Red Light Camera Petition

It's not up on the Town website yet, but here's the press coverage: Chapel Hill Herald, News & Observer, and Daily Tarheel.

And here's the text of my petition on red-light cameras that is on the Town Council agenda for Monday:

To: Town Council Members
From: Council Member Kleinschmidt
Re: Petition to terminate the Town of Chapel Hill contract with ACS, Inc.
Date: January 12, 2004

Since the Town’s earliest discussion regarding the implementation of red-light cameras, the program has been beset by criticism. The program abandons traditional methods of law enforcement by converting a once criminal sanction to a civil action. Most disturbingly, the program has transferred police power to a private corporate entity. Citizens no longer have the same rights of confrontation to challenge witnesses against them, and have lost the discretionary use of power once relied on by citizens to avoid mechanical, thoughtless law enforcement. The installation of the SafeLight Program introduced a corporate third-party between resident and government and fundamentally changed the relationship between the municipality and its citizens.

Additionally, many citizens offered evidence during public hearings that the claim of safe red-light camera intersections is largely a myth. Evidence was introduced that rear-end collisions increase at red-light camera intersections. Questions were also raised regarding the sincerity of a business plan that profits from red-light running, yet claims to want to decrease or eliminate red-light running. These questions were buttressed by evidence that ACS and other red-light camera operators have been sued in other jurisdictions for calibrating the timing of photographs to maximize the number of citations.

Also, many citizens were concerned that other methods of adjusting the timing of red and yellow lights would have been more effective at controlling red-light violations, yet were not attempted. Evidence was introduced that adjusting the timing of lights at intersections decreased violations without the costs of camera installation or the costs associated with a changed Town-Citizen relationship.

These arguments along with some dissatisfaction that the 96% of the money collected from red-light violators was being sent to the corporation now enforcing red-light running are now joined by evidence that the program fails to serve as a deterrent to red-light running. Evidence indicates that only 33% of the photographs taken by the cameras result in citations. Consequently, 2 out of 3 drivers whose photographs are taken fail to receive a citation in the mail.

The failure of the program, along with the insult to many traditional Chapel Hill values, requires us to end the program now.

I petition the Town Council to terminate its agreement with ACS Inc., the operators of the SafeLight Program in Chapel Hill, by exercising its powers under Article 7 Section 1 of the Town’s contract with ACS.




In response to "SUVs kill people too"

NO THEY DO NOT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! The drivers of some SUV's do kill people, just like the drivers of some cars do.

SUV's are however more fatel in crashes, and the government has regulated many items that promote safety, such as bumper position and type, rolloever controls, and mroe. I have no problem with that.

SUV's Don't Kill People, People Kill People and some are driving SUV's.

It seems like the town has chosen a questionable technological solution for a problem that is important to all of us. I would prefer to argue with the council's decision making process than label this as a civil rights/liberties issue. Will's arguments for safer engineering of intersections and better oversight of the contractors have my support. But I just don't see this as a civil rights/liberties issue.

OK. I'll try to keep it short Todd.

The blink-of-an-eye refers to the time difference between getting a ticket and not. In other words, these systems don't measure clear and egregious violations.

This vendor has installed and monitored these type systems for 15 years, you think their trouble here is an aberration?

However they're paid, there's no economic incentive for the company to reduce the number of tickets issued.

The studies you quote acknowledge that the continuing effectiveness of a punitive approach is unknown. Other studies show that punishment only reduces a narrow class of RLRs, and those type of RLRs rebound and increase as time goes on.

Finally, RLR was not a huge problem in our community.

Oh, BTW, I was "t-boned" by a RLR. He hit the truck I was in so hard the passenger door ended up in the drivers seat. I want safer intersections, just not at the cost of my civil rights. Why don't we take the path that is most conservative, preserve our rights and institute changes that will reduce all classes of intersection accidents, including what is the worst type accident in Chapel Hill, rear-ending?

