are Legal

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Jeff White, Aug 9, 2005.

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  1. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    Well there may be some hope. It looks like there is some common sense out there.
    http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/ne...0DD77EA1C0DC4FDF8625705800511AEE?OpenDocument
     
  2. Flyboy

    Flyboy Member

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    Outstanding quote:

    Hrm...if intersections are otherwise getting safer, but the camera-monitored intersections aren't, wouldn't that mean that such intersections are getting more dangerous?

    Proportionally, it's clear that they are. However, a persuasive argument could be made that, in other factors are controlled, the presence of the cameras inhibited what should have been a decline; the camera, thus, is an endangering factor, and it is merely mitigated by the general decline in accidents.

    An alternative explanation, of course, is that the monitored intersections were less dangerous than the average intersection even before the introduction of the cameras; in that case, you have strong evidence that the cameras are sited to maximize revenue, not safety.

    In any case, they are certainly not a benefit to the citizens.
     
  3. WT

    WT Member

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    No witnesses, a little photo shopping, and every car in the country can be photographed running a red light.
     
  4. Marshall

    Marshall Member

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    Im not in on the whole "camera" thing anyway. Doesn't feel right.
     
  5. artherd

    artherd member

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    Lawsuit! Lawsuit! Lawsuit! ;)
     
  6. musher

    musher Member

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    Anchorage tried it in the late nineties and got it tossed out on it's ear.

    from the Alaska Appeals court decision...

     
  7. carebear

    carebear Member

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    That's true musher.

    The other thing that struck me was the comment that the photo radar vans were parked prominently to "remind" drivers of speed zones and such. Everyone from the company and city swore up and down that "revenue enhancement" was not a driving factor.

    However, the city currently had a multitude of much cheaper non-camera radar trailers that flash the speed to "remind" errant drivers without the threat of a gotcha.

    Yet those somehow weren't enough, they kept mentioning "increasing citations" in the same breath they were denying the revenue issue.

    The blatant BS helped kill the program as much as the "Big Brother" issue.
     
  8. Brett Bellmore

    Brett Bellmore Member

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    Strictly speaking, a binary sensor like a electic eye, or maybe a coil under the roadbed, is a LOT more reliable than speed radar. I see no good reason for complaints on that score; They ARE accurate. Two problems:

    1. Perverse incentives: I've heard rumors of the timing of lights being tweaked, to make sure more people can't stop in time to avoid going through the red, so as to increase revenues. A VERY dangerous way of boosting income of local government.

    In fact, where a lot of people are running red lights in an intersection, this is normally supposed to be considered a sign that the yellow period ought to be increased, not pared back!

    2. You're approaching a light, which turns yellow. Nobody is waiting to cross, you're being tailgated. The smart thing to do is scoot on through, even though you're technically violating the law. You probably won't get caught, and it's a lot safer, right? Now throw in the traffic camera; IT doesn't care that there's no opposing traffic, IT doesn't care that there's somebody right behind you. The ticket is certain, if you're in violation by even a fraction of a second.

    So you slam on your brakes, and ge rear ended.

    They want to spend money on fancy traffic lights, better they put in the ones that sense if there's anybody on the side road, and stays green on the main street until somebody NEEDS the light to cycle. Those are worth every cent, and don't make intersections more dangerous.
     
  9. Bruce H

    Bruce H Member

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    Somebody should drag the esteemed representative Connie L. Johnson out of her car for a little privacy violation. It is all about revenue.
     
  10. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    The founding fathers felt the same way, which is why they specifically limited the powers of government, both federal and state.
     
  11. ravinraven

    ravinraven Member

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    Who cares about the legality...

    ...just line 'em up and fleece 'em.

    I've heard that the increased accident rate at camera-red-lights happen when people panic stop on a yellow light and get clobbered from behind. I've also heard that shaving a couple seconds off the yellow light time, "enhances" revenue by several hundred percent. I'm too far out in the boonies to have such marvels installed around here so I have no data to go on. My brother did think the cameras at red lights were a wonderful idea in the city where he lives. Then he got clobbered in the tail twice at the same light when he stopped quick to avoid a ticket. I haven't dared ask him what he thinks now. He's way bigger than I am.

    rr
     
  12. TheOtherOne

    TheOtherOne Member

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    Really. Well, maybe they just want the increased revenue from tickets. Nah, that couldn't be the sole reason for doing this. :)
     
  13. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Member

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    Running red lights is a serious offense that can easily result in death to innocent people. I'm all for security cameras to catch and prosecute offenders.

    Flame away.
     
  14. Waitone

    Waitone Member

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    Before Charlotte installed traffic light cameras the city had a major problem. At key intersections light running was approaching asinine levels during rush hours. Some interestions would have 8, 10, 12 cars run the yellow then red light. For the moment we'll ignore the cities responsibility for poor light timing. That said, the introduction of light cameras stopped light running stone cold. Trouble is the number of rearenders went up significantly. Another city in NC went so far as to put cameras on traffic lights AND reduced yellow light timing. In several cases the camera was place on low volume intersections at the bottom of a hill with a short yellow light. An enterprising lawyer got busy and blew a whistle on the whole scam. The city pulled the cameras after the the embarrassment got too bad.

