2:32 PM CDT, May 27, 2013
I've heard a lot of complaints about red light cameras -- a cynical trick to reap revenue, an invasion of privacy, an unsuccessful safety measure. That was before I got a ticket for going through a red light -- my first traffic citation in 10 years. It cost me $100. And after my experience, I'm actually more amenable to them than I was before.
Why? The first reason is, doubting my guilt, I was able to go online and see the alleged infraction for myself. I remembered driving through that intersection, and I was sure I hadn't run the light. But when I watched the video, I saw what happened: I pulled up in the right lane, and with no traffic coming, turned at the light -- without quite stopping. Busted. There was nothing to argue about.
Nor was there anyone to argue with. Here is the second great advantage: I didn't get stopped by a police officer. That meant I didn't have to wait ten or 15 minutes while a cop ran my plates and filled out a ticket. I didn't have to answer any questions. I didn't have to deal with an officious attitude. Instead, I committed the violation, went on my way without interruption and got notified a few days later in the comfort of my own home.
An invasion of privacy? Anytime a camera is tracking you in public, you lose a bit of privacy. But being stopped by a cop feels a lot more invasive to me -- not to mention that it can lead to being required to take a field sobriety test or a request to search your car (neither of which has ever happened to me). Next to that, a red light camera doesn't seem so bad.
That's what I learned from this ticket. That, and to make sure I come to a stop before turning right on red.
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