Todd, SUVs kill people too ( ) can we legislate them away? Perhaps we can put little cameras on the bumper and in the front seat to make sure the drivers aren't talking on the phone, trying to eat, taking care of their children, or simply not paying enough attention when driving. Then we can charge them for every near miss instead of just when they injure other people.

There are so many other things that endanger us on a daily basis. I never heard an outcry (or even a peep) about the threat of red light running until this third party reared it's head. I'd rather leave the law enforcement to the folks paid by my taxes to do it.


I believe there is some way to take care of most of your concerns about RLC's, and still have them in CH.

In summary, we agree on this:

-Companies who operate the cameras, should not be paid per ticket issued. It gives them a clear incentive. The AAA California solution that I believe remedies this concern is to not pay vendors per ticket. Flat rate pricing for use of the systems works.

-The cameras should technically work well. In our local case, it appears they may not be working well. [We agree til this point] This needs to be fixed by the current vendor, or the vendor needs to be replaced. It would also be a good idea to listen to the current vendor about any possible alterations the Town could make to allow the cameras to work better. Eg. better lighting at night.

-If someone runs a red light and kills a friend or family member, do you really care if the person who ran the light did so because: Blink of the eye, using a cell phone and not paying attention, drunk, in a rush, etc.? Not really. All you care is that your loved one is dead, and some idiot killed them.

I have read lots of data from the links in my above post. While the data on RLC's is not all consistent, ALL data coming from what I consider to be reliable sources show that RLC's save lives. Data about the reductions in red light running range from 7, to 45%. Even using the lowest numbers, I think all this hassle is worth saving those 30+ lives each year. If it's really closer to the middle, we are talking substantial savings of lives, property, and insurance rates we all pay to cover idiots who run red lights and hit cars and people.

Todd, as far as the National Motorist Association, the study wasn't theirs, they just provide a nice set of links.

As far as a problem, yes, I'm telling you there's little problem.

350 citations, as I keep saying, doesn't mean that 350 RLR incidents. The NC HP says that a violation should be clear and substantial. As long as the system operates with a trigger of .3 seconds, less than ITRE's own recommendation, it's questionable how many 'real' violations occured. Because there has been no study correlating these violations to direct observation, I believe you would find most of these citations suspect.

On the timing issue, I found this neat quote from AAA's response against the RLC program:

“But the truth appears to be that we are not interested in just nabbing the egregious violators — it’s the blink-of-an-eye-violator, it’s the unintentional that bring in the big bucks,” Anderson said.

As I keep saying, as currently calibrated, the system issues citations as a matter of inches not feet, so to say. It's as if you ticketed individuals for exceeding the speed limit by a 1/10 of MPH.

Let's take the most conservative approach here and leave the policing to the police. They're trained, they're professional, they don't have a profit incentive either way and, I think most importantly, they are duty bound to serve and protect our community under the laws of the land, which includes the Constitution.

Come on Will, this Aussi research uses data from the 1970s and 80s. Can't you find any American research done in the past decade to back your point?

Has anyone ever heard of

I think we have all heard of AAA, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, The United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration, and The UNC Highway Safety Research Center. These trusted organizations are all PRO RLC's.

350 people ran one light in one month, and you are telling me we do not have a problem?!?


Sorry, but there are several studies that show RLCs don't make intersections more safe, here's one, for instance:

Why do you think Chapel Hill has such a problem requiring RLCs? The statistics don't even come close to bearing it out. In Raleigh, just one intersection had more serious incidents in one year than all the candidate intersections we have get in 5 years!

Why do you think RLCs are the way to go? If you do some research, it quickly becomes apparant that they're terrible at reducing all classes of accidents (increasing some classes!). Why not push for a better solution, one without the problematic profit disincentive to fix the underlying problem?

