Thanks to the technological advancements of the last decade, it's virtually impossible to go anywhere in public without potentially being recorded by a sophisticated surveillance system or even a cell phone camera. As evidenced by the popularity of reality shows, internet news sites and viral videos, many people might not actually mind this as much as you might think. However, there is still one forum on which no one wants to be recorded under any circumstances: red light cameras.
Of all the methods used to enforce the vehicle traffic laws here in New York City, the one that probably causes the most resentment among drivers is red-light traffic cameras, which automatically take photos of the license plates of cars running red lights in intersections. Traffic tickets are then automatically issued to the owners of the photographed cars.
Of all the traffic violations that you could be issued here in New York City -- speeding, red light summonses, failure to yield, etc. -- none are perhaps as frustrating as parking tickets. When you see that colored envelope tucked beneath the windshield wiper of your car, your first reaction is probably to utter an otherwise unprintable sequence of words and crumple the ticket in anger.
Back in February, our blog discussed how safety advocates, concerned citizens and city officials all packed a joint meeting of the City Council's Transportation and Public Safety Committees to discuss such important matters as reckless driving/speeding and the adequacy of current efforts to combat speeding-related fatalities.
Ask any motorist here in New York about the city's vehicle traffic laws and propensity for handing out traffic violations, and you are more than likely going to get an earful. While this frustration is understandable, it may help to remember that things could definitely be worse.
For many motorists, red-light traffic cameras are the bane of their existence, recording and issuing extremely costly traffic violations for a momentary lapse in judgment. In fact, motorists aren't the only ones who have taken issue with red-light traffic cameras. Both highway safety advocates and other privately funded groups have disputed the efficacy of the cameras in terms of preventing accidents.
In these tough economic times, several major U.S. cities have found a new cash cow: Red light cameras that are bringing in big bucks every time they film a traffic violation.In fact, our very own New York City has found that red light cameras are a big source of extra income. How big? Last year, the city nabbed more than $52 million in fines, according to a recent story in the New York Daily News.The cameras, mounted at busy intersections, routinely film motorists as they are running red lights. In fact, there are now 150 red light cameras in our fair city.
In vehicle traffic law news, the list of over 500 U.S. cities that utilize some form of red light camera program got the slightest bit shorter this past week when the city of Los Angles officially declared that it was hitting the "off" button.