What do you think of red-light cameras?

As County officials announced recently, a red-light camera and video system is being installed at the intersection of Rio Road and 29 North. It's going up October 11, but there will be a 30-day "warning period" before red-light runners are sent $50 tickets in the mail.

So, what do you think of this idea? The Hook wants to know!

77 comments

Red light ticket machines are run by a for profit non US company.
that has a lot of problems.
No red light or photo radar ticket machines have ever survived a
public vote in the US.
This is like the "Albo Fees" they tried to stick us with a few years ago

Steve,
There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the way the local police use their authority. We've seen a number of disturbing things here in Charlottesville/Albemarle over the years. To mention a few: DNA collection and the serial rapist, the death of Frederick Gray, Gerry Mitchell's arrest and Michael Flaherty's behavior when he arrested the couple on Water St. I just don't think that cameras that take pictures of license plates of cars going through red lights is a problem. It is an effective way to enforce traffic laws. In fact it's probably a lot more effective than the traffic divisions of the local police departments.

While I enjoyed both novels, our world today is a lot more complex and different than Orwell's world of 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. I doubt either author foresaw a situation where a camera in a police officers car filmed him mowing down a wheelchair bound pedestrian while listening to the Black Eyed Peas singing My Humps.

BB- the violator has the right to confront who is writing the ticket in court. The camera. If the image is you, the plate is yours, and you can't figure a way out of this one, then you are quilty. There is no reason to run a red light. You run a red light, you are caught, you pay the fine (hopefully not an involuntary manslaughter charge atached) and you don't do it again.

What the heck is wrong with that?

You think you are going to talk your way out of running a red light if the cop is there to write the ticket? Think again. You run the light, you pay the fine , you get teh points and you move on- slowly.

The difference between Cville and other places is that in Cville, people tend to ENTER the intersection AFTER the light has turned red! Anyone can get caught in an intersection after having entered on a yellow, but these particular drivers are going way beyond that.

Re Dave's question about looking both ways before proceeding on a green, I admit to not being as cautious as I should be. I look, but really quickly, before gunning it through. The reason that I do this is because I'm trying to make up for the general pattern of dawdlers at lights in the hope I can lead more alert people through while the light is still green. Can't tell you how many times I've gone all the way through an intersection and looked in my rearview mirror to see the car behind me barely beginning to enter, leaving a long line of frustrated vehicles behind them. Presumably, some of those drivers will try to run the red so they don't have to wait another couple of cycles.

Charlottesville: We aggressively enter on Red, but sit there texting and daydreaming on Green. They don't use their signals either. Other areas of the country have nastier drivers. Ours fall in the category of completely oblivious.

That's the longest intersection this side of the Mississippi. Terrific way for the County to make some extra money. I suspect we will soon have cameras downtown.....waiiiiiit a minute

Yeah, I have a problem with the private enterprise aspect of this, but here's the bottom line:

1. There are signs before the intersection telling you they are using red light cameras.

2. Nearly everybody knows what a red light means.

3. If you fail to stop for the red light, the camera you were just warned about will take your picture and presumably catch you in the act of violating a traffic law.

So if you KNOW there's a red light camera and you still run the light, tough cookies for you. If the cameras were covertly placed, this would be a different situation. But they aren't.

TJB wrote: "And let’s not get into how digital images can be altered by anyone with a PC, meaning the person on the other end can easily generate income for the county by changing that yellow or green dot to a red one."

The camera is only activated when a car enters the intersection during a red light cycle. How is changing the "dot" color going to affect anything?

They will only increase rear end collisions if the collider is tailgating.

I have always wondered why someone must tailgate- been guilty of it for sure...you certainly do not get there any faster.

I have also wondered why someone must run a red light. You do not get there any quicker- relative to the clock.

I am not sure that a camera will stop the red light running immediately, but it surely will affect some bank accounts.

This is awful,although I had thought at one time that these traffic lights were synchronized they actually are not.They will catch motorist at almost every intersection and the county is now putting in traffic cameras to make money off of motorist. All I can say is be careful the cameras snaps a licence plate picture only to have a tickets sent straight to your residence.

Wow Wog, fascinating story. Picturing Jeff D in your Fiero with you makes it even more titillating.

Quite simply, these cameras are for revenue boosting and nothing more. Locals (hopefully) will heed the cameras presence and become more aware. A greater threat to our motoring safety are those who insist on driving (or not driving) while yammering on their wireless devices more than likely discussing something insignificant. As a local and non-cellphone owner, I have no problem with paying attention to what I'm doing while driving in the region red light cameras or not. Safety first, communication second!

horrible

Red light tickets are a crime of the government taking money from the citizens.

