Why I want MORE red-light cameras

This is the norm, not the exception. The lead car might have made it into the intersection while yellow. Might. The following car? Not a chance. Simply ran the red light, never slowed down. This is at Jefferson & Farm Hill, and it happens more often than not.
This is the norm, not the exception. The lead car might have made it into the intersection while yellow. Might. The following car? Not a chance. Simply ran the red light, never slowed down. This is at Jefferson & Farm Hill, and it happens throughout the day (this was at about 10:10am on a Monday morning).

What is going on out there? 10 years ago I didn’t see nearly the extent of red-light running and “California stops” that I see today. The red-light running occurs mostly on 4-lane streets, rarely 2-lane. And cities are removing red-light cameras daily, because they’re too much hassle???!!!

Two common varieties-

  • Drivers making left-hand turns from a signaled left-hand-turn lane, and as long as they’re close enough to the car ahead of them, they just keep moving through, even after the light’s turned red. Not much speed is involved, since the car in front of them isn’t flying through (they’ve got a green or maybe just-turned-yellow light, after all).
  • Flying through a just-turned-red intersection. They’ve had plenty of time to see the light turn yellow, but instead of slowing down, they barrel through. They’re so focused on trying to “make the light” that they don’t even pay attention to cross-traffic.

That’s why I’m a fan of red-light cameras. There needs to be a lot less subjectivity when it comes to dangerously-heavy & fast objects moving through intersections. I do recognize a double standard here; that a red-light camera can do much for catching cyclists flagrantly violating the laws, but I suggest two things. First, that there’s a greater public purpose served in reducing accidents, injuries and fatalities than in extracting punishment for cyclists breaking the law. Both are needs, but one is far more important. And second, the motorists are getting worse over the years, picking up on the worst behaviors of cyclists, while I believe, really do, that cyclists are getting better.

Let’s be careful out there at intersections. The good news is that potential accidents are almost-entirely avoidable by being cautious and assuming the worst (that they’re going to run the light right after it turns green), and the cost of doing so comes down to, at most, a couple seconds of time. A reasonable exchange to safeguard the rest of your life. –Mike–






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2 thoughts on “Why I want MORE red-light cameras

  1. Mike,
    I think the drivers who run left turn red lights by piling on through are influenced by bike racers all getting the same time in a pack finish. That is if one car gets the green light for the turn everyone in the queue gets the green.

    Kidding aside, I feel that these cretins are trying to steal my time while I wait for the intersection to clear before proceeding.

    However, I’m not certain that I’m a red light camera fan. A while ago I made a right turn into the Millbrae BART station at about 3mph and noticed the red light camera flash. I was taking BART to the opera house to watch the SF Ballet and the whole experience of performance was ruined by my worrying about getting a BS $500 ticket w/ traffic school. It turns out the camera was notorious for malfunctioning, but I didn’t know that at the time.

    There’s also some evidence that locals are aware of intersections with cameras and are very conservative about stopping which leads to additional accidents because trailing autos don’t expect them to stop. (Also private companies administering the program can manipulate timers to increase revenues.)

    I don’t like paranoid driving–it makes no one safer. I also like to know if I’m getting a ticket (I’ve never received one in almost 40 years of driving).

  2. Mike, thanks for posting, tend to agree with you, at least in the sense of wishing more was done to deter, and penalize, these behaviors we see just about every day. I know that waiting for a light you can pretty well predict the light is about to turn green when there’s a car accelerating to “make” the light.

    Sunnyvale is planning to replace a 4-way stop near me with a traffic light and it seems like it will be a step backwards safety-wise due to light running and motorists speeding up to make the light.

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