The Illogic of Red Light Cameras

By Deane Barker

I don’t believe in traffic cameras.  These are the contraptions that take a picture of cars that speed or run red lights, then send the owner a ticket in the mail.  These things need to end.

I’m not opposed to them because of privacy concerns.  I’m not on a high horse about too much government.  I’m not worried about my liberty.  I’m not even bothered by the massive percentage of ticket fees the camera companies keep.  (Though, other people are.)

These things have got to go because they are an insult to simple logic.

We do not give tickets to vehicles.  We give tickets to drivers.  And a traffic camera can tell very clearly what vehicle violated the law, however it cannot reliably tell what driver violated the law.

I’ve been caught by these things twice.  At the same intersection.  Both times it was because I was turning right on red, which I didn’t notice wasn’t allowed.  I did it in two different directions over the course of a couple months.

On both occasions, the ticket came in the mail.  There was a picture of my car, clear as day.

However, what wasn’t clear was who was driving the car.  I’m assuming it was me, but there’s no way the traffic camera could know.  In neither picture was the driver depicted clearly enough to identify them.

At the time, I had a 15-year-old son who had a driver’s license.  He borrowed my car often.  It could have just as easily been him, and given his inexperience, it probably had greater odds of being him.

And this is the unavoidable flaw in these systems – we don’t give tickets to vehicles, we give tickets to drivers.  So unless you can tell exactly who the driver is, don’t bother sending a ticket.

End of rant.

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