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Monday, September 28, 2009

What You Need To Know About Red Light Traffic Cameras

By Marcus Adams

Red light cameras are becoming increasingly popular throughout the United States as the country continues to grow in population. Legislative bodies across the nation will tell you that the purpose of these cameras is to create an easier and more effective way to enforce the rules of the road. Red light cameras are used to help police departments enforce red light laws at major, sometimes even, extremely dangerous intersections without having to place an officer at the scene. However, we are not getting the real story.

Lets take a look at the technology behind the red light camera. Red light cameras take photographs of vehicles that supposedly disobey red light laws. Those photographs are sent to the local police department for analysis and processing and the photo is mailed to the vehicle owner with a ticket. The photo generally has the front of the car, sometimes the backend, with the driver's face in the windshield and the license plate visible.

Usually there is not a mandatory court date listed on the ticket, you can pay the fine and mail it to the courthouse. You can however fight the ticket in court if you so choose. Reasons for fighting a ticket of this nature could be that you were not driving the car and it was another driver. They send the ticket to the person who the vehicle is registered to, not the driver, since the camera cannot identify the driver.

Perhaps the best reason to fight a red light ticket is because no violation occurred at all. There has been an alarming increase in red light tickets issued incorrectly. Just recently a friend of mine was issued a ticket for making a legal right turn on red. He has the option to appear in court to fight the ticket, or pay the $100 fine by mail. If he decides to go to court and fight the ticket he will miss at least a half day of work. Either way he loses in a situation where no actual violation occurred.

There has increasing opposition to the use of red light cameras since they were placed into service over the last few years. In addition to my friends situation, another one of those oppositions was that some jurisdictions were illegally changing the timing of the yellow light. This means that the yellow light would change at a quicker rate to red than it is legally allowed to. This resulted in more revenue for those jurisdictions. A case in Tennessee awarded supposed violators a refund of over $8,000 total in fines paid to the state because of illegally changed timing on the yellow lights there. There is no hard evidence as to whether or not these red light cameras have reduced the number of accidents or actually caused more because people are slamming on their brakes to avoid a ticket.

These types of situations beg the question. Are red light cameras really there to make the roads safer? I would argue that the main purpose is to raise additional revenue to help our elected officials collect and spend more of our hard earned money in a faltering economy. This type of enforcement is actually a hidden tax.

Fortunately, we now have a defense against this hidden tax. You can protect yourself from these red light cameras. Please realize that I am not endorsing illegal driving activities, but a way to protect yourself and your rights as a safe, law abiding driver.

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