Personal Vendetta: Red Light Cameras

red light camera

I never thought it would happen to me.

I’ve seen the bright flashes of light when people run red lights and chuckled to myself as I silently mocked them for being dumb enough to run a red light at an intersection monitored by cameras.

I never saw the flash.

Other schmucks run red lights. Not me. How hard is it to stop when the light turns red at an intersection known to have cameras installed?

I don’t run red lights. I’m very careful to obey traffic laws and, occasionally, even the speed limit. I’m a defensive driver, not an aggressive one. So when I opened my mailbox on Friday and found an official-looking envelope from the Red Light Enforcement Program, my heart sank.

On the evening of May 20, the overlords of red-light monitoring took pictures of my car allegedly running through a red. There’s a photo of my license plate, my car at the light and my car in the intersection along with a ticket and a $124 fine.

A hundred twenty-four dollars.

And I didn’t do it.

Had I been pulled over for actually running through a red, I’d admit my guilt, pay my fine and learn my lesson. In this situation, though, the pictures tell the story of what happened. Take a look:


I approached the intersection on a one-way street, ready to take a right onto another one-way. The top picture clearly shows my brake lights on. The bottom shows my car in the intersection, but in the middle of my turn.

Last I knew taking a free right on a red light from a one-way onto another one-way was perfectly legal. Had a police officer seen the turn, I would never have been ticketed. Technology, though, can’t tell the difference between running a red light and taking a free right.

Needless to say, I intend to contest the infraction and hope the city agrees with my account.

The other part of this story that bothers me is that the ticket came from Tempe, Arizona, and my payment is supposed to go to Arizona. Ummm… I live in Washington and would prefer my traffic-infraction money to stay local.

Red light cameras shouldn’t be legal. They don’t tell the whole story, and they outsource the job of law enforcement to private companies in other cities. Not cool.

Have you ever been caught by a red light camera? Do you think they should be legal?


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1 Comment

  1. I can sympathize with you. The exact scenario happened to me in New Orleans. I didn’t argue the ticket, though, because the explanation on the ticket said that I should have stopped on red and then turned right. I think there are regional common traffic patterns like you’ve described. In Arizona you get free left turns at the end of a yellow light, but in New Orleans that was taboo. I would check on whether your free right turn is a law or just a common practice where you live. Either way, so sorry. I’ve been there and it sucks.

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