If the county rally wanted to make Rio Road and US 29 safer, they would conduct high profile and random police enforcement campaigns (with real cops not the cameras). It has already been shown, do you know of any police campaigns to enforce the madness at Rio Road and US 29? That's my point.

Such "red light" cameras are only to raise cash. Don’t let them fool you, the county is too lazy to put their backs into making traffic safer on 29. They really care less about safety and more about money.

Dave,

Thanks to a lot of years of driving up and down 29, I look both ways when the light turns green. That started once when I was waiting to make a left turn onto 29 southbound from Rio. The green arrows came on, and I had trouble getting my car into first gear. When I finally got it and started to go, a semi came charging through the long yellow light. Were it not for some recalcitrant synchronizers in my transmission, I may not be here to write this. I've seen too many other near misses.

But the answer is not to add cameras to enforce the red lights. The answer is to lengthen the yellows. If a vehicle has more time to safely cross an intersection, there is a lower chance of it hitting a car entering the intersection, no? Of course these cameras aren't about safety; they never are. And in many localities, they're gone within a year. All we have to do is not run that particular red light, or any where cameras exist. If the company running them can't make money, that's the end of them. If they shorten the yellows to catch more people, well, let's hope they don't.

Coy and Steve,
If it's a hidden tax does stopping for the red light make me a tax dodger? It's not a tax, it's a penalty and an effective way to use available technology. It's just fine with me if your penalty goes into the general revenue fund.

While I haven't seen pictures from these cameras I have seen them from similar cameras in Arizona. The photo I saw was very clear and the driver was easy to identify.

While too many people do run red lights when they ignore the yellow caution light at that intersection, many do stop. There are plenty of law abiding drivers using that intersection. Maybe you don't stop when you should but many others do. Are they getting rear ended now? Steve, your reasoning seems to be that folowing drivers are anticipating that the cars in front of them will continue through the light once it turns to yellow. Are there a lot of rear end collisions at that intersection now? If I have enough time and distance to safely stop at a yellow light I do and so do many others. Why didn't I get rear ended this afternoon when I stopped for a caution light at that intersection?

Could it be that both of you are running the lights now and just don't want to face an effective penalty? Coy, you call it a tax and that implies that you expect to have to pay. You do pay your taxes, right?

The red light situation in this area is the worst I've seen in frequent travels around the country (Well maybe Boston). The traffic management culture in this area is to reflexively place traffic lights and to be sloppy about how they're used. Often lights cycle 24/7 even though they may only be truly needed for a few hours a week during peak traffic times. There is a light near Washington Park which cycles to allow phantom traffic to leave the park at night when it's closed. Another on Hydraulic Road&Georgetown Rd. which allows an interval for phantom traffic leaving a dentist's office at midnight and still another at the intersection of Rosehill Drive and Rugby Ave. which is a ghost town at night, yet the light continues its mindless robot cycle. The failure of administrators to adequately program traffic lights for actual conditions (such as turning 90% of them to flashing red/yellow at night) promotes driver frustration and contempt for "the law".
These traffic cameras are a devil's deal between localities and corporate interests, sort of like a vending machine. The company supplies the equipment, takes the revenue, and gives the locality a cut of the profits. So the locality spends no money and gets a revenue stream. Priceless.

Kevin, not long ago we had to buy a city or county decal each year and place it on the windshield beside the inspection sticker. Would you have called that a tax or a source of revenue?

Now, we have to pay the same fee, but there is no decal that we need to place on the windshield. Since the fee is automatically added to one's tax bill each year, is it now a tax or a source of revenue?

For decades our taxes paid for weekly trash collection. But now we must buy stickers to have our trash picked up. Is the price of these stickers a tax or a source of revenue? If these trash stickers are now a source of revenue, shoudn't we get a tax refund since our taxes are no longer paying for trash collection?

Taxes... sources of revenue... in the grand scheme of life, it's all the same thing, IMHO.

Excellent PODCAST! Thank You, Coy Barefoot!

Everybody needs to set aside 36 minutes and listen to the PODCAST very carefully.

The Good, Bad & Ugly!

The Good: You don't have to pay a ticket delivered to you in the mail. (It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the Albemarle County General District Court)

The Bad: The taxpayers have once again been duped into believing a new hidden tax is for public safety!

The Ugly: Most people will write a check and mail it in. People simply don't have the back bone or time to contest this new tax revenue. Therefore, enough people will voluntarily pay these tickets to make this program successful in Albemarle County.

