NC Senate considers red light camera ban

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Submitted: Thu, 04/07/2011 - 1:21am
Updated: Thu, 04/07/2011 - 5:47pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A bill in the North Carolina Senate could put a stop to the use of red light cameras that catch drivers in the act of breaking the law.

“I think we all understand how the traffic lights work and we’d be alright,” said Wilmington driver Daniel Trevor.

The City of Wilmington, however, put up 13 red light cameras to help drivers understand a little more. Now, a bill in the North Carolina Senate wants to outlaw photographic traffic regulators… in other words, put the brakes on red light cameras.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea basically because in the intersections in the City of Wilmington, we’ve seen a great reduction in traffic accidents in those intersections where we have those red light cameras.” Wilmington Police Officer Craig Melville said the cameras are beneficial, but the bill to ban them got through the Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday without opposition.

Wilmington driver Joyce Simmons said even though she’s been caught on camera, she does not agree with the ban. “Yes, I still paid the ticket because it was me. It was totally me. You couldn’t deny it at all. So, it’s pretty good. It keeps the city safe, you know, and like I said, a lot of people get into accidents, you don’t know who caused it, the cameras are there. I think they should stay.”

Trevor thinks the ban is a fantastic idea. “Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like there’s police on the road, and having the cameras is kind of overkill. I don’t know, feels kind of like Big Brother in my opinion.”

“We put them at the highest accident locations, so that’s why we strategically put them there, but I think probably every intersection, people are probably wondering if cameras are there or not, so in the back of their mind, I’m sure it does actually help at all intersections,” said Officer Melville.

If passed, the bill would ban all red light cameras in the state but would, in turn, impact students. Currently, fine money goes toward camera operational costs and schools. The full North Carolina Senate is set to consider the bill soon. If it gets the green light, it would move on to the North Carolina House.

A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found the cameras save lives and prevent crashes in intersections, but other studies suggest the cameras increase other kinds of accidents such as rear-end fender benders.


  • canute says:

    In Raleigh, the red light cameras kill more people. So the IIHS said in their report in February 2011.

    Out of the $6 million, Cary NC collected on red light cameras, Cary gave $5.4 million to RedFlex Traffic Solutions.

    In Raleigh, it’s 100% to ATS.

    Brian Ceccarelli
    Apex, North Carolina

  • Wilmingtonian for 35 yrs says:

    Let’ see … they save lives … make intersections safer … provide funding to schools … so lets eliminate them. Have the folks in Raleigh lost their minds?

  • canute says:

    The premise of red light camera enforcement is that all people who run red lights are bad drivers.

    The red light camera data shows otherwise. The reason why 99.99% of all people run lights in NC is because the NCDOT does not know that yellow light durations are supposed to be based on the Laws of Physics. Seriously, they don’t know F = ma. And so they treat a 45 mph car as if it going 20 mph, and time the yellows as if they are going 20 mph.

    See Exhibit H at the website below. Cary’s own data . . . a testimony to how in the dark our traffic engineers are.

    The same equation the NCDOT uses, is the same one all cities use all over the world.

    I am not against red light cameras. It is just that you cannot use red light cameras to enforce imprecise engineering precisely. Fix the engineering, then let the cameras come up. The cameras will not come up after that. Why? Because there will be no one running red lights anymore. No profit in it.

    Brian Ceccarelli
    Apex, North Carolina

  • yaqngie says:

    Does anyone know who to contact if we want to fight this? Once again the state is trying to ban something state wide that should be left up to the counties. Let each county figure out whats good for them.

  • yaqngie says:

    This money and lottery money might be going to the schools but every time another penny from these projects get added to school budget the state removes more of what it contributes to the school budget. The school budget is not increasing it is staying the same and just the percentages that the lottery and red light funds increase while state funds decrease. Sad way they managed to work around that and still stick it to use NCers

  • Guestasis says:

    Lottery and red light camera money goes to education. OK great, but is this ADDITIONAL money for education or does it just take the place of some of the current funding?

    I would think if this was truly additional money on top of what is normally budgeted, then we would not have any budget problems with education.

  • LAFredrickson says:

    IF the schools have been profiting on the funds raised from BOTH red light infractions and the NC Lottery sales, why do they still need fund raisers? I don’t think the money is actually getting there- or something else is going on….

    I don’t think our streets are safer for having the cameras in place either.