The Triple A and Highway Safety Institute do NOT recommend RLCs until 1) intersections have been correctly engineered and 2) until the system has been set up to protect civil liberties, such as having all film viewed by an experienced police officer before citations are sent, having a clearly stated challenge system in place, having each RLC intersection clearly marked (as the one on 15-501 in Durham is), and having all agreements with operating contractors avoid conflicts of interest, etc.



Please stop saying that I agreed with you. I agreed you made a few good points. That does not make you entirely correct.

I agree that the current RLC contract is poor, but think that changing the contract or vendor, not getting rid of cameras that save lives is the solution.

There is not one bit of evidence red light camera's do not save lives.


Mike, didn't you take notes during the campaign ;-)!

I want to make it clear, again, that Chapel Hill, by many measures, does not have a RLR epidemic going on, in spite of the fear-mongering rhetoric you might've heard. The continued use of number of citations as an indicator of RLR is disingenuous and definitely not recommended by many of the safety organizations that endorse RLCs.

There are numerous reasons that people run red-lights, including poorly marked intersections, confusing intersections, improperly calibrated signal lights, poorly timed caution intervals, too high of an approach speed for the signal, line-of-sight blockage, etc. ( ITRE has done a neat study talking of the hesitation interval, that time where a driver has to make a decision to stop or go and suggested what intervals are physiologically necessary for a proper decision outcome, I suggest you read it).

Anyway, here's just a few possible improvements we could make at problem intersections: lengthening caution intervals, warning signs, warning signals, repainting and remarking the intersection, verifying line-of-sight, enlarging traffic light lenses by 50 percent, re-striping left turn lanes with pavement markings, adding an all-red clearance interval, "rat traps", etc. There are many more traditional remedies that can be used to reduce all type of "intersection-related" accidents, not just "t-bone (angle)" types that the RLCs are narrowly focused on. The methodology for measuring improvements using these techniques is well-understood and published, unlike the methodology (I assume they have) the town and ITRE are using, which they've failed to disclose.

And, finally, of course, these traditional remedies have the additional bonus of avoiding all the due process problems.

I think the 15-501 intersections are great examples of intersections amenable to these type traditional fixes. Let's hope, after all the delay caused by focusing on a snake-oil solution, the town will use the observational data (if they've collected it) of ITRE, identify which of the 97 Chapel Hill intersections pose real problems and use these low-cost, traditional fixes to improve OVERALL safety at the intersection.

If we keep the RLCs the only improvement we'll see is in the bottom line of ACS, the citizens of Chapel Hill will lose again.


I thought you agreed with the points I raised in an earlier thread about the problems with RLCs. I guess your ennui on the subject has worn off or did you get a new sponsor?

I find it strange that someone that claims to be a conservative takes such a libertine view of for-profit, pseudo-law enforcement and the way it infringes our hard won liberties.

That aside, the RLCs are targeted at t-bone type accidents. Their use has been implicated in the rise of rear-end accidents at covered intersections. The town was presented with numerous alternatives to RLCs that would've improved the overall safety of problem intersections without trampling the constitution.

What happened? Instead of rising to the challenge and using these low cost alternatives, the advocates for this system blindly pushed for the 'snake oil' remedy.

It's quite possible that the recent, tragic, accident on 15-501 could've been prevented by well understood, well researched, widely implemented traditional remedies.

Why not push for these tried and true fixes?


What were the alternatives to RLCs? I'm interested in learning about them.

A group called Transportation Alternatives, Advocates for Cycling, Walking, and and envirenmentally sensitive transporation is a major ADVOCATE of red light cameras:

California AAA is in favor of red light cameras, because they save lives:,8055,1008020000%257C4098,00.html

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is in favor of red light cameras, because they save lives:

According to 2002 fatality figures by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42,815 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 3 million people were injured. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 43% of motor vehicle crashes occur at intersections or are "intersection-related."

The Canada Safety Council sites tons of research showing red light cameras save lives!