I think it is terrible that it has come to this. Too many people paying little or no attention to driving. Too many people talking trivia on the phone and in too big a hurry to stop at a red light while putting other peoples' lives in danger. How about three pictures and you loose your license for a year!

Charlottesville is a terrible city for red light running. Drivers here deserve more enforcement, but it should be done by live police officers who have presence and discretion that an automated camera can't provide.

The studies I've read indicate that while red light cameras may decrease the number of traffic accident injuries at an intersection (Less "Bad" accidents), the actual number of fender benders may actually increase. Rio and 29 seems like a "minor accident" type of intersection to me already.

This is most-likely just a revenue generation effort by the local government.

Assuming that each "offender" gets due process and has the right to a day in court, the best tactic for locals desirous of an end to this is to demand a hearing and show up to fight the tickets. I personally had a similar ticket in another city dismissed because the court was so backed up with people fighting their machine-generated citations that the statute's time limits for enforcement had passed. In any case, increased court burdens will quickly negate revenue benefits to the city/county and act as a disincentive for them to continue.

Of course the surest way to make sure it remains is to mail them a check when the thing arrives in the mail.

Can they actually capture the image of the person driving the car? If not aren't do they simply give the owner a ticket under the assumption that they were driving. How does this work in other states? Overall I think its just another big brother move....

I think its perfect!!!! I have never lived in a place were I have seen so many people that runs red lights as I see here in charlottesville. I'm talking sometimes 4 cars running a redlight. I think its great!!!

I think that fewer people would run red lights in C'ville if people knew how to drive.

Look folks - when the light turns green you are now in a position of public responsibility. You are not the only one on the road, and the road does not belong to you. Stomp of the friggin' throttle and clear the darned intersection! I'm not saying "don't be cautious" (in case someone is running a red) - but its is possible to be cautious and MOVE IT!!! at the same time. The lights only last for so long. Keep the damn traffic moving!

You putt-putt-putt through the lights people are as much a part of C'ville's traffic problems as the utterly stupid road layouts and traffic light controls.

So what I think is that this is a classic case of completely misplaced emphasis. Rather than teaching people how to drive we make seat belt laws and put cameras on red lights. Lets hear it for all of those 16 year olds out there "learning" to drive from parents who never learned to drive.

@ks is correct about length of this particular light. There should be a sign with 6' letters that reads SIGNAL ALLOWS TWO CARS PER GREEN.

Otherwise, the red light cam will a cash cow and seems as if it's meant to be such, instead of a "safety feature."

I'm extremely disappointed in the decision to install redlight cameras. I believe this is terrible public policy. I sincerely hope the cameras are soon eliminated.

I look both ways when the light turns green. Have ever since a friend lost both his parents when a red light runner t-boned their car.
Regarding the cameras, "book 'em Dano".
Now, if we could get all the CHO City and Albemarle CO vehicles to put on those "pace car" stickers and drive the speed limit...

Thanks for your responses! Another question: when a light turns green, do you take off straight ahead with out looking around, trusting the light, or do you still scan the intersection to see if any cars might be coming?

Dave McNair

Traffic studies have shown that the number of cars running red lights decreases when red-light cameras are installed and the number of rear end collisions increases. Traffic studies also have demonstrated that the same reduction in red light violations can be effected by increasing the length of the yellow light by 1.5 seconds with no increase in rear-enders.

Angel Eyes, it does not matter if driver's get frustrated. YOU DON'T RUN RED LIGHTS!! Driver's Ed. 101. If you run one, you pay...esp now...thanks to the cameras. Yay.

I love it! I have been in Charlottesville for nearly 3 yrs now, and I have never in my life seen SOOOOOOO MANY PEOPLE RUN RED LIGHTS!! I mean WOW! I have seen people run a red light before, and my reaction would be "OMG, that person just ran a red light!" But in Cville, it's like a regular thing. Start putting those citations in the mail, WHOO HOO!

As a motorcyclist I have never lived anywhere that has so many red light runners (or other terrible driving habits). I can almost guarantee witnessing one every time I go out for a ride through town. It will increase revenue no doubt, but maybe people paying some money, or the fear of paying some money will finally get them to obey the laws. Running lights kills people, very different from a speeding infraction. The whole rear ending thing seems like an excuse. Isn't that what yellow lights are for. If you are beyond 100 feet or so from an intersection in town when the light changes, you can stop. The problem people are the ones who gun it when they are about 200+ plus feet away and the light is red before they even enter the intersection.

