Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Running red lights

The city of Houston -- the largest city in Texas -- will vote on Nov. 2nd whether to keep the red light cameras they installed four years ago. A red light camera captures an image of a vehicle that illegally goes through an intersection when the light is red. Based on license & registration, tickets are mailed to owners of the violating vehicles.

For arguments
Increases safety
Saves lives
Reduces instances of red light violations

Against arguments
A money-making scheme (for the city & the company that runs the camera business)
Violates privacy
Punishes owners rather than drivers

If I hear one more "it doesn't matter if you're not doing anything wrong" argument, I think I'll scream! Otherwise, I'd like to hear your opinions.


JamesCharles said...

It doesn't matter if you're not... in Houston. HA HA!

OK. Let me think about this. I don't know of many people who let their cars be used by people outside of the family. I suppose there are some, but then questions of whether or not the person driving is insured. Also, the person who is ticketed can always collect the $$ from the offending person. One might say that solves the $$ problem but not the insurance problem... however the insuring company should still be able to raise rates if the car is being put in more danger since the car is what is insured (mainly) and the non-insured driver is still putting the car at risk.

Concerning a "money-making scheme"... aren't all tickets? Otherwise we'd just give everyone a night in jail. Cities need money, so this isn't a big deal.

I'm not entirely sure about violation of privacy... I think you'd find you are on camera many places. Home Depot, Walmart, Many fuel stations, etc. So long as it doesn't include your conversation and they have it posted as you enter the city... shouldn't violate any laws that aren't already being violated.

Concerning the safety and saving lives... I'm for it.

Anonymous said...

As for safety, I cannot see how it would benefit. When most people run a light, they are only seeing the color, which is usually in the process of changing, and they have a split second to decide. The same goes for saving lives. A camera cannot save a life anymore than the color of a light. Besides, most wrecks occuring at a traffic light are not fatal.. I also do not see how this will cut down on violations. Again the average person is only concerned about beating the light and may be oblivious to a camera up above.

I am sure money is part of the reason for the influx of cameras, even if only slight. I could see where smaller communities would benefit more from this than larger ones. I do not really see the punishment of owners as that big of an argument as most drivers are usually the owner.

I would rate privacy at the top of the list as an argument against cameras. It seems that the grand ship of privacy is slowly drifting toward wreckage in its own right. Plus the fact, I see cameras as just another distraction to a person driving the highways and byways. With flashing billboards now on every corner, advertisements of all sorts, constant additions of highway signs, etc., it is no wonder the danger has increased for any driver travelling for even a short distance. As far as i am concerned, flashing billboards, among other distractions should not be allowed. Evidently, culture now does not value the right to privacy as it once did. It indeed seems at times that you get the feeling someone or something is watching your every move. If you can communicate with someone around the world in a split second at anytime, who is to say that someone could be watching or hearing you at this very moment, regardless of where you are.

R. L. Vaughn said...

First, I want to agree with James Charles that most tickets and such-like are "money-making schemes". That doesn't make me more inclined to favor this one. I don't disagree that if a city provides services it will take money to do so. But some of what cities take on to do is not really necessary. Here in Texas it was not too long ago that any little hole in the wall could incorporate and fund a city just on traffic violations.

I am not completely sure about the privacy issue. How much expectation of privacy should you have running a red light? But I don't like the idea of living in a world where you can't go anywhere off camera. It seems like that is where we are eventually headed. I want to read more from those who are making this argument.

Concerning safety and saving lives, I'm not convinced. If people don't know the camera is there, they're not going to be intimidated by it. Perhaps residents who go through the same intersections over and over would slow down, though.

I see the giving of a moving violation to a car rather than a driver as a bigger issue than either of you. This might not be the most common scenario, but let me give this example. Your car is stolen and the thief goes through a red light somewhere with a camera. The camera takes a picture of your license plate and you are sent a ticket. Now you have done nothing wrong -- neither has your car, actually. It was the thief. You will probably be able to prove your innocence and get the ticket dismissed.

this is exactly the problem that I see -- "prove your innocence". This is one more encroachment our our system in which a person is assumed innocent until proven guilty. With the red light cameras it will become your responsbility to prove your innocence.

Anonymous said...

Robert, I certainly agree with you on the last part. I tend to think of it in this light. Someone having to prove their innocence is an example of how technology has put a burden on mankind. It is smothering us little by little, if you think about it. It's just like other things which start out as somewhat trivial, but before long, turn into a monster. When does the outcry come? After it is too late. Some people may be shocked to know how powerful some surveillance cameras really are. I was able to witness one such system once in the security room of a large department store, on a tour. It was powerful enough to zoom in on a customer writing a check, to where you could see everything on it. Just as if you were writing it out yourself. It was somewhat startling to say the least.