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Oh Crap...Red light election ruled illegal....


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I'm glad to see it back!

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In Houston, where cameras were switched off in the wake of a vote last November, there are three intersections where accidents have risen more than 400 percent. Citywide, comparing one six-month period without cameras to the same period a year earlier (when the cameras were in use), accidents rose 137 percent. Worse yet, there a 350 percent increase in injuries that involved injury or serious property damage.
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The city should have held a vote before they initially installed them IMHO though. But then again, if that were the case I guess they would have to take a vote on everything the city decided to buy. Maybe have a law where the people of the city get to vote on something that is above a certain amount?

Not sure if anyone goes downtown or not, but they have cameras at every intersection. Not to see traffic necessarily, but to have eyes everywhere in downtown.

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The city should have held a vote before they initially installed them IMHO though. But then again, if that were the case I guess they would have to take a vote on everything the city decided to buy. Maybe have a law where the people of the city get to vote on something that is above a certain amount?

Not sure if anyone goes downtown or not, but they have cameras at every intersection. Not to see traffic necessarily, but to have eyes everywhere in downtown.

If a vote for every single expenditure of say, over $1mil, was put a vote, the city would literally grind to a halt. There are few, purchases made by the city that would NOT go before a vote if that was the situation.

Can you imagine what would happen if they had to approve the yearly budget on office supplies by vote??

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If a vote for every single expenditure of say, over $1mil, was put a vote, the city would literally grind to a halt. There are few, purchases made by the city that would NOT go before a vote if that was the situation.

Can you imagine what would happen if they had to approve the yearly budget on office supplies by vote??

Hmmm, you are probably right. Well what else can we do? I was never for/against the red lights, I just didn't like the way that it all started. Something that invasive should have been put to a vote. Now that the data is out though, I am more in favor of having them again since they decrease accidents. If they get the kinks worked out of the cameras (people getting tickets in error and so fourth).

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I'm happy to see them back. Brings in some money for the city, and dissuades people from running red lights. Win-win.

Really, the only people who could conceivably be against red light cameras are people who regularly run red lights. And frankly, those are the kinds of people I don't want to have a say regarding traffic law enforcement. ;)

Edited by Golyadkin
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I'm happy to see them back. Brings in some money for the city, and dissuades people from running red lights. Win-win.

Really, the only people who could conceivably be against red light cameras are people who regularly run red lights. And frankly, those are the kinds of people I don't want to have a say regarding traffic law enforcement. ;)

Well, the redlight runners, and the traffic lawyers who defend them. Not to slight Paul Kubosh, but I've never agreed with his argument against the citations. Perhaps an argument can be made that the contract is not in the City's best interest, but camera surveillance to catch criminal activity has long been held to be legal. And, this citation is only a civil penalty, much like a parking ticket is against your vehicle, not you, as the driver.

I haven't read the legal opinion, but my guess is that the court said that this is not a valid way to terminate a contract. Anyone know if that is correct?

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How can it be illegal to have an election over red light camera removal? When College Station voted against red light cameras, it was the same company (American Traffic Solutions) and I believe it was even under contract. Well, the city voted in favor of discarding the cameras, and they were gone in a few months.

And a federal judge blocked Houston because of some technicality in some supposedly illegally-repealed ordinance? What's that all about?

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Not a technicality. The Houston City Charter has specific time limits for elections to repeal an ordinance. This election didn't happen within those limits, so it doesn't count. The election should not have been held at all.

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if red light cameras were about safety, then they should lengthen the yellow light's time by two seconds.

oh... wait... then no one would run them, and the camera company wouldn't make any money.

No, that would just give people an extra two seconds before they run the light.

The way it is currently (supposed to be) set up, all yellow lights are on one second per 10 mph.

Any other solutions you'd like to try?

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if red light cameras were about safety, then they should lengthen the yellow light's time by two seconds.

oh... wait... then no one would run them, and the camera company wouldn't make any money.

Like that's going to work with the aholes that think they are above the law. Or think it doesn't apply to them since they probably don't have a license, insurance, or registration.

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Like that's going to work with the aholes that think they are above the law. Or think it doesn't apply to them since they probably don't have a license, insurance, or registration.

I need to find the research to link to, but it said that lengthening the yellow significantly cut down on red light running, without a corresponding reduction in efficiency of the tested intersections. This has been the argument of the anti-camera people for years, as well as traffic engineers who do this for a living. However, the municipalities have an income motive, and so while they might not admit to themselves that the cameras are there for the money, the reality is that they are there to generate revenue UNLESS it is shown that design modifications and light-timing have been tested and implemented, and running red lights is still at the same levels.