Let me interject this as food for thought and see where it goes. The intersection in question, Rio and 29....If you are crossing 29 there are eight (8) lanes of traffic PLUS to cross. With the lack of patients of the average Cville driver, those who are oblivious to their current world (texting, talking on their cell phones, or just plain messing around (the kid jumping out of the car at the stop light to run an errand and the driver waiting thru a green light)) and the poor souls who seem to try to do the right thing...don't you think the current traffic pattern down 29 is a recipe for disaster? Regardless of "red light cameras"? I, for one, feel it's like putting a bandaid on a wound that needs stitches. It's a start, but not a complete solution....

I doubt the government was the one who asked for the cameras, it was probably other Americans just like you. Remember, when you run a red light, you aren't screwing the man, you are taking the green light rights away from your fellow man, and that's who asked their "big brother" what could be done to make sure every American is following the rules the apply to every other American.

The government can't win or lose in America, they are simply the referee. Life here could be a pick-up game if we all agreed to follow the rules on our own accord, but there are too many cheaters, so now we all have to pay the ref. The winners and losers are the people on the roads, not "big brother". He just gets paid in his role as referee.

Funny (not really) how many people get their panties in a bunch when a professional athelete they have never met is playing a game that has no impact on their life in a city they have never been to and makes a foul in the game. They are the same people who speed and run red lights in their own city, putting people they might know in danger, but complain about the "ref" who "has nothing better to do" than to "take away their rights". Treat life like you treat sports, and quit cheating! Then we can send the ref home and quit paying him, and still play the game the only we can win or lose.

To AT, who asked how it works in other states:

I can only speak for Collin Co Texas, where I live now. Red light cameras were installed at certain intersections 2 years ago. If you run a red light, lights flash and the camera makes a recording of your car going through the intersection. The owner of the car gets a notice in the mail a few days later. The fine is $75. There are no "points" assessed. If the owner wishes to contest the ticket, s/he ends up sitting down with a judge and they watch the recording. The rule here is that if any part of your car is in the intersection before the light turns red, you're not guilty.

Letting a private company run it is a mistake. Otherwise I realize running red lights is a problem but I think it's a problem that should have an officer solving it by writing tickets.

There are certain lights on 29 that every self-respecting citizen should run out of principle. I mean the new one at Schewels, and the recent additions at Burnley Station Road, the palm reader's place, and UVa's research park. All of these have gone up only because the local governments are too cheap to pay for proper overpasses when adding traffic onto our only major north-south route out of town. The Rio and Hydraulic intersections are now so packed and screwed up we really need overpasses to handle the volume. To treat these as normal surface streets is the real crime, and we should be sending tickets to the County to make them pay for the agony their incomptetence in planning causes us each and every day. Sure, we run lot of red lights in Charlottesville, but I bet our frustration levels are justifiably higher, too, since our "highway" is so much more littered with lights than any other place I've ever seen in the English-speaking world. But I wonder what the County's next step is -- something like in Maryland where they suddenly reduce speed limits on roads and have cameras set up to catch people who fail to instantly drop from 45 mph to 35? Maybe that way they can keep the stupid lakes open through Labor Day weekend.

i'm one of the few tractor tralier drivers out there that supports this necessary evil, i also support red light cameras, and all trucks in right lane unless turning left when coming into towns, and especially at traffic lights. i think the revenue generated by this is the best idea to date. i say pay to play and its better than tax hikes. all drivers have got away with this anything go's way to long, and the cops never seem to inforce anything but speeding. now i find myself supporting things i would otherwise be opposed to.

WINA's Coy Barefoot recently interviewed Washington Times editor Richard Diamond who has been researching and writing about red light cameras for more than a decade. The link to the podcast is below. Some of the takeaways: Redflex is the Australian company that is providing Albemarle's cameras- so the first $10K every month would go out of the country to this private co. in Australia; Diamond discusses some of the tactics Redflex uses to maximize profits (80% of those who get "tickets" will have passed through the red light less than one second after the yellow changes); there is a real question to which these "tickets" are enforceable, Diamond suggests we all toss them in the garbage because they don't have the money or authority to go after us; these cameras are in clear violation of the Virginia Constitution, which says that all money collected from infractions against laws must go to the schools (not to the Alb. Co. police dept and certainly not to Australia); and of course the indisputable fact that these cameras do make intersections less safe-- studies from around the country and Canada show this over and over again. Diamond argues: they don't want the intersection to actually be safer, because that will mean less money. This is about creating a new revenue stream for Albemarle County. It's a hidden tax. Period.
PODCAST IS HERE: http://bit.ly/abJioo

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Steve,
I know it's another source of revenue, it just isn't a tax. I pay my taxes but I'm not going to have to pay this fine. Using fines as revenue is not a problem for me. Let the guilty pay for the costs they generate.
Sending out the citation to the registered owner of the vehicle does bother me. I'd be much happier if the photos produced a clear image of the driver. The law would also be more effective if these violations counted as points and became a part of a drivers record. Since these violations are civil they don't produce points or go on the drivers record. I suspect this law is another example of a poor compromise.