  • Lauren says:

    As a motorcycle rider, I couldn’t agree more that the yellow light system is flawed, and I’ll also add that it’s dangerous.
    For instance, the light at Wooster and 3rd, where traffic is going onto the bridge, has a ridiculously short yellow light. Twice I’ve waited at that red light a few vehicles back on my motorcycle. When it turned green, as I approached the light going 25mph, the light then cycled from green to yellow to red so quickly that I didn’t stand a chance; my only choices were either to blow through the red or to slam on my brakes and likely lay the bike down in the middle of the intersection. I chose the former both times, obviously, and it’s always been in the first 2 seconds that the light was red.
    Neither time have I received a ticket for it, I’m assuming because the workers at the office that issues the tickets have a better understanding of physics than the NC-DOT does. (Or maybe they just take pity on a small female on a relatively big bike, hehe.)

  • yaqngie says:

    I disagree a huge majority of the people that run red lights do it because they dont want to wait for the next light cycle. They know if they are past the white line then they need to clear the intersection. I see people run them all the time, specially when in the turn lane!

  • sheri allen says:

    I was there visting my daughter on 12-3-2011, Drving on WB market st/ us 17 @ 23rd st. drivng slower than posted and the light turned yellow then a blink of my eyes and it was red, and my picture was taken, oh well 50.00 bucks easy money, I live in a much smaller town, and have timed the light change here, guess what say 1000/1 and there light changes, you count to 1000/1 1000/2 1000/3 our light changes, try it it’s the truth, they need to set the light on the right timer, it’s just a way to make money, we need to fight against it. If I had of stopped I would have been in the middle of the intersection.

  • Challengetheworld says:

    Mr. Ceccarelli:

    I guess you must have been upset after the third or fourth one of these came in the mail? Perhaps you would have liked it better if a police officer stopped you and wrote you a ticket? Would that be better for you?

    The problem is, there are more traffic lights then there are police officers, and there are more people running red lights constantly. Regardless of the reason, if you run a red light, you have broken the law and you run a risk of injury and or worse by doing so.

    The issue here is people are pissed off about getting caught. There is no way traffic cameras cause more traffic crashes. What causes the crashes are IMPATIENT AND LAW OBSTRUCTING drivers. Our roads are highly over crowded in the greater Wilmington area and it is difficult to get from point a to point b, however, we need traffic lights and we need regulation.

    The cameras, whether they or there or not, cannot stop impatient people from causing traffic crashes. They also cannot cause them to happen! The people do!

    I’ve recieved one of these tickets, and I paid it. It made me slow down and realize I could have hurt someone.

    NOW – I will not say anything to the topic of the management of how the funds are distributed. Clearly, this needs to be more transparent in nature.

  • Guy says:

    The Insurance Institute’s study is based on very flawed data. There’s no point in even citing them as a resource. The cameras should be banned throughout the United States.

  • RSmith says:

    I bet if the law allowed the Senate to misappropriate the funds like they have the lottery, we would not even be reading this article!

    “cameras increase other kinds of accidents such as rear-end fender benders.”

    No!.. absent-minded/preoccupied drivers cause rear-end fender benders, not cameras! When the brake lights of the car in front of you come on, you apply your brakes too!

  • Guest3230 says:

    The city clowns, oops I mean council need to up the parking meters to $50.00/hr. I see taxes going up because Wilmington is loosing more of the ways it has to soak the public/taxpayer (ie: goodby annexation). How about tolls at the bridges and the end of I-40 to get into your fine city.

  • canute says:

    There are 2 reasons why the NC Senate is considering a State-wide ban on red light cameras.

    1. NC Senator Don East, who started the bill, is a retired police officer, who firmly believes in Bill of Rights and belives that the accused should have the right to face his accuser. He also knows that there are many extenuating cirsumstances which cause drivers to run red lights, causes which are not the driver’s fault.

    2. To the end, what would you say if the City of Wilmington passed a law forbidding Newton’s Law of Gravity? That every time you walked on the ground, Wilmington would fine you $75 – $110? Would you pay it?

    But that is exactly what Wilmington is doing. But with a different Law of Newton. Newton’s Second Law of Motion. F = ma.

    In North Carolina, our beloved NCDOT uses 2 standards (ITSS Std 5-2-2) to set the duration of yellow lights. Both standards violate Newton’s Second Law of Motion. One standard violates the Second Law worse than the other. Both NCDOT “standards” literally force drivers to run red lights. Here are the real reasons why the vast majority of drivers run red lights:

    a. Did you know that the length of the yellow light is half the time it takes you to stop your car? Did you know that you cannot stop your car within the time the light is yellow? Next time you are on the road, notice that half the time you stop for a light, the light is already red. *Yellow does not mean slow down.*

    b. Did you know that the NCDOT sets left turn lane yellow arrows to 3.0 seconds regardless of speed limit? That gives you 48 ft to stop. 48 ft is the length of a bus. Can you stop your 45 mph car in 48 ft? 48 ft is for a 20 mph car. A 45 mph, on a level road, needs 194.5 ft by Newton’s Law of Motion. The Town of Cary already has penalized 100,000 people for not being able to stop their 45 mph car in 48 ft.