I haven't received a ticket by the red light cameras, and do (or did) find a certain satisfaction when someone ran a light and the camera flash went off. However, many times the intersection design or too-short yellow was the issue.

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Well, yellow lights are supposed to be at least three seconds long, longer for faster roads (up to 6 seconds for 55MPH roads), link. If you think that the city has been short-changing yellow light times for profit (which has been known to happen in other cities), go out on a street corner with a stoplight and time when the yellow lights are.

Also, in terms of red-light runners: I don't know if it's different in Houston, but most of the time, the red light cameras caught people who were trying to turn "right-on-red" and didn't come to a full enough stop to "satisfy" the cameras. To sum it all up, the whole situation was like setting up a bug zapper and finding it only kills harmless insects, not the ones you want to kill.

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Well, yellow lights are supposed to be at least three seconds long, longer for faster roads (up to 6 seconds for 55MPH roads), link. If you think that the city has been short-changing yellow light times for profit (which has been known to happen in other cities), go out on a street corner with a stoplight and time when the yellow lights are.

Also, in terms of red-light runners: I don't know if it's different in Houston, but most of the time, the red light cameras caught people who were trying to turn "right-on-red" and didn't come to a full enough stop to "satisfy" the cameras. To sum it all up, the whole situation was like setting up a bug zapper and finding it only kills harmless insects, not the ones you want to kill.

There was quite a bit of a debate on the right on red thing.

While the picture is snapped, an officer is involved at looking at EACH photo/video of the incident to determine whether or not an offense has taken place.

I'm guilty of quite a few "rolling rights" on a red, but I understand the law that you HAVE to come to a complete stop or else you'd get a ticket. In fact, I was tagged for this when I was younger, so I know officers will write you up for it.

Again, don't want a ticket? Don't get caught. If you get caught, don't whine about it.

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I can understand why this one company in AZ is fighting all this.. their livelihood is on the line. But at the same time, Once your service or product is no longer in demand, don't whine about it and sue everyone in sight. ATS, your time is soon to be over. Move on.

Uncannily timed article. - http://www.msnbc.msn...s/us_news-life/.

One of the places is Los Angeles, where, if the Police Commission gets its way, the red light cameras will have to come down in a few weeks. That puts the nation's second-largest city at the leading edge of an anti-camera movement that appears to have been gaining traction across the country in recent weeks.

Los Angeles hasn't been so lucky.

The city gets only a third of the revenue generated by camera citations, many of which go unpaid anyway because judges refuse to enforce them, the city controller's office reported last year.
that if you add it all up, operating the cameras has cost $1 million to $1.5 million a year more than they've generated in fines, even as "the program has not been able to document conclusively an increase in public safety."

And yet, in addition to the votes in Los Angeles and Houston:
  • The Albuquerque, N.M., City Council voted this month to let residents vote on the future of the city's 20 red light cameras in October. (City lawyers are still weighing whether the vote would have any official effect.)
  • In May, a Missouri circuit judge issued a preliminary ruling saying the measure that authorized St. Louis' 51 cameras was illegally enacted.
  • Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said he would sign a bill the Legislature passed last month to limit — though not ban outright — localities' use of cameras at intersections.
  • The North Carolina Senate voted in April to ban cameras; the measure awaits House action.
  • The Florida House passed a bill last month to ban red light cameras; the measure failed in the Senate.
  • A Superior Court judge last week struck down the law that enacted use of cameras in Spokane, Wash., agreeing that citations generated by the cameras were invalid because they were not personally signed by a police officer.

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A little off topic but why doesn't Houston have right turn arrows (at intersections without medians/u-turns)?

We do - but you can only have them where the cross street has a protected left turn light combined with no u-turn allowed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Cameras are back on, apparently.

Though I thought they were always on, just not sending tickets.

http://blog.chron.co...ameras-back-on/

I am actually quite glad to see that they're going to be fully functional again. Don't quite understand the judge's decision on the matter (red?), but at least we don't have to pay the Redlight company any penalties and STILL wind up with some revenue.

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This is such crap! I think residents should just start leaving this crooked "money hungry" city! So basically there's no point in voting. They do what they want to do in the end when it all comes down to it!

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This is such crap! I think residents should just start leaving this crooked "money hungry" city! So basically there's no point in voting. They do what they want to do in the end when it all comes down to it!

I'm a total layman, so let me explain as to how *I* see it.

White put in the red lights.

People whined about them.

A petition was put together to put them on a vote.

The vote to remove was approved.

American Traffic Solutions started howling about the violation of a contract and sued.

Judge ruled that the vote was illegal.