I wonder how alternative routes like Hydraulic and Earlysville Road will be affected by drivers avoiding the cameras.

Steve,
You say to-may-to and I'll say to-mah-to. Either way, let the guilty buy the ketchup, or is it catsup?

Kevin, I really don't have a dog in this fight. Other than my belief that people are voluntarily giving up every right they have as an American citizen, as in our society really is becoming a police state.

I have never received a ticket for running a red light, and I don't plan on getting my first at the intersection of Rio Road & 29 North. It is however going to be quite interesting to see who gets tickets and whether they contest them or not. As the registered owner of 7 vehicles currently, I do not plan on paying any red light camera tickets unless the cop shoppe places me in the car as the driver.

The bypass and parkway will greatly reduce the traffic at this intersection, making life wonderful on 29 north. Cameras will not be needed in the very near future.

Music Lover, having worked radar in Greene County myself, and having seen the tickets other deputies wrote as well, it was nowhere close to 90% local residents. I think the trooper you were speaking to misundersttod the question you were asking him/her.

Harry D, let me explain why red light cameras increase rear end collisions. With people now realizing the cameras are in place, those who would normally speed up and try to beat a yellow light will now slam on their brakes instead. And the people behind them will continue to speed up trying to beat that yellow light thinking the person in front of them will do the same thing. You can't change the statistics nationwide. And those statistics prove that rear end collisons increase at intersections with red light cameras.

The biggest problem I have with red light cameras and rear end collisons is the fact there's so many people out here driving with no insurance nowadays. None whatsoever. And for whatever reason DMV hasn't been sending out insurance verification letters to registered owners for the last several years. If you get rear ended at the Rio Road and 29 intersection, chances are 50-50 the driver that hits you will not have any insurance at all. And if your insurance company ends up paying out $200,000 in damages and medical bills, YOUR insurance will be cancelled on the next renewal date.

An issue so far not discussed here: Who gets the ticket? If my son is driving my car and goes through the red light does he get the ticket? Does the photo/photos capture an image of the driver and if so, can it be used to prove that I was not the one behind the wheel?

If you are stupid enough to not pay attention to the red light, pay the man. If you are even stupider to give your car to someone else, pay the man anyway and then go beat the money out of your "buddy". Or you can ride bus. Your choices.

Actually I didn't know until last week that all those cameras up and down 29 weren't already working! I have no problem with it; people here seem to think that red lights mean "slow down a little." I've seen too many near-misses, and had a couple myself, with red-light runners.

I think they are great (psych!)....maybe the police officers in this town can now go out and enforce something other than TRAFFIC LAWS. Wait a minute...traffic laws are a source of revenue.....I would love to know the statistics of the number of people who are found guilty ( when they show up in traffic court) vs. the conviction rate of non-traffic related "crimes". I am willing to bet the this ratio is like 100 to 1.....Doesn't anyone care about this? If the town really cared about traffic safety, instead of making the driver pay a fine, they should make the driver pay for a class to improve his/her driving skills.

Does anyone know how much money is generated in traffic tickets each year? I am truly curious. ( Charlottesville and Albemarle county )

I think it's a Crime, Big brother watching You type of stuff, But what bothers me is that these tickets will be issued by a private company working for the county. And let's not get into how digital images can be altered by anyone with a PC, meaning the person on the other end can easily generate income for the county by changing that yellow or green dot to a red one. And since I was always told that you have the right to confront your accuser in a court of law, How's that gonna work for a camera, Government is out of control on all levels, time to take out the trash.

While running red lights is a problem in this area having cameras record it and mailing tickets out is wrong. I should have the right to confront who ever is writing the ticket. I don't think the board of supervisors is worrying about the crime just some easy money for them to spend; it's still wrong! If you think it's wrong contact you supervisor and tell them so and tell them if it is not stopped you will remove them form office. After that contact your state Delegate and Senator and tell them the same thing since they changed the law to allow this. WE are the government and if we want to bad enough we can change things!