    Then Charlotte got greedy and installed speed cameras as a revenue source. Now there is absolutely no pretense. Speed cameras are to generate revenue, period.

    Cameras can be whipped but it takes people yelling loud, long, and in three-part harmony.
     
  15. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

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    I'm opposed to any type of traffic enforcement that is not about safety. But as much as we scream the "it's all revenue generation" line, it is not always true. Heck, most cities of any size make only a small portion of their revenue on traffic fines. Red light and speed cameras will not change that terribly much.

    Sidebar: You can and will, however, get revenue generation in small jurisdictions. I'm not slamming small-town cops or small-town government, but there are a few jurisdictions out there who make the rest look bad.

    There are some intersections that could be seriously helped by the presence of red light cameras, in theory. I'm curious about the study that noted no decrease in accidents at those intersections, though. That is not necessarily indicative of a lack of effect (left on their own, they could have gotten worse...it depends on what other factors are impacting those specific intersections), but it certainly should be enough to make everyone want to find out why.

    I am also concerned about the PC to ticket, based upon the snapshot of the rear of a car. Is it my car? OK. The tag tells you that. Am I driving? Maybe, maybe not. In order to issue a 'normal' traffic ticket a cop needs to observe a violation, stop the car, positively ascertain the identity of the driver, issue them a ticket and have them sign to acknowledge receipt. This system snaps a picture of your car and sends you something through the U.S. Mail, I assume.

    That's hardly the same level of certainty.

    Mike
     
  16. Crosshair

    Crosshair Member

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    RileyMc

    Depends, if you have a light with a .000001 yellow light time an a road with a 40MPH speed limit I will disagree with you. Some lights in my town NEED to be retimed. Local radio station is bringing up this issue.
     
  17. Bruce H

    Bruce H Member

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    What would be the cost difference between a real live traffic control officer and the cameras? If this is really a safety issue a traffic officer makes more sense.
     
  18. Technosavant

    Technosavant Member

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    If safety is the true reason, do 2 things:
    1) extend yellow lights slightly
    2) give a longer break between a red light and the next green light

    That will let the intersection clear out. Some schmucks will still try to run it, and for those folks intermittent enforcement by a uniformed officer will be sufficient.

    Red light cameras are a misused device which becomes a safety hazard. Money is the worst narcotic for municipalities. People stop running the lights, lowing revenue. Then the municipality rigs things so that people can't help but run them or make dangerous maneuvers, increasing revenue again.

    I like Jay Nixon. In general, the man has sense. He did defend MO's CCW law; I just wonder what his stance on the 2nd Amendment in general is. He is a Dem I could vote for.
     
  19. Justin

    Justin Moderator Staff Member

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    Huzzah! This guy gets it right on this one.

    In other words, this is purely about revenue generation. After all, if this doesn't put any points on your license, you're probably less likely to attempt to fight it in court.

    I think I have to disagree with you on this one. I'm certainly no expert, but a wild guess tells me that the cost to install and maintain this equipment per year is probably a lot less than training and paying an officer to sit and keep an eye peeled for traffic infractions. Also, this thing isn't programmed to make value judgements. In the example given of someone running a yellow/red light to avoid a rear-end collision an officer would (hopefully) give the driver a pass because he was avoiding an accident. No such luck with a camera setup. Also, I'll bet that the data entry of your license plate and the subsequent issuance of the citation is all automated, which means you aren't paying anyone for the data entry and all of the intermediate steps.
     
  20. carebear

    carebear Member

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    Also, having an actual officer do the stops provides a both a visual deterrent (the car sitting there) and a statistically-demonstrated increased chance of catching someone with other warrants out.

    Them real baddies and repeat offenders tend to drive bad regardless of priors.

    It's their scofflaw natures.













    Might even give 'em a chance to spot an incriminating coffee can in the back seat. Let's see a red light camera do that! :evil:
     
  21. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

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    Justin,

    I'm not saying that it wouldn't be a money maker, just that in the grand scheme of city finances, I doubt that the money it would rake in would be all that much. I think that there is a point to be made here, but that we're really overstating it.

    Technosavant:
    Again, there is a point to be made here, but stating it like this implies that such things happen with regularity. Sweeping statements like that require proof. Got cites? Of widespread abuse?

    By and large, I agree. I don't like red-light and speed cams. Seems too big-brotherish. However, we really don't help our case by using hyperbole.

    Mike
     
  22. Bruce H

    Bruce H Member

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    Jay Nixon defended Mo's concealed carry because it was his job. Did the job very well too. That said he isn't fond of firearms in general.
     
  23. MechAg94

    MechAg94 Member

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    Actually, those red light cameras cost quite a bit. Plus, a traffic officer could intermittently cover a number of intersections rather that a single one.

    Then you have a plan they are trying in Houston where a company is setting up the cameras and doing it for a piece of the fines. I don't like that at all. Of course, that was last year. I don't know if they actually did it or not.
     
  24. Crosshair

    Crosshair Member

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    Don't quite a few cameras end up with bullet holes in them??
     
  25. aquapong

    aquapong Member

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    Hopefully the AG of MO does something about it and takes it to court. On a side note, Arnold MO (where this story is taking place) is also taking people's homes to build a Lowes...just to give ya'll an idea of what type of governance is going on there. The motion to take the homes was filed hours after the Kelo vs New London verdict.
     
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