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Red-light cameras - for or against?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Red-light cameras - for or against?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
January 31, 2010

Read this morning's article on http://villageofislandlake.blogspot.com/2010/01/red-light-cameras-under-scrutiny-in.html about Illinois Sen. Dan Duffy's effort to repeal red-light camera enforcement laws. Sen. Duffy wants drivers to contact their legislators and stir up support for his bill.

He stirred me up, all right. And I’ve already emailed Sen. Althoff to ask her to oppose his proposed legislation.

Sen. Duffy is pushing SB 2466, which would do away with red-light cameras at intersections. He thinks they have caused an increase in intersection accidents. He’s missing the point. There are fewer accidents, because drivers have increased their awareness that the yellow light means slow and stop, not stomp on the accelerator.

Of course, there are still a few reckless drivers who do step on the gas, even when they aren’t the first car in line to go on through the light. Some of them even swerve around the law-abiding driver who approaches a “stale” green cautiously, in anticipation of its changing to yellow and then to red.

Red-light cameras catch violators, plain and simple. A driver at the speed limit, who is alert as he approaches an intersection, has plenty of time to slow and stop, if the light changes to yellow as he approaches. Yes, they scream bloody murder, if they get caught running a red. Maybe, if they’d put down the coffee, McBreakfast, cell phone, map, iPod, BlackBerry, etc. and pay 100% attention to the driving, they wouldn’t find themselves on top of a red light and get caught running it.

Red-light cameras are safer than a cop sitting there. First, the cop has to make a decision about whether the driver violated the red light. Then he has to decide if it is safe to run him down. The cop will be on the wrong side of the intersection to pursue; he’ll be where he could see the light change to red and the driver proceed through it. Then he’ll have to pull out, cross the intersection with emergency lights and possibly siren (risking an intersection accident with unsuspecting cross-traffic), and chase down the violator and find a safe place to pull him over.

Drivers are provided a video as proof of the violation. It’s right there, clear as day. With most of the red-light tickets, I’ll bet that there is little defense.

So, where’s the beef?

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