Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Guest Post: Red Light Camera News Generates Outstanding Comment on TKC

I have already given my views on the red light cameras installed last year around Kansas City. The state of Missouri has been questioning the legality of these cameras and is considering banning their use in the state. Tony's Kansas City, ever keeping us up to date posted on the issue yesterday. He received a mighty awesome comment in response that I'm posting here. Words fail me on how much I dislike these cameras. Pftph!

You should be against them because there are ways to TRULY make the intersections safer WITHOUT burdening the taxpayers wallets. Increasing yellow light times has been shown to reduce ALL accidents in an intersection by 70-80%. All reds for an additional amount of time will increase safety in the intersections as well. Also, there is no due process when it comes to getting a ticket by the cameras.

Due Process: says that government must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person according to the law. Due process holds the government submissive to the law of the land, protecting individual persons from the state. The 5th amendment to the constitution says that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Because of municipality’s use of a ‘rebuttable presumption,’ or a presumption that the driver of the car is the owner of the car, and a failure of the municipality to provide evidence against the driver of the car, individuals are forced incriminate themselves or investigate, provide evidence, and incriminate another. Forcing the owner of the car to incriminate another, in many cases a family member, can be a violation of a person’s right to spousal privilege (the right to not incriminate or testify against your spouse). Municipalities use a presumption of guilt, not innocence, and punish our Missouri citizens based on the assumption that the individual who owned the car is the individual who ran the red light. If you are innocent you must provide proof of your innocence vs. the state providing proof of your guilt.

When it comes down to it, the red light cameras are simply a revenue generator for the city. Not all the money STAYS in Kansas City either, as we 'rent' the cameras from a company in Arizona. Why are we sending part of our revenue to Arizona? I would think that Kansas Citians would rather save their $100 and spend it here in the city, where they see fit. Not funding an unconstitutional program that puts money into the back pockets of bureaucrats.

Follow the money!!

I want to touch on the part about making the yellow stage longer, and leaving the intersection all red for a moment: The red light camera at 71 Highway and Red Bridge has its yellow stage significantly shortened after the cameras were installed. I mean enough that you notice without a stopwatch. I would be in favor of longer yellows and red all four ways instead of cameras. If the matter was purely one of safety and not revenue enhancement, this is probably what would be done.

I reviewed some of the comments left on the news sites. It was interesting to find several comments arguing that the cameras made people feel safer, especially at the intersections on Highway 71/Bruce R Watkins Freeway. It's funny, I drove that route for at least 2 years and rarely had a close call. However, I don't accelerate off the mark like a driver at the drag strip the instant the light turns green. I take advantage of the natural delay offered by my manual transmission use and allow for a moment to pass before entering the intersection. I can't tell you how many fools have missed me because I do that. I just expect that there will be law breakers and drive accordingly.

Others felt that the police resources would be better used for other crime fighting efforts if we left the traffic enforcement to cameras and such. I understand such a view, and I could find it in my heart to agree with it in principle. However, in practice, cops on traffic patrol often bag felons, parole violators and bail jumpers. Also, in actual practice, the traffic division is a group unto itself, and at this time, rarely does other things. It would take rearranging and retraining to use those resources differently. And then we would have no traffic patrol--not a good thing.

You'll never get rid of light runners, that's just a fact. Hang up the phone and drive defensively and attentively. Let me keep my constitutional rights when I drive.


Orangesleeves said...

There never was supposed to be traffic signals on 71hwy until Cleaver (well documented) demanded they be installed.

The State of Missouri struggled to keep them out; 71 starts in Arkansas and runs through Joplin and doesn't have a red light for all those semi trucks until Gregory. Skip Slyester was so right on this topic.

the observer said...

Oh, indeed, Orangesleeves, the red lights are a product of Cleaver's intervention. Putting a freeway through a neighborhood can be destructive; they were hoping that it would develop the area, instead of hurting it. Problem was the long delays surrounding this road hurt the neighborhood long before a single asphalt truck showed up, and so there has been no development.

Time to concede the development fail, and the intersection fail, and work on elevating some of those intersections.

Thanks for stopping by, and the good comment!