Considering this is an intersection with pathetically short green and yellow lights for it's size, they'll rake in the cash. I've been the 3rd car in the left turn row on Rio, entered the intersection with a green light, and not gotten across before it turns red.

At the end of 6 months I would like to see the actual percentage increase in the amount of rear end collisions at this intersection, compared to the rear end accidents for the 6 months prior to these cameras going into service. It's nothing more than a trade off. Less accidents caused by people running red lights, but more rear end collisons caused by Mr. Obey Da Law who slams on his brakes to make sure he doesn't get a red light summons in the mail.

It does not reduce the total amount of accidents, it simply increases revenue to the county. The reporter needs to ask whether the tickets going out in the mail will be written as a state law violation or as a county law violation. It does make a difference as to where the money goes obviously.

I live between Charlottesville and Richmond. Guess where I'm going to be shopping after the eleventh of October. Short Pump alone has more stores than all of Charlottesville. If enough people abandon the shops and businesses along Rt 29, the business owners will apply pressure to the local government.

I like Joe's idea. I'm retired and perfectly willing to spend days clogging the courts...
BB has the right idea, too. Complain to your supervisor and county and state officials.
Intersection cameras are no more than a revenue stream for both the private company manning the cameras and the local government that hired it.
They, the camera operators have no concern about "accidents," just raking in money.

Frankly, I'd rather be taxed than victimized by government sanctioned theft.

I lower my sunglasses like The Rock; scan the intersection, then proceed slowly through the intersection so all the ladies get a good view of my sled.

We will never see the police ticketing the people who sit motionless for the duration of green lights.

Why not fine the ding-a-ling who designs these horrible intersections?

Jeff D - You should have been in the car with me a few years ago when I was sitting at the intersection of Barracks Rd and Millmont waiting to turn left into Barracks Rd North. The car in front of me in the turn lane was full of college age males. One of them climbed out the back window and dashed into a Barracks Rd North store while the car sat through the green light. I got out of my vehicle, walked up to the drivers door and said "The next time that light turns green, I am going to push you through the intersection if you don't go on your own." Fortunately for all involved, the errant errand runner dashed back to the car and climbed back in the window before the next green and just in time for the car to pull (illegally) into the through traffic lane and for all to go on their merry way.

Always look to the left for oncoming traffic before entering an intersection when the light turns green. This was the first thing I taught my three student drivers. I truly believe it has saved four lives, more than once, at Rt. 29N and Ashwood Blvd.

As for the cameras. It is about time. If that doesn't work, do I have permission to go bounty hunting? Seriously, what is with red light runners in this town? Two cars per light cycle? Is that after reading the morning paper, brushing your hair, and downing a cup of Joe? Yeah, that's me in your rearview mirror wondering why you are on the road.

Wow, major brain fart. Where it says "a semi came charging through the long yellow light," I meant to say "the red light." I Had my next point on my mind and wrote it a little early.

It is about time. I will feel safer now.

If you think this is just about revenue and you don't want to pay, well you don't have to. It's really simple, just stop for the red light.

I've been stopping for red lights at that intersection for many years and I have not been rear ended once.

I am happy to see the police use this technology to enforce laws that protect the public safety.

Red light cameras are just like "speeding enforcement" in neighborhoods. The very first people who get caught and whine are usually those who asked for and are glad to see the enforcement in place.

Back in the early 70s, the residents around Angus Road were whining about hot rodders leaving Kenny Burger and speeding up Angus Road. When the police responded and worked radar for several weekends, the majority of those caught were residents of the neighborhood. The hot rodders had warned each other not to go up Angus Road.

The police couldn't catch the real hot rodders anyway. They all had finely tuned muscle cars. And all the police had was a new fleet of new full size Dodge Polaras with the 383 4 barrel V-8s that sputtered and backfired from all the city driving day in and day out.

I guess you at least have a picture of the car and license plate with the red light cameras. Because times haven't changed much. A Honda outran every county police car that joined in the chase on Rio Road about 2 weeks ago.

Money would have been better spent on synchronizing the stop lights in C-ville and on 29. Every light is always red when you pull up and the light on Rio Road is particularly menacing as it only allows two cars through on a green. Boo to Big Brother. I have lost all faith in the decision making of our government. It would be nice to see an officer or politician caught on camera running the light. God is great, beer is good and people are CRAZY!!

This is terrible - KS is right about the length and where these cameras have been installed (here in VA and elsewhere), the companies contracted to manage them have wound up shortening yellow lights even further in order to jack up the number of tickets in order to generate enough revenue to recoup the cost of the equipment. GSOE is spot-on - the rear-end collisions are the telling feature.

