Lincoln’s Next Lively Debate?

November 25, 2008 at 2:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincolnites love a good local debate. Could Mayor Beutler’s proposal to legalize automated traffic cameras be the next fiery topic?

Nationwide, traffic cameras are loved and reviled. Municipalities love ‘em. Traffic cameras increase revenue for relatively little cost. Revenue increases even more when municipalities shorten yellow light times to increase red light violations. A few communities have been caught doing that. Motorists hate them. Nobody likes being caught in the act of doing something you’ve always gotten away with in the past. Plus, all those new brake lights lead to substantial increases in rear-end collisions in communities that install traffic cameras. Moreover, plenty of folks think it’s a little creepy to be watched by cameras wherever they go.

Before Lincoln installs traffic enforcement cameras, Mayor Beutler and other local officials are going to have to prove two things: first, that there is a problem; and second, that traffic cameras are the best solution. Maybe both are true, maybe they aren’t. Presumably we will learn more if the topic makes it onto the Unicameral’s agenda, and again if the City Council takes up the issue.

What is your gut reaction to the idea of using traffic enforcement cameras in Lincoln, whether for speeding, red light running, or other offenses?

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The Comments

JB November 25, 2008 at 3:28pm

I have increasingly noticed the opposite problem, people stopping at green lights.  This is moslty downtown where the installation of the countdown lights cause people to slam on their brakes when the numbers get under 5.  I have almost rear-ended about 5 cars that have done this and have witness several more near misses.  I rarely see a red light ran,  and I have been trying to look for them since this discussion has come up.  Guess what, I have not seen any.  Lincoln is the biggest defensive driving city I have ever been in.  This seems like a ploy to help make the city some money because they have none.

foxspit November 25, 2008 at 3:53pm

I haven’t seen what JB describes, but I do see people blaze through a 35 or 40 mph speed zone at 50. If the cameras could help curtail that, I’m all for it.

Matthew Platte November 25, 2008 at 5:29pm

Police have other things to attend to.  Signal violations are easily automated with a red-light camera.  I’m in favor of it. 

Also, a question for the red-light runners and speed-limit violators: do you watch network/cable television?

Mr. T November 25, 2008 at 7:05pm

My gut instinct tell me to support it. I like the idea of cost savings if it can spare police time, but its the safety improvements that win the argument for me. If the city can follow up on the data they collect by identifying areas where more accidents are occurring, that is a good thing.

As far as the creepy surveillance aspect, that doesn’t bother me too much as there is a limited expectation of privacy on the road anyway when it comes to your speeding behavior. Its not like we can expect to “hide” our speeding behavior from others on the road to begin with. So the surveillance aspect doesn’t bug me, at least relative to other types of surveillance that are MUCH more intrusive.

Nikkidemas November 25, 2008 at 7:19pm

I’ll be interested to see more information, but for now I’m in favor.  I like the idea of more revenue & being able to show off my car-dancing skills while waiting at a stop light. :D

beerorkid November 25, 2008 at 8:06pm

Just glad my bike does not have a license plate wink

JT November 25, 2008 at 8:23pm

What a liberal idea *rolls eyes*

Uncle Sam can stay out of my car and my house and my business. 

Here’s an idea, how about stop bloating government to the point that ‘revenue increases’ are necessary?  Besides what do you call this revenue for our government?  “Profit”?  No, profit implies honorable, mutual business transaction between two free parties.  It’s more like “plunder”.  It sickens me that in tough economic times like these late years, Uncle Sam only grows bigger and hungrier every day.

If the city (or state, whatever) is in that dire need of money they should put forth a tax hike on something, explain what the money is for.  At least then we will get a fair chance to fight for our rights instead of just submitting to voluntary addition of our own hard earned money to some politician’s “general” fund. 

