Traffic Ticket Guru's Blog

Seven Traffic Tickets You Should Always Plead Not Guilty To. Part 1, Red Light Cameras

Red Light Cameras And The Dilemma Zone They Create.


The pushers of photo enforcement brought in red light cameras well over a decade ago to cities in North America, starting in New York City and then as the revenue that was generated from them was realized, they spread like a virus across the continent and to other parts of the world.


On close examination of the facts surrounding them though, it is quickly realized that they are the biggest scam that has been perpetuated in the name of traffic safety and have been found to create more collisions at intersections and actually decreased safety.

To date there has been no documented proof that they increase safety and reports in their favor, like those authored by the grandfather of the red light camera Richard Retting have been completely discredited by qualified researchers and in practical application of engineering at intersections including proper amber or yellow light timing which has been shown to expose the scameras for what they are.


So How Does This Scam Work?


It’s really quite simple, the camera companies approach a city or government and offer them a solution to a problem that is really not that evident. They make an offer they can’t refuse by offering to provide the equipment and the installation and run the program and project the millions in revenue that will be made along with the reduction of the severe and menacing side impact collision.


They run a trial program and then publicize the results of how many people are running the reds and then how the trial camera helps to reduce the violations. If they are also set up to record speed they will make sure they tell the media as soon as they get a high speed recorded and how the camera caught it so the scofflaw can be dealt with and now they can help free up police from having to sit at an intersection to catch these bad drivers.


It all sounds so perfect doesn’t it?


The truth is it’s far from perfect and is just propaganda to make the public buy into. Until all of a sudden the now approved cameras are popping up all over the city and the once good drivers who supported them are starting to get tickets when they have been ticket free for most of their driving lives.


It starts to become evident that the amber light seems to be shorter then it once was and the speeds they are getting snapped at are not all the much over the actual limit and are the 85th percentile of the speed traveled safely by motorists. If they dare to make noise about this though then they are lambasted for being a whiner and if they don’t want a ticket then perhaps they should “just slow down” and “obey the law” then they won’t get one. Motorists then become overly cautious and quickly reduce speeds at the intersections or jam on their brakes and more collision of the rear end type occur as drivers are more concerned about a fine then operating their vehicles safely as they always were before.


What Is A Dilemma Zone?


The Dilemma Zone

Before Red Light Cameras came into existence, if there was a report of red light violations at an intersection, the agency or department in charge of them would go there and look at the make up of the intersection and decide whether there were engineering methods that could be applied or if was just simply a matter of INCREASING THE LENGTH OF THE AMBER TIME.


That’s right, you see an engineer would systematically increase the length of time to a point where drivers were able to either clear the intersection safely before the red or come to a stop without having to brake sharply and increase the chance of a rear end collision. In fact that’s what the traffic engineers manual told them to do.


However as cameras started coming on the scene, all of a sudden the wording in the manual started to change and suggested that instead of increasing the amber, the red light on opposing traffic and the direction traffic all stay red for a longer time and the amber time be changed to allow for better enforcement? This was thought odd as enforcement and especially photo enforcement are the least effective method in improving safety and changing driver behavior. Education and engineering are the most effective means.


Since there is a direct correlation between amber times and the probability of an offense occurring, the lights started decreasing to the point that would maximize the amount of violations, then the releases to the media, (who printed and broadcast them without question) would show how the scameras are nabbing all these red light running evil doers.


You see when you decrease the light time though it creates a dilemma zone which as a vehicle is approaching the light, depending on the distance away as the amber comes on, it puts the driver of that vehicle which is in “the sweet spot” in a position of having to make a split second decision to;

  1. Carry on at the speed limit and get caught in the transition of the amber to red.
  2. Brake sharply and increase the chance of getting rear ended.
  3. Speed up slightly, clearing the sensor before the light change but now likely getting a speeding ticket due to a low speed threshold on the camera. (Much lower then what a police officer would ticket for.)


The majority of the people getting caught were only 1-3/10ths of a second into the light change, this is not visible by the human eye and is not a contributor to collisions.  Of course the lights were timed to reach a certain percentage of violations per day, that way those not in the dilemma zone would say, “I never have a problem stopping so these people are just whiners”, when in fact the people getting caught were just as good of drivers. Then the same people who called them whiners would get a ticket and all of a sudden they changed their tune.


Another method some cities, like Winnipeg Canada for instance, would set a standard time for all intersections regardless of size and speed limit, and when taken to task on it would say it is adequate and that it is safer to make the all around red longer.


However as more research came out and exposed the dilemma zone, more camera programs are starting to fall, especially in the United States. In the state of Georgia, Rep. Barry Loudermilk started to see the scam and was able to get a bill passed that made the cities time the intersection amber’s properly to each specific intersection and then add one extra second to the yellow if there was a camera present at that intersection.


The Results Confirmed The Research!


There was an instant drop in violation of at least 72% and collisions of all types decreased by 75% and in some instances became non existent. This was in the beginning of 2010 and has since seen no increase in violations and or collisions and no creep back effect to drivers thinking they have a longer time to get through the light so they gun it. All of a sudden red light cameras in most Georgia cities started to be taken out citing that it was no longer cost effective? But we thought it was all about safety, not cost?


To learn more about this scam I encourage you to read this document which is a short read and explains the dilemma zone in a nice simplistic manner and watch the video below.


Plead not guilty to all Red Light Camera ticket and consider joining our membership at where you can learn the best way to fight it or get fine reductions and in the process reduce the profits made by the cities and the camera companies.



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