Don is a Writer and a Storyteller. He has published over 9 books on varied subjects along with many articles and commentary on his blogs.
Red Light Camera Ticket
I fell for the Trap, a Red Light Camera
OK! You Got Me!
Haul me away to the Dungeons of Hell!
Chain me to the cold, dank stone walls and let the rats eat my toes from my feet as I sleep in abject misery over my miscreant ways!
I fell for the latest trending trick that is used more and more often by local governments to make money off of an unknowing populace.
Sure, I broke a traffic Law and shame on Me!
No, I didn't rob a bank, even though they have cameras too.
I didn't shoot anyone in a store or gas stations. And yes,they also have cameras, just in case I did some such dastardly deed!
I crossed the white line, shame on me!
Yep! That;s what I actually did that was illegal; I crossed the white line at a stop light.
I did it, I admit it and I am not ashamed!
I did not run through a Red Light, endangering other vehicles or people.
Nope! I simply crossed the white line at a stop light.
You see, it was at a RED LIGHT MONEY TRAP!
A trap designed to make money, not just improve driver safety.
The Intersection is a Money Maker.
Let me explain.
I live in Florida, and there is a popular Outlet Mall nearby, in Ellington, right on the side of Interstate-75.
When you exit I-75, you immediately get to the entrance to the Mall off of Highway-301. This is a dual highway with a wide grass median.
Also, Highway-301 is 3-lanes each way at this intersection and the other road, going into the Mall entrance is dual-lane.
Being a sporadically busy section of road, when you get to the intersection, heading west, there are 2 left turn lanes into the Mall entrance road.
As with so many intersections, you get a green arrow to turn left, but it is legal to turn left on the solid green, if oncoming traffic is safely open.
This is, in fact, a pretty standard intersection layout that is repeated across America, I would say.
What actually happened.
Well, as I said, I broke the law.
While I was in the left turn lane, the left-turn green arrow went out and the solid green lights came on.
I was about three cars away from the front of the left-turn lane and I watched as each car pulled forward (across the white line) and when there was an opening in the oncoming traffic, they would drive across the lanes and enter the Mall entrance road.
So, as I came to the front of the line, I also pulled forward (across the white line) to turn left.
And what happened?
Before I could turn across the road, the light quickly turned Yellow and then Red.
Checking my mirror, where I had been sitting, behind the white line, was now filled with another car, so I couldn't back up, even on the yellow.
Well, this left me sitting in the crossing, so I waited until the oncoming traffic had stopped and I crossed over to the Mall. No danger to anyone!
The Ticket arrived over a month later.
So, I went to the Mall and life went on. That is, until about a month and a half later when I received a letter from the County of Manatee.
I opened it and inside was a bill for $158.00. The documents went on to explain my rights, which were essentially non-existent, and how much I had to pay, and within what time-frame..
I asked around and the consensus was, I had to pay the bill.
The ticket, similar to the one above, showed two nice pictures of my vehicle. One a closeup of the rear license plate, and one was of my vehicle sitting in the crossing.
There was no doubt about it., it was my car, and they say, in that instant, my car was breaking the law.
But, had I broken thre law? Or was I a victim of the latest money-making scheme for city governments across the country.
You see, I have been driving for a number of decades, and in a majority of the states, being a traveling RV camper, now that I think about it.
Is it illegal to run a Red Light? Of course, it is.
But, is it illegal to get trapped by a Red Light in the crossing at an intersection?
Well, I was told that, technically, I was not supposed to cross that wide white line in the crossing lane, so I had broken the law.
I responded that I and most drivers did what I had done and pulled across the median, even when the light went from a green arrow to a solid green.
The Cop I talked to agreed that it was legal to do so, but that it was, technically, not legal to sit in the crossing, rather I should have stayed behind the white line and then turned only when the oncoming traffic was open.
I just walked away, in frustration, laughing to myself and thinking;
Yeah, OK, and technically you are supposed to drive the speed limit just like I do, but most Cops ignore such mundane traffic laws, because they know that no one is going to do anything about their little infractions.