AFS gave the city until August to turn on the cameras or else people would wind up paying about $20 million in penalties.

We turn it on, we don't have to go to court, we will receive badly needed income, and can move officers to more needed areas.

BTW: the contract runs out in 2014, so you can protest a renewal at that point.

What EXACTLY is your whine about the red light cameras?

Don't want to pay into it? don't run the light. Seems fairly cut and dry to me.

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What EXACTLY is your whine about the red light cameras?

Don't want to pay into it? don't run the light. Seems fairly cut and dry to me.

It's big brother, that's the gripe.

Do you want fines mailed to you when a machine catches you jaywalking? Do you want fines mailed to you when you return to the parking meter 5 minutes too late?

Do you ever speed ?

You know how Transtar works, right ? Reads your EZtag and determines how long it takes you to get from one sensor to the next, multiplied and averaged out for every car on the freeway. If they can send you a ticket in the mail for not paying a toll, what's to stop big brother from sending you a fine in the mail every time you speed on the freeway ?

On your typical Houston freeway, non rush-hour, 99% of the cars are going at least slightly over the speed limit. We are a city of speeders. Guess we all should get auto-ticketed since speeding is dangerous, right ? Late for a job interview, pregnant wife to the hospital, kid with a broken arm... none of that matters.. cuz you're breaking the law and deserve that $200 fine in the mail. And every Houstonian does it every day. You sign off on big brother in the name of safety in one place, you open the door for worse !!

Oh, but the revenue stream for the city would be marvelous, and we wouldn't have to have cops doing this job anymore, so I guess it's alright.. right ?

Edited by Highway6
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I totally get what you're saying but I don't think it's quite as slippery of a slope..

Also, I would imagine that red light running by itself causes more accidents/injury/death than slightly speeding (now excessive speeding and speeding + another factor is another story)..

That being written, I'm not a fan of the cameras at all and I'm not sold on their effectiveness..

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Recycling camera catches you throwing cardboard in the trashcan instead of the green box... ticket in the mail.

Your GMC Onstar notifies HPD when you don't buckle your seatbelt.... ticket in the mail.

Transtar traffic camera's get upgraded.... You change lanes without signaling... ticket in the mail.

You pull into the full grocery store parking and see 1 spot left. The truck to your left does a crappy parking job forcing you to poorly park, and your rear right tire goes over the line into the next spot. Good thing the store has their "double parking cams" activated.... Ticket. In. The. Mail.

Any big brother sucks. Removal of observation and discretion of a human law enforcer is not a good thing.

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I totally get what you're saying but I don't think it's quite as slippery of a slope..

Also, I would imagine that red light running by itself causes more accidents/injury/death than slightly speeding (now excessive speeding and speeding + another factor is another story)..

That being written, I'm not a fan of the cameras at all and I'm not sold on their effectiveness..

It could be that slippery of a slope. We don't even need a contract with an arizona company.. The capability to use Transtar to fine speeders is in place now.. tweak to the software.. and bam, it's possible.

Would it be safer.... Check.

Would it be a massive revenue stream for the city... Check.

Only the political will to propose and implement this is missing.

But it's not just tickets for red-light running... That I can understand. It's also ticket for not coming to a 100% stop when making a right on red. That's ridiculous.

I'm an adult, I'm an alert driver. When I'm approaching a red, I'm checking out the pedestrian signals and looking for pedestrians 50' out. Most of the time, I can easily ascertain before coming to a 100% stop if there are any pedestrians or other vehicular traffic that I should yield too. And if I can't ascertain, I stop till I'm sure. If i slightly roll through a red, and get caught by a cop.. that's my bad luck, but I can stomach it. But having a camera catch you every time !!! And not coming to a complete stop isn't that dangerous.. you're going 1 mph at that point. That's certainly not more dangerous than every driver on the freeway speeding.

Edited by Highway6
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Recycling camera catches you throwing cardboard in the trashcan instead of the green box... ticket in the mail.

Your GMC Onstar notifies HPD when you don't buckle your seatbelt.... ticket in the mail.

Transtar traffic camera's get upgraded.... You change lanes without signaling... ticket in the mail.

You pull into the full grocery store parking and see 1 spot left. The truck to your left does a crappy parking job forcing you to poorly park, and your rear right tire goes over the line into the next spot. Good thing the store has their "double parking cams" activated.... Ticket. In. The. Mail.

Any big brother sucks. Removal of observation and discretion of a human law enforcer is not a good thing.

It could be that slippery of a slope. We don't even need a contract with an arizona company.. The capability to use Transtar to fine speeders is in place now.. tweak to the software.. and bam, it's possible.

Would it be safer.... Check.