Yes, far, far too many people run red lights on 29N. This is not a symptom of lawlessness so much as a symptom of a broken road system. How about instead of RLCs we take out a few of those obnoxious lights!. Fashion Square Mall has THREE lights. Why did Schewell's get their very own traffic light? The situation is as bad as it is because we allowed traffic engineering policy to be dominated and dictated by the US-29 business lobby - Carter Myers and his buddies - instead of sound traffic engineering principles.

Well, lots of county revenue, more road rage and more congestion...just to give the Big Boxes left-hand turn lights. Access roads folks...access roads...there is no reason US-29 cannot completely satisfy the entire local and through demand and do so without being clogged up.

I want to know who will be organizing to sue over this? I'll be joining in...

As an avid cycler the unfortunate truth is that most of the lights in town do not recognize and respond when I pull up to the light. Being a law abiding citizen I have literally sat at red light for over 15 minutes waiting for it to change in the wee early morning hours(and the only reason it changed is that a car came along to activate it!). If the entire signaling system isn't revamped I will be receiving a lot of tickets because I have no other choice than to run a red!

If they're going to raise some money with the red-light runners, maybe they're going to build an overpass instead of a Texas-sized open space. Oh, I forgot, I live in Charlottesville.

I have a plave in CVille as well as Charlotte, NC. These cameras have been in place in Charlotte, NC for years and they're affect. Follow common traffic laws and you won't have a problem. About a year ago they expanded in Charlotte to vans having cameras set in them with cameras. These cameras were linked to police cars further down the road and used to stop speeders. Don't drive like a jerk and this won't have any impact on you.

about time

You forgot the hot coffee, HarryD. Some of the worst drivers out here are those consuming their hot morning coffee on the way to work.

Good questions, Mr. McNair. However, I believe that driver distraction is the main traffic issue in C'ville and elsewhere. Running a red light can cause a collision, but talking on your cell or eating a sandwich can do equal or greater harm. A week ago, CSPAN aired a day-long symposium regarding driver distraction. The Secretary of Transportation was the last speaker. The movement to ban all driver cell-phone use (including hands-free devices; it's a cognitive issue not a mechanical one that causes accidents) is finally starting to gain traction. Most citizens are behind prospective legislation enacting an all-out ban on cell-phone use while driving, but nationwide, lawmakers are dragging their heels.

Dave, how about doing a story on how local citizens and legislators feel about a ban on all cell-phone use while driving?
FocusDriven.org would be a great place to start. And yes, I believe that Gasbag is absolutely correct--the new cameras on Route 29 will increase rear-end collisions. Are there not all sorts of neurological implications that accompany whiplash, by the way? Enhanced revenue at the cost of more brain injuries is not an acceptable tradeoff.

The red light cam works. It doesn't know that it is a camera. It is totally impartial. In order not to get a summons, don't run the light.

Pay more attention to what you are supposed to be doing while in command of a motor vehicle. Think ahead of your vehicle- maybe even ahead of the vehicle in front of you. Heck, maybe even further ahead than that!

Keep your head out of your phone, blackberry, your newspapers and out of your butt and give us all a break and drive your car instead of complaining that someone is trying to collect a fine to support a local government.

Mickiemac wrote: "Locals (hopefully) will heed the cameras presence and become more aware."

That's unlikely. I used to live north on 29 just south of Green County. The State Police used to set up a speed trap on the north-bound lanes of 29 just before Sheets almost - literally - everyday. When the State Police weren't there, quite often the Green County Sheriff's office was. For years. I was more surprised when I didn't see a cop there.

One day I was talking to a State cop in Sheets and asked what the ratio of locals to out-of-towners they ticketed, and he said it was about 90% locals.

And they were there for years, in plain sight, not hiding.

SO I seriously doubt the red light cameras will be observed with any consistency by locals. If people think they can get away with running the light, and are in a hurry or are just arrogant jerks, they're going to run the light.

gasbag i was going to say thats BS, glad you cleared that 90% up.

If I had read the press release from the county I would have had the answer to the question about photo identification of the driver.
From the press release:
•only vehicles that enter the intersection after the light turns red will trigger the camera system
•no photos will be taken of the inside of the vehicle or of any vehicle occupants
•there is a $50.00 civil fine for each photo enforced red light running violation
•the operator of the vehicle is liable for the fine
•violators have an opportunity to view their violation online

The problem created by an inablility to clearly identify the drivers is a much better argument against the cameras than the silly tax and rear ending claims. The press release also says, "The operator of the vehicle is liable for the fine. The video and photographed evidence of the red light violation will be available for review and inspection by the registered owner or driver of the vehicle." What happens when the driver isn't the registered owner? This question isn't asked in the county police department's list of frequently asked questions about the cameras.

