Are red light cameras really just a hidden tax?
Across the country, more and more intersections are sporting cameras designed to catch vehicles running red lights and reduce traffic accidents.
In Ottawa, for instance, there are 33 red-light locations (it's a $325 fine) with 15 cameras on rotation.
The city decides when to rotate cameras based on road construction,
damaged camera housings and the number of crashes at the intersections.
But are these robotic photographers really up to the task of prevention or are they simply municipal fund generators? After all, the revenue isn't insignificant.
Which explains why local councillors are upset by being unable to collect on about 1,500 tickets because the violators were driving non-Ontario vehicles.
The most persistent argument in favour of red-light cameras is their "halo effect," a theory suggesting that motorists afraid of being ticketed will drive more safely everywhere.
And there are certainly studies that have report a significant drop in overall accidents since the implementation of the red light cameras. However, critics argue, rear end crashes increase at the same time.
Red light cameras do nothing more than unfairly “tax” by random selection and don't actually reduce traffic accidents, says one disgruntled driver.
What’s the problem, you ask? All cameras are announced by signs. Police officers don’t have to be at every corner. Red-light runners caught by camera lose no demerit points. Their fines ease taxpayers’ burden.
But some people still feel that the lights are rigged, prompting one California senator to introduce a bill which would prohibit cities or counties from using the cameras purely to raise cash, make it easier to get wrongfully issued tickets dismissed and eliminate so-called "snitch" tickets that threaten drivers with penalties based on sketchy information.
What do you think? Are red-light cameras an effective deterrent or are they simply another municipal money grab?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money