Would it be a massive revenue stream for the city... Check.

Only the political will to propose and implement this is missing.

But it's not just tickets for red-light running... That I can understand. It's also ticket for not coming to a 100% stop when making a right on red. That's ridiculous.

I'm an adult, I'm an alert driver. When I'm approaching a red, I'm checking out the pedestrian signals and looking for pedestrians 50' out. Most of the time, I can easily ascertain before coming to a 100% stop if there are any pedestrians or other vehicular traffic that I should yield too. And if I can't ascertain, I stop till I'm sure. If i slightly roll through a red, and get caught by a cop.. that's my bad luck, but I can stomach it. But having a camera catch you every time !!! And not coming to a complete stop isn't that dangerous.. you're going 1 mph at that point. That's certainly not more dangerous than every driver on the freeway speeding.

Sorry guy, but that's just hysterical talk.

Remember, the same things were brought up with cops first started doing Radar, the same with people actually having Driving licenses, Social Security Numbers, etc. People have been harping about the loss of privacy for DECADES.

As far as I'm concerned, this has been an issue of whether Houston can take another financial hit when we need it least(i.e. $20 mil contract violation). The mayor made, in my decision, a good move for the city.

again, the contract comes up for renewal in 2014, make your voice known then we don't have to have such a financial bag around our necks.

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Sorry guy, but that's just hysterical talk.

Remember, the same things were brought up with cops first started doing Radar, the same with people actually having Driving licenses, Social Security Numbers, etc. People have been harping about the loss of privacy for DECADES.

As far as I'm concerned, this has been an issue of whether Houston can take another financial hit when we need it least(i.e. $20 mil contract violation). The mayor made, in my decision, a good move for the city.

again, the contract comes up for renewal in 2014, make your voice known then we don't have to have such a financial bag around our necks.

I'm more arguing against the fact that Big Brother was ever installed in the first place.. I do understand the city is a bind, and i too don't want them to take a 20m hit from a bad contract, but i'm certainly glad they're still fighting this in court as well.

Some of my examples were overboard on purpose to show what opening the door could lead to in theory, but it's not all hysterical.

Speeding is no less dangerous than running red lights.

Having Transtar team with CoH to issue speeding tickets... Why is that unfathomable? Why is that hysterical?

It would be safer.

It would be massive revenue for the city.

The hardware is already in place.

By your previous statement - "We turn it on, we don't have to go to court, we will receive badly needed income, and can move officers to more needed areas." , I have to assume you would gladly welcome this big brother addition to the family.

Edited by Highway6
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Speeding is no less dangerous than running red lights.

Having Transtar team with CoH to issue speeding tickets... Why is that unfathomable? Why is that hysterical?

It would be safer.

It would be massive revenue for the city.

The hardware is already in place.

It won't happen because Transtar and the HCTRA will not allow it to happen. The software only reads the ID number and doesn't save it. I realize that is easily remedied, but look at the consequences. Thousands of tag holders turn in their tags to avoid being detected. HCTRA goes bankrupt as revenue plummets.

No, not quite the revenue stream you envision.

Frankly, the redlight cameras do not bother me nearly as much as the camera on every intersection in downtown. The redlight cameras are fixed to only look at the intersection. The Big Brother cameras are watching our every move downtown. And, at least you can fight your citation if you did not run the light. The City is screwing many of us far worse with other ordinances that cost us tens of thousands of dollars. A $75 citation doesn't faze me.

Oh, and running redlights is many times more dangerous than speeding. Go back to school and learn some physics...or just Google the studies.

Edited by RedScare
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It won't happen because Transtar and the HCTRA will not allow it to happen. The software only reads the ID number and doesn't save it. I realize that is easily remedied, but look at the consequences. Thousands of tag holders turn in their tags to avoid being detected. HCTRA goes bankrupt as revenue plummets.

No, not quite the revenue stream you envision.

Frankly, the redlight cameras do not bother me nearly as much as the camera on every intersection in downtown. The redlight cameras are fixed to only look at the intersection. The Big Brother cameras are watching our every move downtown. And, at least you can fight your citation if you did not run the light. The City is screwing many of us far worse with other ordinances that cost us tens of thousands of dollars. A $75 citation doesn't faze me.

I did not look at it from HCTRA's side, and i agree with most of what you say except i do want to point out that not everyone would turn them in. Some people need the tollroads every day and their eztags would become necessary evils.

But.. taking HCTRA out of the equation, the possibility of escalation still stands. What if this arizona company, or any other company, comes up with a system that does the same thing without the need for EZtags. If we allow one small-fine big brother intrusion in the name of safety and needed revenue, I don't see why we would pass up on any opportunity for bigger-fine auto ticketing if the technology came along... and the technology will come along eventually.

