Red means stop!

Lights, camera, action! No, it’s not a movie set, but possibly a busy intersection coming to our area soon.
Jun 18, 2013

 

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, would give local governments the authority to install cameras at intersections, allowing them to identify drivers running red lights.

In a community such as Grand Haven, where traffic volumes multiply significantly during the busy summer tourism season, we feel this would be a great device to ensure the safety of those traveling through our community.

Communities would be required to put up a sign within 500 feet of the intersection to alert drivers about the camera. Those caught violating the red light wouldn’t be penalized for citations that result from the camera on their driving record, and their insurance would not be affected, but it would result in civil fines not to exceed $130.

More than 20 other states already allow such cameras, but there are mixed results as to the effectiveness of them. They have reduced the number of right-angle crashes, but have also increased the number of rear-end collisions as wary drivers come to sudden stops as the light turns yellow.

Those that oppose the bill feel it’s one more way that government continues to intrude into the lives of its citizens. They also argue that eliminating the interaction between police officers and citizens deters developing personal relationships within the community.

In our opinion, if a law allows residents to more safely navigate their way through an intersection, how can that be considered intrusion?

Safety should be a top priority — and if cameras in intersections provide that, then intrude away. After all, abide by the driving law and you have nothing to worry about.

Obviously, such technology comes with an expense. If Rep. Schmidt’s bill comes to fruition, we would encourage our city leaders to look into this and determine the feasibility before it’s ruled on one way or another.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

Say no to new taxes

Check the stats, red light cameras do next to nothing for traffic safety. Their real purpose is to become a cash cow for the municipality that installs them.

16damons

Bingo!

newspaperlawyer

Do some investigating into this... Several cities across the US are removing them do to the costs and the court battles that it causes.

Barb Herron

I was taught that a yellow light means prepare to stop... Not to go like Hell....

GHJames

Bad, bad, bad idea. Slippery slope and all...

GHTwpResident3518

Not only do the cameras not prevent accidents, there are numerous cases showing that they actually INCREASE the number of accidents. Many drivers become distracted by the presence of the cameras (or the signs alerting them to the cameras) and slam on the brakes abruptly. I've seen it happen and it's a disaster. Much more dangerous overall than a random car going through a light a split second too late. Additionally, after dark the cameras blast a bright light at any car that passes through the red light. This is very disruptive - not only to the car that drove through - but also to every car in the vicinity of the intersection. In respose to the Tribune's editorial, this is most certainly "an intrusion." If anyone else on the side of the road blasted an intense light at all the cars, that person would certainly be considered liable for putting drivers' safety at risk!
Just as one example, according to an article about West Palm Beach, crashes nearly DOUBLED after the installation of such cameras (from 36 to 66), between February 2011 and January 2013. There are many other instances in other locations.
Also, if the supposed need for such lights is the increased traffic during the summer or due to tourists, during times when traffic is heaviest it is also incredibly SLOW.
Something for GH city council to consider.. and a tip to anyone who may receive such a ticket in the future.. Since there is technically no policeman on duty to witness the "violation," anyone with half a brain can go to court to contest the fine. There are countless legal precedents for getting the fine dismissed. All this does is rack up court costs for the city.
These cameras are simply a money-making venture for the red light companies. Many municipalities find themselves spending even more money in legal fees to get out of their contracts and restore normal driving conditions, once they find that the cameras are a nuisance and traffic risk.
If the city needs money so badly, they should go after the thief that stole the fireworks money and then skipped town!

GHJames

Just remember, this article is about the State not the City. Anything that would go on US-31 would be put there by MDOT not GH City, and where else in town would you justify cameras for this.
Another thing to think about the next time you drive through US-31 at Jackson St. is to stop in Walgreens lot and look up around the intersection. MDOT already has several cameras there to monitor traffic. Given the Federal Government's recent behavior, how long before they hi-jack these like they did our phone data?

GHTwpResident3518

PS Thank you, Trib, for the new Edit button! :)

Cheryl Welch

You're welcome, GHTwpResident3518. :)

jcwconsult

I am the National Motorists Association member who has been in Lansing opposing this bill. Red light cameras are "sold" on the basis of safety, but the "sale" is false. There is one, and only one, reason to use ticket cameras - money. In virtually every case, greater safety and fewer red light violations can be achieved with simple inexpensive engineering changes, compared to using ticket cameras for money.

Cameras often raise the total crash rates. Vendors show videos of terrible t-bone crashes in their sales pitch, crashes recorded by the red light cameras that did NOT prevent the crashes. Using safer longer yellow intervals almost always reduces violations by more than the cameras.

Red light cameras are for-profit business partnerships between camera companies, the state, and cities willing to deliberately mis-engineer their traffic lights and intersections to cause more camera tickets to achieve the real purpose for cameras -- money.

Please go to our website www.motorists.org for the science and the research behind engineering traffic lights for safety, not revenue.

