Strong opinions, weakly held

Red light cameras

Bruce Schneier flags a post about the ineffectiveness of red light cameras. Unfortunately, because cities find the cameras to be a useful source of revenue, I doubt we’ll be seeing them disappear anytime soon. I’ve seriously considered running for city council or county commissioner on the sole issue of getting rid of them.

Not only do I hate the general level of anxiety they cause for drivers at the intersections where they’re posted, but I also hate that they condition people to accept being constantly, passively observed for potential violations of the law.

Big companies and the government both suck, particularly when they work together. The insurance companies are evil:

The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras since insurance companies can profit from red-light cameras by way of higher premiums due to increased crashes and citations.

And so are city governments:

In fact, six U.S. cities have been found guilty of shortening the yellow light cycles below what is allowed by law on intersections equipped with cameras meant to catch red-light runners. Those local governments have completely ignored the safety benefit of increasing the yellow light time and decided to install red-light cameras, shorten the yellow light duration, and collect the profits instead.

More people will die thanks to red light cameras, but surely that’s justified by increasing government revenue without “raising taxes” and more profit for the auto insurance industry.

Here are more details on the six cities that have been caught shortening yellow lights to raise red light camera revenue.


  1. You’ve got my vote.

  2. If we lived in the same town, I’d vote for you 🙂

  3. I would certainly vote for you. Unfortunately where I live (Houston, TX) many people are in the “if it is against the law you deserve what you get if you break it” camp.

    The RLCs have been sold as the “solution” to the “rampant” lawbreaking. Most people do not question this.

    The root cause problem I see here is that we’re letting the actions of a very small majority set our macro-reactions:

    • A handful of people run the red and kill/injure others. Answer: punish EVERYONE who runs a red.

    • One person unsuccessfully tries to light his shoe on a plane. Answer: make the MILLIONS of people who fly take off their shoes.

    • A small handful of people (5-20?) theoretically make a “dry” run to blow up a plane with “liquid chemicals.” Answer: make the TENS OF MILLIONS of people who fly in many countries only bring liquids on board that can fit in 3oz bottles, that can fit in a quart bag.

    • A small handful of people (<50) hijack some planes and crash them into buildings, causing a few thousand deaths. Answer: TSA, Iraq & Afghanistan War, gutting the 4th and 5th amendments, Telecom domestic spying, world-wide instability, etc.

  4. Having lived in Houston years ago I was shocked that they are implementing a red light camera system. I thought driving like a lunatic and running red lights were unofficially included in the Bill of Rights for Houstonians.

  5. I thought driving like a lunatic and running red lights were unofficially included in the Bill of Rights for Houstonians.

    They are, which is why the red-light cameras are almost exclusively deployed to the poor neighborhoods.

    Check it.

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