I didn't realize we had so many cameras downtown... just wait till they figure out how to tie in an auto-ticketing system when those cameras catch you jaywalking or illegally parking.

Edited by Highway6
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I did not look at it from HCTRA's side, and i agree with most of what you say except i do want to point out that not everyone would turn them in. Some people need the tollroads every day and their eztags would become necessary evils.

But.. taking HCTRA out of the equation, the possibility of escalation still stands. What if this arizona company, or any other company, comes up with a system that does the same thing without the need for EZtags. If we allow one small-fine big brother intrusion in the name of safety and needed revenue, I don't see why we would pass up on any opportunity for bigger-fine auto ticketing if the technology came along... and the technology will come along eventually.

I didn't realize we had so many cameras downtown... just wait till they figure out how to tie in an auto-ticketing system when those cameras catch you jaywalking or illegally parking.

So, are you saying that we all should have a right to break the law if we know someone isn't watching?

Anarchy.

Edit: wow. Double post!

Edited by ricco67
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So, are you saying that we all should have a right to break the law if we know someone isn't watching?

Anarchy.

Edit: wow. Double post!

I think the fact is that there is a gray area where leniency can be allowed. The law is not always black and white. Circumstances dictate actions. Human rationalization may be needed to understand these kinds of factors. Not that I'm supporting the people who run red lights habitually...

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Europe is already full of speed cameras. Auto enthusiast websites have been screaming about them for years. Additionally, there has been talk of rental car agencies accessing ECU and airbag module data as well as GPS data to charge wayward renters and possibly to share information with law enforcement. Modern (by that I mean five years old and newer) vehicles store, or at least monitor, a lot of data about the car's motion.

Edited by marmer
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I did not look at it from HCTRA's side, and i agree with most of what you say except i do want to point out that not everyone would turn them in. Some people need the tollroads every day and their eztags would become necessary evils.

But.. taking HCTRA out of the equation, the possibility of escalation still stands. What if this arizona company, or any other company, comes up with a system that does the same thing without the need for EZtags. If we allow one small-fine big brother intrusion in the name of safety and needed revenue, I don't see why we would pass up on any opportunity for bigger-fine auto ticketing if the technology came along... and the technology will come along eventually.

I didn't realize we had so many cameras downtown... just wait till they figure out how to tie in an auto-ticketing system when those cameras catch you jaywalking or illegally parking.

I seriously think that you should aim your outrage at the Feds and the Patriot Act, which gives them the right (according to them) to conduct warrantless searches of your home and tap your phone. Instead, you've busted a blood vessel over a camera that shows whether you've run a redlight with the maximum penalty being a $75 fine and no notation on your driving record. In the grand scheme of things, this is a slight inconvenience. Compare that to the hundreds or even thousands of dollars I now must spend in order to attempt to complete my half finished renovation, all so that tourists may marvel at the 90 year old wood with peeling paint on the side of my house. And, I broke no laws.

On the bright side, the contract is up in 2014. The uproar makes it unlikely that the contract will be renewed. If it is, we already know what is required to knock it out...have a recall vote within 60 days. That also applies to Transtar cameras and others. If you can control your urge to run redlights for the next 2 and a half years, I think you'll be OK after that.

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So, are you saying you never speed... ever !?!

On the highways (not meaning you), yes.

On city streets? Never. Seriously.

Have I been ticketed? Definitely, but I don't whine when I do get caught.

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So you too think you have the right to break the law if you think nobody is watching.... on the highway.. not me.

Anarchy triumphs.

No, the odds are someone IS watching. Its playing the odds. I get caught, too bad.

If other methods to catch speeders/DUIs and such, then you'd find me driving with a bit of a smaller lead foot.

Edited by ricco67
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Houston's red-light cameras have been busily snapping pictures of motorists running afoul of traffic laws since the surveillance system was turned back on at 6 p.m. Saturday, but not a single city violation has been issued.

That's because Houston police have not staffed the in-house office that reviews the raw feed of violations provided by American Traffic Solutions cameras stationed at intersections. A city official and a Houston police spokesman said they don't know when Chief Charles McClelland will order the review to begin.

"The violations are being recorded, and they're being put in a (computer) queue, but HPD is still in the process of mobilizing the manpower to actually process the violations because every one of those has to be reviewed,“ explained City Attorney David Feldman

.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7650469.html

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

As someone who spends most of his time on city streets on foot, I couldn't be happier. People have been running lights with impunity since the cameras were turned off since they know there's a 0% chance of getting caught.

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