James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

GHSkyGuy

Red light cameras are no different than "smart meters". There only purpose is to bring in money. Nothing safe about either one of them.

A $130.00 ticket would probably net the city $10.00

Psmith

Would it not be easier the make the yellow light go a little longer then if you run the red light they have a better reason to use this method in the future....

my only reason is that i do alot of driving in this area for my job and it seems like the lights just change so fast on certain ones

GH55

So, how do you fix this then? There is a rare day you do not see someone come blasting through a red light! A good example is Hayes and US-31, that thing has a 2 second overlap also. So, To br going through when the light is green for the cross street is not a split second mistake! That is a willful disregard for everyone else on the road!
According to the Michigan Vehicle code it is illegal to enter an intersection on yellow if you can safely stop! It says nothing about speeding [ to avoid because you know there is an overlap in the light timing.
Another issue is people driving on US-31, usually as we all know above the posted limit of 55mph, no that yellow light will not seem long enough! You are going too fast!
Another issue is people not paying attention! If the light has been green for you before you noticed, or for a long time, then you should drive as if the light will change! Prepare to stop!
These traffic cameras are a response to the willful disregard that has become our traffic system. Stop signs, and traffic signals! Cruise on through!
The only time, it seems, that someone gets a traffic ticket for running a red light is if it causes an crash. We have many radar setups everywherefor speeding, do we have regular red light observation? I would suggest sitting on the east side of US-31 at Hayes! Good one for that!
As always, if you don't have an alternate suggestion as to how to fix the problem, how can you just say no?

Say no to new taxes

Simple solution to the problem at US 31 and Hayes, have the police enforce existing traffic laws. Check the timing of the stop light at U.S. 31 and Port Sheldon Road, the scene of several horrific crashes. The legal approach speed is way to high for the length of that yellow light, causing drivers to just run right through it because they don't want to try a panic stop. Add a wet road surface and the problem gets magnified. Longer yellows are an easy and cheap fix for many of these intersections, we don't need "cash cow" red light cameras.

GH55

The real reason I see, is exceeding the speed limit and inattentiveness! If you know that light has been green for a long time as you approach, you better think, perhaps I may have to stop soon! Most would rather just blast through because the chances of getting caught are quite low.
Another aspect of US-31 and Port Sheldon is that the light is in the middle of nowhere! Cruising along, then you have to stop for usually nothing! Just look at the skid marks on the highway and realize what may be coming behind you when you do stop.
Blowing through stop lights is not the fault of the timing of the stop light in the vast percentage of cases! Take responsibility for draing your own vehicle. Its not the vehicle that is taking you for a ride, you are driving the vehicle, no matter how "accidents" are reported in the news.

winggirl

As long as the government is doing it to keep me safe I will give up my freedom. [End of sarcasm.]

Big Brother is coming . . .

MR. WILLIAMS

Oh how I love the pointless point of, “Well, if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.” Except at every light and intersection the American Public seems to be willing to give up more and more Civil Rights and Freedoms in the name of, Safety, Security, and Fight Terrorism, Fight Terrorism! These are the new mantra’s instituted by our Government over the last 15 years and they have a large percentage of the public who have joined The Church Of The 3 Mantra’s, “Safety, Security, Fight Terrorism” and the main doctrine of this church is, “Always keep the people in fear.” I do agree that drivers in Grand Haven do have their special drivers license called, “The Grand Haven Drivers License” (GHDL) where people with this special license no longer have to Stop at Stop signs and can go through red Traffic Signals as well, but that’s not all! They can park in Handicap Parking Places even though they are not Handicapped, they have special permission to park and leave their car in marked Fire Lanes such as at Meijer’s and the Hospital, they can use their cell phone for as long as they wish parked at a Stop sign or staying parked at a Traffic Signal long after the light has changed to Green and also use their cell phone in any manner while driving between Grand Haven and Muskegon on the highway where the speed limit is 70 but they are allowed to travel at 35 mph to 40 mph even in the passing lane, and park sideways or on an angle taking up 2 to 3 parking spaces if they own a Cadillac or other expensive car because they are in a class of their own. These are just a few of the many rights people have when possessing a GHDL so there’s really no need to waste all that money on “Red Light Cameras.” I think that money could be better spent in Grand Haven by heating Beacon Boulevard between Robbins Rd. and the Bridge, after all, it’s only a little over 2 miles and what better way to welcome winter travelers with snow & ice free roads for 2 1/2 miles of warm roads and smiles! Yeah! That’s the Ticket! Or Not.

AtomicRooster

What's wrong with the old fashioned way of the police actually catching someone running a red light or stop sign? Police need to earn their money and from what I have seen most of them should feel guilty accepting their payroll checks. Putting up cameras in my opinion is a form of communism. And makes George Orwell's book/movie "1984" a reality. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? One would have doubts at this stage of the game.

 

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