Red Light Cameras

29 May

The City wants to install them at certain intersections, and the state legislature is balking; the bill is stuck in committee. I’m not a fan of traffic control cameras for two reasons.

Firstly, they take away the police officer’s discretion as to whether a ticket is given.

Secondly, they don’t target the offending driver; they target the car.

In a bow to some of the controversies surrounding red light camera programs, Buffalo has agreed that it would treat red light infractions as violations, like parking tickets, meaning that no points would be added to a driver’s license.

However, that means the car owner is legally responsible for paying the ticket, no matter who was driving at the time.

The city says it won’t photograph the driver but would record only the license plate from behind.

How soon before that’s amended to provide for it to be a no-points moving violation? Then on to points?

9 Responses to “Red Light Cameras”

  1. hank kaczmarek May 29, 2007 at 11:59 am #

    I knew I’d see the day.
    They have become quite profitable in Buffalo South.

    About 1999, Charlotte installed 13 Red Light Cameras. This wasn’t done to increase profit, as they were placed in the 13 intersections where the most accidents took place. Places so bad for traffic that any Native Buffalonian traveling through them on a house/job hunting trip would get back on the interstate and head home.

    Local ‘necks found out you can shoot at these cameras with .45ACP’s and they still work.

    The fine was set at 50.00 NO POINTS. These take 2 pics. One of the license plate from the rear (NC has no front plate), and one take a pic of the vehicle with a clear shot of the driver. In the 18 odd months that I commuted to Charlotte, I never got a ticket. It has to be RED before it will take the pic. NC law says yellow means proceed with caution, not prepare to stop. All depends on how they are set up, and which company is used.

    Then, of course, the “Uptown Crowd” decided that installing more cameras will increase profit. Now I belive there’s about 40 red light cameras in the city limits, bringing in several hundred K per year in income.

    If they are used sparingly, to keep folks more honest in areas where crashes are common, I would have no argument against them.

    Now Charlotte has the “Roving Speeding Camera”. A non-descript van is placed on the shoulder, and if you’re over the limit, it will take both pictures like the red light camera does, including a pic of the radar gun reading when you went by. This is a little too “big Brother” for me.

  2. dougk May 29, 2007 at 12:53 pm #

    don’t radar guns ‘target’ the car? your position please?

  3. BuffaloPundit May 29, 2007 at 1:13 pm #

    Yes, radar guns target the car. The officer then pursues the car and has a talk with the motorist. The motorist then either may or may not get the ticket, depending on the officer’s discretion. That same discretion is in play when determining which car to pull over. I often find that 80+ is the trigger on the Thruway.

  4. Rifle Dude May 29, 2007 at 1:45 pm #

    Discretion????….lol BPD has too much discretion as it is now… There is a two class system in Buffalo. Cameras would force uniform enforcement (i.e. fairness).

    I’m surprised an officer of the court, an attorney, would argue in favor of a system that allows “arbitrary and capricious” enforcement of the law. But then again, WNY is a place that would make even the most entertaining Grisham novel look tame.

    I suppose BP, unknown to him, belongs to a privileged class that is not always held accountable for their actions and thus his concern. I belong to the rank and file and welcome uniform enforcement of the law… I like the overwhelming majority of this city am held accountable for even the most remote infractions of the law (i.e. parking).

    Is it not time that one city has one standard?

  5. Dan May 30, 2007 at 3:29 am #

    How unfair! Just think – Byron would have been responsible for the ticket when someone stole his car. Oh…never mind…

  6. jen May 30, 2007 at 8:57 am #

    We have red light cameras here in Savannah, Ga. and I luve ’em. They have stopped the blatant running of red lights and have transformed many a dangerous intersection. As opposed to a cop, they are always on duty. I am not sure Buffalo needs them though because I have not seen drivers there run red lights the way I have seen them do here.

  7. Ward May 30, 2007 at 12:59 pm #

    There is something fundamentally wrong about using the criminal justice system primarily as a revenue tool. This practice has led to the institution of speed traps in rural areas (the limit goes from 55 to 25 for a span of a hundred yards, where the “lokel yokel” sits with his radar gun sterilizing him by the hour) which have diminished our respect for the rule of law.
    Red light cameras are generally installed and administered by private contractors who are interested in–safety of the motoring public? Nah–dollars, millions of dollars. The standard contract prohibits the municipality from adjusting the sequencing or timing of the traffic signal–even when the city determines, for example, that the length of the yellow period needs to be greater in order to give adequate warning to approaching motorists.
    Do you want your motoring safety subject to the fiscal insistance of some company whose sole purpose is to levy as many fines as possible? Not me.
    Currently the New York Criminal Procedure Law provides that a traffic summons can only be issued by a police officer in whose presence an offense was committed. The purpose is to ensure against prosecution based on guess and surmise–a heck of a good idea, even if we do see poor slobs written up all the time by a cop who arrives at the scene of a one-car MVA about twenty minutes after the wheels stop spinning. If Byron gets his way, you’ll be getting a summons in the mail about two weeks after your brother Louie borrows your car to stock up on Molson’s. Great.
    I guess Byron figures that if his son can get shagged before the Bar of Justice by a private security cam, so should everybody–especially those “commuters coming in to the City”.

  8. Edie May 30, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    We now have traffic cameras all over the NYS thruway around the Buffalo 90 and 290. I wonder if they are giving out speeding tickets with these camera?


  1. Buffalo Geek » Blog Archive » How to Beat the Cameras - May 29, 2007

    […] BP doesn’t like the idea of Stop Light cameras. Personally, this concept does not phase me either way. I personally do not believe any of the slippery slope theories. Set them up, and you’ll have people timing the yellow light at non camera locations to prove that the camera ones are set short to make more money. Or arguing the placement. One commenter lets you know that shooting the camera does not work. You have the usual privileged class cheap shot. Best part? On the side bar there is an ad for something to beat traffic camera tickets. Only in America. […]

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