The United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration has guidelines for red light cameras, and the data shows it can be done well, and save lives

The UNC Highway Safety Research Center sites the benefits of red light cameras, and notes the ACLU does NOT oppose them if used correctly!

I could go on, but you get the idea!

Red light cameras save lives!

We need to reform our current agreement, and keep them in Chapel Hill! Check AAA and the State of CA's efforts to see how to do it right.

Ruby --

I am not an advocate for keeping the cameras let me make that clear.

All I am saying is that people who feel it is a civil rights type issue or those who think that all "criminals" should be punished might be able to objectively look at the puny amount of revenue it brings, the low citation rate and as Mark Chilton may be saying - maybe more people have died at these intersections now than before. (???)

Or have there been fewer accidents at these intersections???

If they aren't working (increasing safety) maybe everyone could agree that is cause enough for them to go???

Caught Red Handed,

You miss the point.

It is a civil matter because it has to be. Recall that Chapel Hill received authority to install these cameras by conceding that violations would not longer be infractions, but civil actions.

Once upon a time, if you ran a red-light and were pulled over by a police officer you got a court date, went to court...the DA presented evidence against you, you pled responsible or not responsible, you had an opportunity to ask the officer questions in open court, you could introduce evidence of your own and you could appeal an adverse decision. All this took place in a court room, a forum independent of the municipality. It's what courts are here to do.

These protections continue to exist if a police officer pulls you over. Running a red-light at a camera monitored intersection is only "like getting parking tickets" because the General Assembly realized that you can't remove the protections afforded by a court proceeding and continue to define a violation as an infraction. The General Assembly had to make this change because convicting someone of a violation in such a mechanical way absent the discretion we value so highly in law enforcement, offends the Constitution as I've stated above.

Your criticism is only valid if you resolve that changing this from an infraction to a civil action is okay. I have problems with that. I gather you don't.

Interestingly, although proponents stress how eager they are catch red-light runners, the harshest sanctions for doing so have been eliminated for violations that occur at these intersections -- no license points, no insurance points, no inconvenience of having to appear in court or hire a lawyer. These are the costs for running red-lights when a police officer pulls you over. These costs to violators are gone along with the rights of people accused of being violators.

Again, the deterrent value is undermined.

The town owning the mechanism doesn't solve the problem because it removes the discretionary aspect of police enforcement.

Caught Red Handed,

I think Mark K.'s point is that you cannot prevail in these appeals and that is part of what is so troubling about them. As for due process etc, you are right it is a civil matter, but how is that fair? And why should red light running be downgraded to a civil infraction?

I am undecided as to what I think abotu the RLC's, but I think your criticism of Mark K does little to demonstrate that RLC's are worthwhile.

-Mark Chilton

ps Why post anonymously on this topic, CRH?

Jay, someone was actually killed at Europa Drive and 15-501. I don't know whether there was a a red light camera ticket issue, but the a driver stopped and a truck travelling along 15-501 could not stop in time. it slammed into two vehicles stopped at the light. I don't know all of the facts involved in the case.

Isn't it possible that RLC's cause accidents? The scenario goes like this: Driver approaches an intersection known to have an RLC. Light turns yellow and driver jams on brakes to avoid RLC ticket. Trucker behind Driver was not expecting such a sudden stop and is unable to stop the heavy truck in time to avoid an accident. The RLC has just caused (rather than prevented) an accident.

I don't know at all that the above scenario is what happened in the recent fatality at 15-501 and Europa Drive. But such a scenario is certainly a realistic possibility.

It is worth realizing that unpredictable behavior behind the wheel is always going to create hazards. An irrational fear of RLC tickets could well be the cause of some very unpredictable behavior.

-Mark Chilton

Mark C.

The same behavior could be observed when a driver encounters a police vehicle with a speed trap. Shall we ban this enforcement method?

At least the RLC's are predicable.

Mark K. (and Cam)

"due process, confrontation, appeals, judgments by your peers and the other civil liberties guaranteed by the 4th, 5th, and 6th, amendments to the United States Constitution"

You're kidding right? These tickets are no longer criminal matters.

