December 7, 2016

Red light cameras, please go away

On Aug. 18, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled red light cameras “unconstitutional,” according to Fox 2. If you are like me, you are a little too familiar with what red light cameras are. If you do not know what purpose they serve, you are an extremely obedient driver.

According to the University of Missouri School of Law, red light cameras were first put in place in New York in 1992.

In 2012, “over 133,000 people were injured in crashes involving motorists running a red light,” according to the same article. Around 680 people died in these same circumstances.

The safety reason for the cameras makes sense. Car accidents are a little too common and many of the deaths are preventable (e.g. drunk driving, speeding and running red lights.)

The problem with the red light cameras is when they snap a picture when a law is not being broken.

On a late night, I made a legal right on red at an intersection in South City. I stopped, looked both directions and went. As I turned, the camera flashed and I got a $112 ticket in the mail. That was cool.

According to the same University of Missouri School of Law article, when one receives a traffic ticket they can either fight it in court or simply pay the fine. For me, it was hard to argue I did not run a red light when I held a photo of my car going through one. I ended up being out that money and that was how that ended.

This is not the first time I have been “flashed” by a camera. Living on The Hill by Kingshighway, the bridge work has resulted in rerouted traffic at temporary stop lights – all with cameras.

They are not only confusing, but they are dangerous. I had a friend nearly total his car because of the timing of the lights.

Rumors are going around that the city is paying restitution for those who have been fined after “getting caught” by the cameras.

On Aug. 19, Fox 2 ran a story reporting St. Louis was to pay back around $5.6 million to those who had received tickets in the past year and a half.

According to the same article, St. Louis “immediately halted the red-light camera program and dismissed pending cases.”

However KSDK said the payback would “take some time.” That promise still has to go through state-level approval – specifically in the treasurer’s office, and then to be signed off by a trial court judge.

It is so easy to run a red light. Obviously it is not legal, but mistakes happen and being charged $100 for that mistake is a little excessive. If you run through a yellow light and it turns red, you risk getting your picture taken.

Going to city hall to pay a ticket is a little humiliating. No one who works there is happy and neither are you. It is a pretty hostile money hand off. If you go to court, it takes up a lot of time and does not always work in your favor.

KSDK also said this move Missouri made could inspire other states to discontinue their red light camera programs too.

This is a good move because letting an inanimate object with no understanding of right or wrong be the judge on if you committed a “crime” does not make sense.

I received my ticket some time in March. I am looking forward to seeing if I get that $112 back.

Even if I do not for some reason, it is still a good move to get rid of the cameras. Going back to issue of safety, anyone who is going to run a red light is going to do it, period.

The cameras obviously were not stopping them before. If everyone drives carefully and pays attention there is not a reason to worry.

Receiving a ticket of any kind can count as points off of your license and can even take a hit to your insurance. My hope is that Missouri saw how many people were making legal right turns, or trying to make it through a yellow. I am always going to stop at a red light, but I am looking forward to not having my picture taken.

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