What small freedoms and privacies we have left are NOT worth giving up to stop a few speeders.

meatball November 25, 2008 at 9:52pm

I’m not sure what downtown JB is in, but it sure isn’t Lincoln. I’ve never seen as much red-light running as I have on O St. in Lincoln, Nebraska. As for “creepy,” it’s not like they’re in my bedroom (no offense, Mrs. Meatball).

Dave K November 26, 2008 at 1:11am

I’m sorry, but I chuckled when reading this.  If anything, the countdown crosswalk tells people how much harder they have to press the gas pedal in order to beat the light.

Stacy November 26, 2008 at 4:40am

I have leaved in several states, and every time we would come back to Lincoln to visit, I would realize how much I hate the drivers here.  They are rude and most of all, they run red lights.  A LOT.  My husband and I will sit open mouthed as we count one… two… three and sometimes four cars going through the red light.  So put up the cameras.  I’ll wave at them as I stop at the red light.  I’ll teach my kids to wave too.

JB November 26, 2008 at 3:01pm

Wow, I guess I just miss everything.  I have never been close to being in an accident from someone running a red light, nor have I seen many people run red lights.  I drive a lot and do not see any of this that you all see.  I wonder if it different times that we drive or if you all consider running a red light when the light turns yellow and a car is in the intersection.  And I have seen many cars stopping early at green lights, in fact once, a car in front of me stopped and started again once he saw that the light still wasn’t yellow.

Gene November 26, 2008 at 3:21pm

I want the footage to be accessible on the internet.

After national elections there should be a national hug or something. Otherwise people argue about traffic cameras.

Julie Pinnell November 26, 2008 at 3:32pm

We already have the traffic cameras. I believe they are installed by the Public Works Department.

The police chief says that it would take an act by the legislature to make photo traffic enforcement legal in Nebraska. http://lpd304.blogspot.com/2007/04/candid-camera.html

Mr. Wilson November 26, 2008 at 3:44pm

The police chief says that it would take an act by the legislature to make photo traffic enforcement legal in Nebraska.

...which is exactly the point of the article I linked to above. Not that you would know that since KLIN has removed the article from their servers. I’m going to go curse at KLIN’s web administrators under my breath.

Fletch November 26, 2008 at 9:12pm

Our car was totalled last month as part of a 5-vehicle crash caused by at least one, but more likely TWO drivers running red lights. A great car with low miles and no payments bit the dust due to an idiot.

With all of that said, I hate the camera idea. There are times when I commit to a light, such as making a left turn, and then it turns yellow, and I need to pause momentarily to be sure not to get hit by someone and THEN I make the turn. I’d hate to have that rather innocuous occurance be rewared by a ticket in the mail 2 days later.

Eric S December 4, 2008 at 7:47pm

Unless the camera is going to give me a snap shot of my face…it seems a bit illegal. “Innocent until proven guilty” “Proof beyond doubt”. If a court is going to make me pay a fine for something they have no proof of me doing, besides me car there, there is a problem. What happens when a friend uses my car to run to Taco Hell, runs a red light, and I get stuck with a fine. That’s not the way the legal system is going to work, I’m sure this argument will get put out in the open if this goes any further.

Dave K December 5, 2008 at 1:20am

That’s a good point, and pretty much my philosophy when it comes to illegal downloading.  Sure, you can prove someone at that IP address downloaded something, but you can’t prove it was a particular person.  The law, if any, may be written so that the responsibility is on the person who owns the access to the IP address, but it seems like that would be an extremely difficult thing to uphold.

Having said that, I think the cameras that monitor red lights zoom in on the face as well as the car and license plate.

bigal December 6, 2008 at 4:59am

I live in Phoenix, and will tell you firsthand that speed cameras are a bad, bad, BAD idea.  That, in combination with lowering the speed limit to 55 on I-10 right before the Thanksgiving holiday (along with the camera’s settings being changed from 11+ mph to 10+ mph) apparently seemed like a good revenue idea to a city who ineptitude when it comes to budgeting anything is obvious to the point of obscenity. 


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