Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bad Mail

So I belatedly got what I believe will be my last 2014 birthday card in the mail, which I finally opened this morning, and I also got some bad mail.

Plano Police Department.

That can't be good.  Yep, a red light camera violation.  On my way to Chinese class a couple weeks ago. 

They put up red light cameras at a bunch of intersections in the area probably more than 5 years ago.  I got a ticket shortly thereafter for making a right on red without coming to a full stop first.  It struck me as BS because it was very clear as I approached the intersection that no car was in the lane where it could have impaired my turn, but yeah, it was a right on red and I didn't stop fully before turning, so I paid it.

My one ticket (which was at Lovers and 75) taught me well.  There is a camera I pass where I make a right turn every single time I go run with my friends (Mockingbird and 75), and I always make a full stop there.  I feel like I see it flash on someone who didn't stop fairly frequently, but yep, never on me.

But last I heard, Dallas was considering not installing any further cameras.  Why?  Because it wasn't profitable.

That bothered me, since the original justification for the cameras was to improve safety -- to stop red light runners, which was a leading cause of T-bone accidents.  When the cameras went in, I heard the data showed it right away -- drastic decrease in T-bone accidents at intersections with cameras, and moderate increase in rear-end accidents at those same intersections.  Rear-end accidents result in far less bodily injury than t-bone accidents. 

But when people started stopping because of the cameras (and occasionally getting rear-ended), the cameras stopped being profitable because there were so few violators. 

So Dallas instead of seeing the cameras as something to promote safety and reduce injuries to those in the city, decided that there wouldn't be any new cameras unless they became profitable.  Whatever.  I get that the city doesn't have a big budget surplus to spend on cameras.  Fine.  But they should have been up front that they were going to install cameras to promote safety as long as it paid for itself, but when it stopped paying for itself, that safety feature would go by the wayside, since sticking to budget was a higher priority than reducing fatalities/injuries. 

But apparently Plano (a suburb north of Dallas) definitely still uses them, and apparently at least one is on my way to Chinese lessons.  Crap.  There's $75 I'll never see again...  But it's almost a net wash, since I got a $50 gift card in the birthday card, right? 


  1. That has always been one of my pet-peeves ... that rather than being to 'protect and serve', it feels too often like police forces become about 'revenue enhancement'. Again, where there is safety involved, great - but when you can't get a 'slow down' in a school zone or a cop posted, yet they have a wonderful speed trap where they drop the posted speed by 15MPH for no apparent reason - and it is always staffed.

    When I was on a trip to San Diego last year for work, the driver was telling us that some of the lights reportedly snap every plate even if it doesn't violate, and they got caught sending tickets to out of state plates because they wouldn't be likely to fight it.

    1. I guess it's the solution to small-town budget problems? Instead of taxing people, it's almost like a sin tax on people who engage in minor traffic violations.

      In this case, I definitely did it. There was video on the website, and two still photos -- one of my car almost on the line at the start of the intersection when it turns red, and one of my car in the intersection on red. Bah humbug.

  2. These things were never about safety - such a bad use of funds.