They are like getting parking tickets. I'm sure, given your practice, you understand the difference. If you think there are Constitutional issues, perhaps you should offer your services pro bono to ticket recipients to contest them on these grounds. (Maybe you can prevail where others have not.)

If you are so concerned about these 'right's, then why don't you advocate that Chapel Hill lease the equipment and set up a system through our police department to issue infractions. We could allow appeals, etc., through some forum to guarantee fair treatment. And (Cam) we could keep all the proceeds in the local coffers. If this is lucrative for a private concern, it should be very profitable for us.

Part of the problem in this discussion is revealed in the NandO article. The Pro-camera argument borrows too heavily on the 'we must catch the violators' side of law enforcement. While the Anti-cameras argument plays to this with a civil liberties counter.

The real problem, as many posting here have mentioned, is that the discussion should be about effective, honest efforts to provide for better public safety.

One person told me, so this is completely hearsay, that they spoke to the camera installer who said, "Yeah, we can catch speeders too. They're even more deadly. But everybody speeds so no one likes that. But everybody is angry with the idiots who run red lights."

That anger is strong on the pro-camera letters. But anger will not give us safety.

How many tickets per month have actually been citation worthy since this started????

How much money per month has it generated (on average)???

How many fewer accidents at THESE interesections were there for the same months the year before they went up???

How many lives were saved or lost at THESE intersections from the same months the year before???

these are all we need.

you don't even need to debunk any civil liberty issues if these aren't improved.

Jay, if you read some previous discussions about the cameras from the Civil Liberties archive (ie: & ) and the news stories they reference, you'll see that very few tickets have been written, and the Town has generated little or no money from this program.

I still think this is secondary to the issues raised in Mark Kleinschmidt's petition. Even if the cameras "worked," I'd rather have the cops protecting my safety than some corporation. Red light running is not at the top of my list of concerns about our community. I'd much rather see police protecting me and my neighbors from more serious threats.

In order to respond to some emails I've been receiving, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not concerned about privacy in regards to RLCs. Civil liberties and the Bill of Rights protect a lot more than that. Please re-read the petition and my subsequent posts.

I don't bring up privacy rights, but nor do I claim people should run more lights, or run even them with impunity.

I think there are much bigger traffic and accident problems that will be happening at the intersection of Airport and Estes.

Yes these cameras should go...

But if you think there is a problem at Estes and Airport now... wait a few phases if you catch my drift.

Apparently, "lobbiest" are giving some council members more than fedex packages on their doorstep to argue their point.

Those of us around in 20 years will beg for what exists now.

It seems to me that there at least two threads of this debate. First, there's the issue of civil liberties (Mark Kleinschmidt). Then there's the issue of implementation of the local program (Will R's letter to the council).

I do not believe that the town is currently prepared to manage such a system on their own and clearly, other communities have had significant problems in dealing with the implementation of outside contractors such as ACS. At this point, I have come to the conclusion, like others of you have already done, that if the CH/NC traffic engineers believe we have a significant safety issue with red light running, then they need to do more to ensure that our intersections are soundly engineered.

Once that has been done, if the safety issue persists, then the town needs to be more aggressive in working with ACS to ensure and communicate how the system is monitored locally to provide "maximum traffic safety benefit while preserving due process and legitimate privacy rights of the motoring public...",8055,1008020000%257C3725,00.html Including making sure that a local police officer views all film before citations are issued. The system, if it must be supported, should at minimum be treated as a joint effort of the town police and the contractor rather than something the town forfeits control over.

Just a quick about citations versus actual red-light running.

If you think RLRs have been caught red-handed, think again!

These RLCs are calibrated to trigger at .3 seconds. This is less than the recommendation of the group studying our intersections (ITRE), less than the NHSTA recommends and contravenes our NC HP recommendations that violations are clear and substantial.