    The NCDOT and the Town of Cary cause hundreds of serious accidents this way. Do you like that? Mother Nature does not take too kindly to being violated. Why are problem intersections in Wilmington problem intersections? Do you actually think thousands of drivers temporarily get insane at these intersections, then suddenly get better at the next intersection? Or do you think it is something more reasonable–like a NCDOT engineer who doesn’t know engineering nor the Laws of Motion? Even at the NCDOT’s best, by NCDOT’s own standards, Wilmington, Raleigh and Cary penalize drivers for obeying Newton’s Second Law of Motion. That is why there is so much money in the red light camera business.

    b. Did you know that the NCDOT, by their own standard, creates a dilemma zone? The dilemma zone is well-known engineering failure. It is a zone of undecision, where upon seeing a light turn yellow, you don’t know whether you have the distance to proceed or the time to stop. Did you know this dilemma zone engineering failure guarantees a steady stream of cars running lights and crashing? DOTs tell us to “judge” whether to stop or go. Did you know that we are not supposed to judge, but rather that the NCDOT is simply supposed to tell us whether we must stop or go?

    Explicit in the math of Std 5-2-2, the NCDOT is supposed to paint a line on the road at the safe braking distance from the light. If the light turns yellow before you cross the line, you must stop. If the light turns yellow after you cross the line, you must proceed. That is the meaning of the yellow light. Didn’t know that did you? That’s because the NCDOT does not tell you. The NCDOT does not even fulfill their own standard.

    Red light cameras enforce imprecise engineering precisely. Red light camera companies exploit the discrepancies and make money by the gullibility of our government, and with the aid of the self-righteous driver and of the press who know no different.

    3. You think the money is going to public schools? (Didn’t hear of the Shavitz vs the City of Highpoint ehh? Look it up.) In the Town of Cary, 91% ($5.4M of $6M)of collections goes straight to RedFlex Traffic Systems. This is a violation of the NC Constitution, but Wake County at the moment gets away with this for “cleverly” redefining the word “clear proceeds.” This redefinition would not stand up to a legal challenge. But for some crazy reason, the Wake County School does not want to press the issue. In Raleigh, 100% of the money goes to American Traffic Solutions. What is your camera company’s percentage take in Wilmington?

    Those are the reasons why Don East and the NC Senate want to repeal the red light cameras.

    Red light cameras can only be used as an enforcement tool when first the NCDOT can build an intersection using standards that obey Newton’s Laws. Engineering first. Education second. Enforcement third. In that order. Until then, it’s $50, $75 – $110 to everyone who obeys the Law of Gravity.

    For the documentation on this, I posted it on the web site below. It’s all from the NCDOT and the Town of Cary. Enjoy.

    Brian Ceccarelli
    Apex, North Carolina

  • Guest421 says:

    I recall when the first cameras were installed, someone questioned whether or not the camera company was manipulating the time the yellow was on to increase revenue and one of their reps mentioned that “as motorists become familiar with the cameras, yellow duration can be decreased”, or something very close to this quote. I hope they are removed statewide. Just a ripoff and totally inconsistent with our legal rights to face our accuser.

  • dothemath says:

    canute says:
    b. Did you know that the NCDOT sets left turn lane yellow arrows to 3.0 seconds regardless of speed limit? That gives you 48 ft to stop. 48 ft is the length of a bus. Can you stop your 45 mph car in 48 ft? 48 ft is for a 20 mph car. A 45 mph, on a level road, needs 194.5 ft by Newton’s Law of Motion. The Town of Cary already has penalized 100,000 people for not being able to stop their 45 mph car in 48 ft.

    48 feet to stop?! What are you talking about?

    If you’re 48 feet from the intersection when the light turns yellow, and it’s yellow for 3 seconds, you’ll be in the intersection before the light turns red unless you’re going 11 mph or slower. If the intersection itself is 50 feet across (that’s 4 lanes), you’ll clear the intersection before red as long as you’re going at least 22 mph. Where does this “48 feet to stop” come from?

    At 45 mph, you may or may not need 194.5 feet to stop, but if you keep going, you’ll cover 198 feet before the light turns red. So if you were 48 feet from the intersection to begin with, you crossed the intersection and went another 100 feet down the road! So what’s the deal?

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