Thursday, May 22, 2008

Red Light District

A proposed law that would let Sangamon and several other counties install cameras to catch motorists who run red lights advanced Wednesday in the General Assembly, but it remains a work in progress.
The reality (elsewhere, anyway):

One of the most powerful selling points for photo enforcement systems, which now monitor 175 intersections in Los Angeles County and hundreds more across the United States, has been the promise of reducing collisions caused by drivers barreling through red lights.

But it is the right-turn infraction — a frequently misunderstood and less pressing safety concern — that drives tickets and revenue in the nation's second-biggest city and at least half a dozen others across the county.

....The city of Los Angeles issued more than 30,000 photo tickets last year at 32 camera-equipped intersections. About eight in 10 involved right turns, said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Matthew MacWillie, the program's co-coordinator.
Yes, technically not coming to a full stop when making a right turn on red is a violation of the law. I once got a ticket for making a rolling stop and then a right turn at a stop sign in New Berlin, so I know. But this really is a very, very minor safety concern. In my case, I looked, nearly stopped and kept going because there was absolutely nothing coming. I got the ticket but there was no safety issue. And that’s the case with most of the not-quite-stopped right turns on red.

So if 80% of violations at a red light are these sorts of things, I think it becomes more of a revenue generator than a safety enforcer. That’s not to say I wouldn’t love to catch every SOB the genuinely blows through a red light, but let’s be reasonable about what is and is not a safety concern.

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