Thursday, June 9, 2011

Red Light Cameras: Law Enforcement Tool or Unconstitutional Intrusion?

I may be taking a risk by venturing into such a topic with my blog; but I figure I tackled the subject of intellectual property rights so this should be right up my alley.

I catch a lot of flack for my views. I am often the oddball in my generation, a social throwback to a time when there was more respect for authority and a desire to do right. Or, perhaps this time never even existed and I am just that much stranger.

For me, the debate over red-light cameras is a simple one: You do the crime, you pay the fine.

I will also be honest in saying that when I hear someone start talking about how these cameras are unconstitutional I have a hard time not hearing, "I just want to keep getting away with breaking the rules and will use any lame argument to do so."

The question I usually have for those against red-light cameras is how would the situation be different if a police officer was posted at the intersection rather than a camera.

If an officer is watching an intersection and someone runs a red light they are going to get a ticket for running the red light. This person will not get a ticket because the cop is being a jerk or because the city wants the money; they will be getting a ticket because they broke the law by running the red light.

In the same way; when a person runs the red light that is being watched by the eye of the camera they will get a ticket. This person will not get a ticket because the owner of the camera company is buddies with someone in the government or because the city is trying to collect more money; they will get the ticket because they ran the red light.

And if a we put a camera at the intersection we can free up that police officer to do something else with his time than sit at an intersection because we all can't act like adults and obey the rules.

I have even heard the argument that red light cameras may actually increase accidents because some people will stop when they could have easily and legally cleared the intersection and get rear-ended.

My question is since when do we decide to stop enforcing rules because people break them?

If you can't stop in time to avoid hitting the car in front of you it is because you were driving too fast, not allowing proper space between the vehicles, not paying attention, or a combination of the three.

As much as I hate to say it, perhaps a ticket or even a fender bender is exactly what someone needs to start taking responsibility for their actions when operating a motor vehicle.

Now, I am not saying that some cops aren't jerks, or that cites don't enjoy the extra revenue, or that there are never any sort of shady deals between business owners and government officials. What I am saying is that if people didn't break the law the rest of the arguments would be a moot point.

After all, what would be the point of installing red light cameras if no one ran the red light?

For me this is an issue of accountability and personal responsibility.

Do a quick Google search for "speeding ticket" and you will likely find that a majority of the search results are way to get out of paying for the ticket. There is a whole industry built around helping people avoid the consequences of their actions.

In my opinion, drivers are getting worse and worse all the time.

I am sure I could write a whole blog post and then some on some of the possible reasons drivers are more reckless just plain worse than drivers 15 years ago, but the fact remains that it is getting down right dangerous out there.

My verdict on the cameras? I only wish they could put them up at more intersections... and maybe even use them to catch speeders too.

And for those who don't like the cameras? You don't have to use the public roads. Walk, take a bus, stay at home, whatever. If you don't want to follow the rules we will all be safer with you off the road.

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