I paid the Fine to support my local government
According to an actual court case in Gardenia, California, the Police Chief stated that there was no discernible decrease in collisions after the towns Red Light Cameras were installed. as quoted in the web site; HighwayRobbery.
Having heard this same statistic quoted by other law enforcement groups on TV,I was not surprised.
Although upset, I went ahead and I paid the fine as I suspect many of us that are fined will do.
It stated right on the ticket that it was a fine that did not go against your driving record, if you paid it.
On the other hand, if you contested it and lost, it was then a real reprorable traffic offense.
I accepted this as I realized; if I had the money to throw away, I could drive through these Red Lights with their money-making camera systems, at will.
In fact, the cities and towns that have them would probably give me some kind of plaque if I did this regularly.
You see, I would be supporting my local government.
Not for Safety but for Money
In reality, the more I thought about it, the more mad I got. A couple of weeks later, I went back, parked and watched the traffic for a few minutes.
There were probably a half-dozen people, heading into the Mall who did the exact same thing that I had done; just try to get into the Mall.
Not race through the light endangering others, just trying to turn left but getting caught, consistently, by a Red light while in the median.
One other thing that I noticed was that the majority of the cars were from out-of-state. Most likely they were vacationers, just wanting to shop for a real deal, as is the case almost everywhere in Florida,
I started my car and chuckled, knowing that a lot of these people were going to get a real surprise in the mail soon. A surprise just like mine.
They will receive their own bill for $158.00 from Manatee County, a Bill for deciding to vacation and shop in this beautiful Florida county.
The fastest spreading money-maker for towns and cities.
According to FOX NEWS these cameras have most of the public seeing red over the abuse of the law for money by too often setting them to have fast Yellow Lights.
In fact the local Manatee County statistics according to a report by one expose show on a local TV News, that the county has short Yellow light times that are getting shorter. In fact some counties are using shorter "Yellow light ON times" to trap more people and increase their fines.
The state has taken so much heat in fact that they are studying adding 0.4 seconds to some RLC yellow light times.
Anyway, I started to think about this new phenomenon, the Red Light Camera system of making money.
Imagine the money that these municipalities rake in with such a minimal investment.
Think of the cameras being installed across America.
Not Cameras to necessarily improve public safety, although they are using real laws that they twist for their own gain.
Hundreds of thousands of cameras, just sitting there on those cold gray poles. indiscriminately snapping away.
And if the guy (Cop?) reviewing the pictures on their computer sees a snapshot of a car that was instantaneously out of place, he clicks on the "Bill the Fool" button and life goes on.
My complaint is that if a real Cop was sitting there and saw me crossing that line and being trapped in the crossing, he would just shrug and ignore my infractions as being a chance occurrence, and not worthy of his time.
Hell, he would probably even think; That happens to me, sometimes.
Computers with cameras have no such compunction to exercise compassion.
They click the picture, and they mail the Bill, if told to.
Meanwhile, I can picture the cities across America, salivating over the chance to add more and more of these cameras. You see, this newest money-maker is so lucrative that they will not be able to stop themselves from getting their cut of what is in Americans purses.
Just imagine! Eventually, if there are enough of these cameras placed everywhere possible, we could end up just driving to our jobs and parking our cars, and going home at night.
And we could end up with a monthly bill, for ridiculous infractions, while our towns build bigger municipal buildings, towns with populations of only 20,000 or so can have SWAT Teams with gleaming Tanks and bullet proof trucks, and every Cop gets a new patrol car every year.
But, the good thing is; even though we, the citizens, may have to actually budget for our growing Red Light Camera infraction bills, it will not go against our Driving record ........ Yet!
An intersection too good not to take advantage of
By the way, I go to this Mall every month or so.
It was a couple of months later that I was leaving the Mall and I was in the right-hand turn only lane. The cars in front of me were one-by-one, pulling up and if the traffic was open, they were turning right to leave the Mall.
But, having been caught before at this intersection, I was a little more wary this time.
Now, I have been going to this Mall for several years, and this lane was always open to turns. But, today there was a new sign hanging over the lanes shiny new right-turn stop light. It stated; NO RIGHT TURN ON RED.