Essentially, it's a matter of inches, not feet, so to say. Imagine getting ticketed for going 1/10 of a mile over the speed limit. The town has yet to justify these timings.

NHSTA and many other safety organizations that are biased towards the RLC systems all state that the number of citations should NEVER be used to measure the effectiveness of the system, yet ACS, their mouthpiece and the engineer running the program continue to use number of citations as a false indicator of effectiveness. This is extremely disingenous.

Finally, I raised a number of substantive questions ( ) which have yet to be answered.

Why does ACS continue to stall?

Easy, they know the answers will only underscore that their program is all about the $$$$ and doesn't fix problem intersections.

I've got to admit that I've never quite "gotten it" with respect to "privacy rights" while driving. If I run a red light and a policeman sees me, I have no privacy rights at all about that act. So why should my privacy rights depend on whether a policeman happens to be there or not? I'm on a public road, not in my house or on a telephone (at least not usually ;-) or writing a letter, where I do expect privacy.

If driving is so private, shouldn't we be opposing the use of visible license plates and show our permits only when a policeman stops us? [Yes, I've read my S.I. Hayakawa and know that this is not a strong argument.]

That said, I fully support the termination of the red light camera system AS IT EXISTS. This is because it gives legal authority to private enterprise, where it does not belong.

I also want to try the alternative solutions that Paul and others have pointed out. Certainly I find myself running red lights simply because my macho yuppy pickup just won't stop fast enough: give me another second or two, please, and I'll stop. Just remember that those extra seconds might also encourage people to run more lights (it's an empirical question).

If cameras are the only way to stop this terrible behavior, then I will favor bringing cameras back, only this time with public legal enforcement.

My $0.02.

-- ge

I wasn't keen on having those boxes watching me as I drive, so my first instinct is to applaud your efforts to remove them. However, truth be told, I think my irritation came less from the philosophical objection I adopted than not wanting to get ticketed. I can't remember ever running a red light, but, like many I guess, I do try to "make the yellow", which, upon reflection, is probably not the best driving attitude to have.

That habit hasn't changed much, except at the RLC intersections, where I definitely stop well before I would have without them. I don't want to risk just missing the yellow to red change and triggering a ticket. I'll bet I'm not the only one who does this. It's a very rational cost-benefit decision. So, the argument that RLC's don't provide deterence doesn't hold much water with me.

I'd like to know if we think we have a significant problem at certain intersections. What does the data show? Do we have our own surveys? Are we alarmed at the number of violations the RLC's have observed so far (even if the offenders couldn't be identified)? The first determination should be whether any measures are needed. Anecdotally, there seems to be a lot of evidence there is a problem. Can we get better data?

As for alternative measures, there are many other high traffic intersections in this town.Have we tried them? Can the police provide a regular enough presence to act as a deterent? Have the timings of their red and yellow lights been adjusted to test the effectiveness of that methodology? Nothing has held us back from doing these concurrently with the RLC test. Why don't you just instruct staff to do so?

As for the RLC safety concern, has there been an increase in our community of rear end collisions? Someone ought to be able to tell us that.

Let's stop conjecturing on all this and get some facts.

I've been hit by a red light runner, fortunately for me and my kids in the vehicle, he only clipped the back quarterpanel of our van. (Ironically, it was a county EPS car - not on an emergency call - which struck us.) Even at that, this was a very violent collision.

One Chapel Hill value I cherish is the relative safety of our community, in our homes, schools and on the roads. If you get rid of these RLC's, then please simultaneously enact an alternative enforcement or control mechanism which you know will work as well or better. Or, if you don't have an alternative you are confident in yet, then table the cancellation of the RLC's until you can test other methods at other intersections in town.

Why does opposition to red light cameras make us irresponsible protectors of "scofflaws"? If we don't like these cameras then we are coddling criminals or worse, unconcerned about the pain that traffic accidents cause.

