The Red Eye

January 24, 2011 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Most of you have probably noticed the cameras at various intersections around Lincoln. There are about fifty scattered around town so they’re pretty hard to miss. How many of you thought they were traffic enforcement cameras (aka red light cameras)? They aren’t.

It seems to be a common misconception, although it’s one that has been debunked oodles of times. The cameras are used only for traffic monitoring purposes, not enforcement. You won’t receive a ticket or court summons in the mail if you drive through an intersection on an orange light. Not that you would ever do that, of course.

The only reason I bring this up is that I hear the “red light camera” rumor all the time. Family, friends, strangers, kids, adults—it’s a pervasive myth. It really gets me when I have to explain the truth to the same person repeatedly. (“Nope, they still aren’t red light cameras.”) It wouldn’t be such a bad myth to allow to propagate if there weren’t so much outrage associated with it. Some people get pretty feisty when talking about this imaginary intrusion upon their liberties. (The right to endanger fellow motorists, I guess?) Personally I prefer folks reserve their outrage for actual transgressions. There are plenty of them out there so it’s not like we need to go inventing any fake ones.

Lincoln may some day have red light cameras. If that day comes, I’ll be among the first to chatter about it. For now, though, let’s put this myth to bed.

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The Comments

Stacy January 24, 2011 at 2:27pm

I do not debunk the myth.  I encourage it.  I warn them, while they are trying to run the red light… better stop doing that, you’re going to get caught by the red light cameras.. and I love watching their faces contort into this paranoid and slightly freaked out expression.

I say, encourage the myth.  Shake your head yes when it’s brought up and maybe more people will believe it too and stop running all those damn red lights..  (Lincoln is really bad with red light runners!)

CS January 24, 2011 at 4:36pm

I don’t argue the civil liberty angle, though intersections in other locales where those cameras are placed tend to experience an increase in accidents instead of a decreast.

Mr. Wilson January 24, 2011 at 4:48pm

It tends to depend how the cameras are implemented. Generally there tends to be an increase in minor rear-end accidents, but overall accident severity decreases. That is, more fender-benders (bad), fewer t-bones (good).

Gene January 24, 2011 at 6:02pm

I tell people that they’re equipped with those scanners that are at some airports and the TSA can see through your clothing when you’re going through the light. They charge other people to look at the pictures and that money goes to fund condoms in third world countries and the Antelope Valley project.

rocky January 24, 2011 at 8:48pm

I wonder if increasing the time of yellow lights wouldn’t help.  There are a couple of places in town where, even if you are traveling at a reasonable speed while you enter the intersection on green, if it turns yellow just after you enter, you come dangerously close to being in the “box”  when the light turns to red.  In particular, left turns across large, busy roads are prone to turning red during a perfectly legal and otherwise sensible turn. 
A situation like that can’t be good with people out there racing yellows.  Then again, maybe it wouldn’t make any difference and those people would push through solid yellows even later in the sequence. Maybe a second or two of “all red”  would be the safest solution.

Lisa January 24, 2011 at 10:43pm

I like the idea of “all red” for a second or two a lot. I have to do that on my commute home at one intersection because there is always someone running a light there.

Stacy January 24, 2011 at 11:23pm

See, I’ve not had a light that goes green to red before I even see it go yellow.  Where do these lights exist?

This is a huge pet peeve of mine, because after living in both Dallas and the other side of the river from NYC, Lincoln’s drivers have such a huge flippant attitude towards “red”.  My husband works down town, and counting 2-3 cars going through a very obvious red light is just to much to really feel empathy for anymore.

Peter January 25, 2011 at 7:00pm

I see the same thing daily.  14th and O, 14th and Q, and with both intersections having high pedestrian traffic, it’s all the more dangerous.

But most frustrating is the the LPD doesn’t seem to care.  I know that if a cop sat in a lawn chair at 14th and O, they could issue 100 tickets per day.  That’s not exaggerated.  Someone runs the red on O 2 out of 3 light changes.

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