After I had stopped, I looked, and Yep! There was a camera sitting there waiting to take my picture again, at this same money-making intersection at yet another position. I realized that now, a driver could get a ticket going into the Mall and pick up another one leaving. The City was trying to double-dip the shoppers.
Me? I waited for the next light change, with the locals behind me blowing their horns in anger at my reticence.
I was smiling and thinking;
NOT TODAY, BIG BROTHER! NOT TODAY!
Should You Pay a Red Light Ticket?
How to Avoid Red Light Camera Tickets
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Don Bobbitt
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on June 30, 2015:
handymanbill- Sad to say, our society just sits back and allows our personal liberties and privacy to be abused more and more every year.
BTW, does a drone make a good pellet rifle target? LOL!
Bill from Greensburg Pennsylvania on June 29, 2015:
That's o.k. wait till they start putting up drones to monitor your speed and getting tickets for speeding. Think how much easy money the states can make on that.
georgescifo from India on February 09, 2014:
In my country, the red light camera serves both as a safety measure as well as a income generating stream for governing authorities. The red light cameras have significantly reduced the accident rates in our countries, especially in the highways.
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on February 09, 2014:
Suzanne Day- There is a thing to be considered here that is a "1984" kind of situation.
You see, just like with the early years of the growth of the Gestapo in ore-WWII Germany, everyone, that had any common sense anyway, thought that the crazt thing tha the local government was doing was really just a stupid thing that would just pass, over time.
So they sat back and tacitly condoned the slow elimination of ALL of the PEOPLES Rights.
Andone day, they woke up and realized that they also had no rights.
Only restrictions that kept them in line.
So, LOOK and LOOK very carefully at the so called slights to our personal freedoms. Even slights like these money-making Red Light camera systems.
Look and decide whether you think you are being fined for a slight infraction or if you are being micro-managed to a end. An end with our own Gestapo telling us what to do?
Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on February 08, 2014:
It's so ANNOYING when that happens! I used to get parking fines for parking in places where the signage was not displayed correctly and because I didn't photograph the spot that day, had to pay them. Bloody stupid they have these ridiculous conditions. Agree with you wholeheartedly, that they are only in it for the money. Voted useful.
Tolovaj on January 24, 2014:
Interesting story, it is good to feel your humor behind the sad truths of all, not only your system, which were established for safety, but technically, well, technically, why not make some profit on the side ...
I am sure this kind of mistake in our country would be at least three times more expensive...
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on January 09, 2014:
kDeus- You make a good point about these cameras being great for managing intersections where there are Safety issues.
My sarcastic article, on the other hand, was pointing out that these systems are becoming more and more popular as a way to make money rather than control a safety situation.
Good points though,
The Frog Prince from Arlington, TX on January 09, 2014:
Here in Texas the money collected is supposed to go to hospitals. It turns out that it hasn't been.
Keely Deuschle from Florida on January 09, 2014:
I can certainly understand both sides of this debate. I live in FL, too. My county has implemented a few of these and they're met with mixed opinions. On January 1st, two intersections that I traverse through multiple times daily had them implemented. These two intersections are very-high accident intersections because of people running lights. They are major intersections right off the interstate and part of the main artery from my town that feeds the interstate. When there's an accident on the interstate, the artery gets backed up, people get impatient and block intersections, run lights. They don't want to sit in lines so they weasel their way through the intersections one way or another. With that being said, people are in such a rush that every time I am near that intersection, I witness people running them - or blocking them. I have come within INCHES of being t-boned on high impact on more than one occasion because of idiots running the lights. If I've experienced this multiple times, multiply that for all the drivers that travels through the same intersections. My life is worth more than the cost of a fine that someone is charged for running a light.
I know that there are also many cases like yours where drivers DO come to a complete stop, but just over the line of the crosswalk. There is no running of the light and yes, the county or city does profit from these. But, Florida statutes do state that a driver must stop before a entering a crosswalk. So, it's just a matter of making the habit to stop before the crosswalk.
There are cases that are challenged and perhaps yours could be. I know that if I received a fine, I'd be quite irritated, but if it saves a life, I'm all for them in high-accident areas.