These cameras were adopted with no discussion of alternatives. They are a bad solution to a debatable problem.If redlight running is getting worse let's look for solutions that don't involve privatizing law enforcement and sending all our money out of town.ACS is the traffic control equivalent of Wal-Mart.

Chapel Hill values have always involved intelligent and civil discourse. Accusing us of being red light runners, greedy self interested lawyers or unfeeling civil libertarians is silly and less than thoughtful. Maybe an idefensible position leads naturally to name calling?


The suggestion in David's letter to the N&O can be taken up by anyone. Contact information for all Council Members is on the Town website. All the members welcome emails, telephone calls, letters etc. Indeed we receive many each week.


Thank you for providing the link to the letter Dimion. David is a well spoken proponent of the red-light program, but I do think his conclusions are wrong.

It's interesting to me that proponents of these cameras haven't seemed to listen to the points being made by Paul, Will, Michelle and the many others I've heard from who have proposed alternatives to red-light running. Incidently, the suggestions that have been made have been made in very public forums -- here on OP, letters to newspapers, and in public hearings before the Council. The record of debate on this subject is replete with atlernatives and studies that show other methods can be more effective at making intersections safe.

Given the fact that I have continually pressed for use of other methods of intersection improvement and have supported countless measures to improve the safety of Chapel HIll citizens during my two years on Council, the comment that property values are more important to me than public safety is ludicrous.

I believe I articulate Chapel Hill values very well in my petitions . . . due process, confrontation, appeals, judgments by your peers and the other civil liberties guaranteed by the 4th, 5th, and 6th, amendments to the United States Constitution are, I contend, strongly held Chapel Hill values. Once upon a time in Chapel Hill, individuals accused of being responsible for a red-light infractions were allowed these protections. But our town government changed that when it went to the NC legislature and received special legislation to allow us to strip this process from people who are accused of running red-lights. This action does not accord with any traditional Chapel Hill value of which I am aware.

Question: I've always understood that running a red light is a "driver" violation. But the red light system can only ticket a license plate. Isn't that a contradiction?

Mark--if you'll tell me how to sign your petition, I will do so. It's a joke for a community like Chapel Hill to participate in such a system. If they have a safety problem, they should look for a way to improve safety. Punishment has never been a viable solution for changing behavior over the long run.

My points above are that you can have solutions that are proved to be effective, are non-punitive, are non-invasive, are more cost effecient, and are under local, or at least state, control.

The cameras are bad technology which is expensive, of debatable effectiveness, of debatable effeciency, is punitive rather than preventative, and is under the control of a group whose only incentive is to find or create violators.

yes, they are ugly too.

To make matters worse, the history of ACS in Philadelphia and San Diego should give any local government pause. Today, packages from the ACS founded astroturf organization, National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running through their PR firm, Blakey, have been arrived at Council members homes via FedEx. I encourage Council members to consider the source of this information and treat it accordingly.

I think I am one of the few that doesn't feel passionate about this.

If there is not a lot of revenue generated for the Town (4% seems low)...

If there is not STRONG evidence they have reduced accidents AT THE INSTALLED SITE (not in general).....

and they are unattractive to boot, then they should go.

personally I don't feel infringed upon but the arguments (and hopefully statistics) against it seem to outway the benefits.

The cheapest, most effective, and least punitive solution is to retime the lights. This is proven to be effective.

The next cheapest, very effective and not at all punitive solution is to increase the lens size on the red. This too has proven to be effective.

As a technologist, I see the current ACS solution as techno for techno's sake which is never a good thing. And BTW not the better red light camera solution out there either (as the past months have shown).

If you focus on changing the behavior and making safer intersections instead of "catching the bad guys" and being Flash Gordon, you can have some very good solutions that will save lives and are not intrusive.

Every car that enters central london is photgraphed by a camera system that recognises the license plate and sends the data to a central facility for recording.