@Dave McNair - I pause for a couple of seconds, making sure nobody's running a red before I take off. I never take off without scoping the intersection. To do otherwise is not smart. I've lived and driven all around the country so it's just a habit I got into after living in areas like south Florida with the worst drivers you've ever seen.

@Grace - I don't think those are cameras you've seen up and down 29, I think those are the remote signal changers used by fire trucks and ambulances, which turn red lights green so they can get through. They look like cameras though, propped on top of the lights, pointing down at the intersection.

My qualm with the camera on Rio is that I read awhile back that it would ding you even if you found yourself in the middle of the intersection with the light changing to yellow. If that's the case then that's b.s. No other way to put it. That's a long intersection. It's one thing if you hit the intersection when it's yellow, about to go red, but it's another thing entire if you hit it while it's still green, then it changes to yellow when you're halfway through. What are you supposed to do? I can already see me cutting my trips up the 29 north down because of this, because I don't want to take the risk. Which means, less money being given to the county when I stop shopping anywhere north of Rio Road.

*entirely, not entire

And not that the county caresw whether I cut my trips down and stop shopping north of Rio, I'm sure. They'll be making so much revenue from all the tickets generated by this camera they won't need my piddly spendings at wherever I could be going north of Rio.

Just so you know if you get a ticket while using a rental car a lot of companies pay it and bill a 200 dollar handling fee. Read the fine print. They have already paid it by the time you get the bill so there is no legal way to contest that it was you.

On another note.. red kight cameras have been removed because they caused way too many accidents from drivers who slammed on the brakes the second they saw a yellow light even thought they were only a few feet from entering the intersection. The accidents occur at 10 mph where it can hardly be caused tailgating as you both just started proceeeding forward.

This is a money grab with very minor results to the communty.

It is also unfair in that the 200k a year guy can afford to pay while the single mom trying to get to pick up her kid from day care on time who is caught in traffic because the government cannot time the lights now must choose between a 40 dollar ticket or a 40 dollar penalty for being late getting her kid. Of couse that was the forty dollars she was going to use to pay her cap and trade increase in her electric bill.....

Kevin, there is a MAJOR problem with red light cameras. Once again, a law has been passed where YOU you are guilty until you prove your innocence. If I am on a cruise ship 1,000 miles from Rio Road & 29 North when my daughter runs a red light, the law says I was the driver..... until I prove otherwise.

Virginia state code § 15.2-968.1 says, and I quote....

D. In the prosecution for a violation of any local ordinance adopted as provided in this section, prima facie evidence that the vehicle described in the summons issued pursuant to this section was operated in violation of such ordinance, together with proof that the defendant was at the time of such violation the owner, lessee, or renter of the vehicle, shall constitute in evidence a rebuttable presumption that such owner, lessee, or renter of the vehicle was the person who committed the violation. Such presumption shall be rebutted if the owner, lessee, or renter of the vehicle (i) files an affidavit by regular mail with the clerk of the general district court that he was not the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation or (ii) testifies in open court under oath that he was not the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation.

Now, getting back to the original discussions about this red light camera system, Chief Miller told the Board of Supervisors that the program would be abandoned if it did not pay for itself. In other words, if the program does not make a profit. So please tell me how it's not just another source of revenue. If this red light camera system was really about "public safety", the county would pitch in $2,000 to pay the $10,000 a month bill if the photos only generated $8,000.

Of course you shouldn't run a red light - that's just plain ol' good driving. However, this intersection is HUGE and should, at the very least, have a longer yellow...but nobody in charge of the signal lights seems to feel that way. This is evidenced by the horrid way the lights are set up on Route 29 itself. On top of that is the length of the light cycle at this intersection.

It all adds up to frustrating drivers who simply want to get where they're going. No, that's not at all a valid reason to run a red light but I suspect that there are plenty of local folks that don't intentionally run the red light but are simply trying to get through the light so they don't have to sit there idling for 3 minutes until the next green.

If they would simply time the signals to allow for constant, controlled traffic flow then I theorize you would get fewer red light runners as well as fewer complainers. I always cite Monument Ave in Richmond as a good example of this: if you drive the speed limit then the lights turn green as you approach them; if you speed down the road you'll hit every red light. Thus, it encourages drivers to go the speed limit - which is what everybody wants anyway, right? (Assuming this is about safety and not revenue!)