This is done for "Red" Ken Livingstone's congestion charging scheme, though I would be very disappointed if MI5 isn't using this for counter-terrorism.

It has come to my attention that ACS is rev'ing up to battle the opposition to RLCs. They're capable on some rather twisted means ( ) to bash the opposition. If you want to see the RLCs go, make your voice heard.

ps. Follow the URL to see how LA County has to cough up another $400K to settle one of the many class actions going on in CA, this one in San Diego (one of the shining examples ACS loves to use!!!).

FYI --

Council received a couple of emails arguing for the continued use of RLCs.

One claims I want them gone because, well, I'm a lawyer and I don't want to lose the fees I collect representing people who run red lights. If only receiving tickets for running redlights were the biggest problem my clients have!

Another thinks I actually want to encourage people to run red-lights. How absurd! The same one challenges us to find another way to decrease red-light running if we're so intent on getting red of RLC. Such short memories. At every public hearing during consideration of this policy and in multiple petitions brought by a number of citizens since the implementation of this policy, many other approaches to decreasing red light running were proposed. My petition references one. I'm sure Will Raymond and Michelle Barbee can remind us of others.

Others don't mind the using machines to do what police can't. Kinda like Minority Report, I guess.


Is there anything you'd suggest citizens do to expedite the removal of the RLCs? I was planning to attend the council meeting on Monday, would it help if I and other citizens come forward and ask for a quick end rather than having it referred out to staff, yet again?

Singapore uses various automated approaches such as vehicles that "rat" on their drivers and intersection cameras for enforcement of moving violations. Because they have probably developed this approach with ruthless efficiency, does anyone know of the ramifications of this approach to law enforcement for Singapore's citizens with respect to privacy, safety, ability to appeal convictions, etc.?

I have already heard what happens to kids who vandalize cars and steal road signs in Singapore.

While I'm snowed in, let me also remind you that much on Red Light Cameras was covered in this thread on

Car Black Boxes (testifying against yourself)

All GM, Ford & Chrysler cars have had Car Black Boxes since 1999, unbeknownst to the owners/drivers. The black boxes record data from the car computer: speed, braking, etc., under the guise of gathering data to prevent future car accidents.

Pretty soon, you will be forced to testify against yourself (no more 5th Amendment in the Bill of Rights), not only about that accident, but for every time you exceeded the speed limit, or did not come to a complete stop at a red light or stop sign.

Also promised: the recording of what was said in the car before the crash.

Yeah, right. How long before audio recordings will be beamed to The Shadow Government, unbeknownst to the cab occupants, to scrutinize _everything_ that is said.

Remember when President Nixon wanted to put listening devices in everyone’s TV’s? Do you really think this idea withered on the vine? The new CIA/FBI center has some pretty sophisticated listening devices.

Mark--Behind you 100%! What is the most effective way to support your petition?


I want to thank Mark for bothering to check on the astroturf "institute" called the "National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running"

This institute is run by a PR firm on behalf of red light camera companies with our local friends ACS State and Local Solutions as their founding sponsor along with Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc. and Nestor Traffic Systems. Their spokesperson and PR firm owner, Leslie Blakey, shows up often as a "witness" to speak for the Campaign, but rarely discloses her sponsors or the extent of their contributions (see the scandal on bid-rigging in Philadephia recently). Additionally, recent "data" on red light cameras presented by Blakey and the Campaign in their literature originated with ACS itself. This and more has been covered by most of the Philadelphia papers will give you a quick education.

For those who feel this is a liberal vs conservative battle, I point you to this Washington Times editorial

Also for you, fellow geeks, here's the WHOIS record for the Campaign's website


Blakey, Leslie T (NKPALDHLED)

Blakey & Associates

1501 M Street, NW

Suite 700

Washington, DC 20005



Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:

Blakey, Leslie T (36237925P)

Blakey & Associates

1501 M Street, NW

Suite 700

Washington, DC 20005



Record expires on 24-Jul-2004.



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.