A man wearing a monkey mask, who may or may not be Dave... A man wearing a monkey mask, who may or may not be Dave VonTesmar, drives Dave VonTesmar's Subaru WRX. (Arizona Department of Public Safety).
Citizens are striking back at Big Brother by vandalizing red light cameras and even shooting the lenses out with guns. One notorious vigilante has even beat the system by wearing Halloween masks.

And while some cities are responding, by banning or eliminating the cameras, others are beefing up their systems.

On Wednesday the AP reported Houston became the most recent U.S. city to ban red light cams, on the coattails of Los Angeles, which had a similar decision last month. But the surveillance devices are widespread in Washington, D.C., and set to increase in New York.

Cameras are currently used in 540 communities across 26 states, the Insurance Institue For Highway Safety reports. But a dozen cities and nine states have bans on the cameras.

One place they're going strong is New York City, where they've existed since 1993. Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated earlier this week a belief that such devices should be on every corner in the city. Considering the profit-motive, who could blame him for the push? New York City took in $52 million in fines from drivers caught by its 150 red light cameras (with an additional $3 million from penalties), the New York Daily News reported.

Bloomberg wants to boost the number of cameras up to 225. Outside the city limits, citizens are opposed to red-light cameras.

Last summer in Nassau County, the cameras were attacked by vigilantes. The vandals spray-painted 14 cameras and damaged the antenna of one so that it could not send images properly.

While local tax revenue is down with the recession and housing crisis, local governments see cameras as an important revenue generator.

Ticket revenue is like free money for governments, because they don't pay to have the cameras installed. Private companies supply the cameras and take a slice of the revenue from the fines collected. That incentive has led to some lawsuits where plaintiffs have proven that some cameras have shorter yellow-light durations than state law requirements in order to catch drivers running red lights and boost ticket revenue.
Are red light cameras an invasion of privacy?
Yes 17770 (70.4%)
No 7465 (29.6%)


L.A. was unable to have the Los Angeles County Superior Court enforce payments on tickets and had about 65,000 unpaid tickets last month.

Some citizens see the cameras as infringement on personal privacy and symptomatic of dangers on an ever technology-laden road -- complete with E-ZPass transponder trackers and vulnerable cell phone data.

Dave VonTesmar tries to make a point about the cameras by dressing in a monkey mask and then intentionally racing past photo radar devices in Arizona. The move helped him get out of tickets.

"There is no proof that I am the driver in all of these photos," VonTesmar told ABC 15, a Phoenix radio station.

Sometimes the backlashes turn violent. In 2007, Clifford E. Clark III, a 47-year-old who had run a red light, returned to the same location a few hours later to shoot the camera with a hunting rifle. He was charged with felony vandalism and reckless endangerment.

This explosive response is a measure against what as been seen as merely a money-making scheme. It's unclear if the cameras help stop fatal accidents. While the 2% of fatal accidents resulting from blown red lights are relatively rare, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, stopping short also causes crashes. Some studies have shown that cars fearing red light cameras have been increasingly rear-ended, having stopped suddenly to avoid burning a yellow.

Bottom-line: Cash, not safety, seems to be dictating law enforcement support for red light cams. As a movement for their increased prevalence grows, the backlash could become more intense.


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  • 493 Comments
      pdgrovebaskets
      • 3 Years Ago
      They need to change the law that if the driver is unidentifiable then the owner of the vehicle is responsible for all fines and charges. Or, just make it illegal to drive with a mask on. It's a safety hazard if nothing else. You can't tell me that their vision isn't impared. I've had enough mask on for Halloween over my life to know it DRASTICALLY limits your vision. People think they're being such a smart ass, it'll back fire on them one day. I can't stand those who think they're above obeying the laws like everyone else does. They need to remember - what goes around comes around. They'll pay for this one day.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Omg. A Yellow arrow caused me to be Slammed Head on by a Truck, w/ multiple injuries. :( Not my fault, and he was drunk. They didn't even chk to c if he was drinking. Couldn't sue Him. I hope God remembrs this. --and the Car was demolished. If I ever c that Guy again... BUT I'M ALIVE! w a bad back, neck, legs.
      quintondall
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't see the problem. If everybody obeyed the driving laws these things would not be cash cows. They would bring in almost zero Dollars. The only people complaining are those that seem to not care about the rules of the road. They are common place in many other first world countries. You play, you pay. This is just technology being used for the law like you would use it for anything else. Stop hiding behing all the "big brother" stories and the like.
      • 3 Years Ago
      DO NOT RUN A RED LIGHT AND YOU WILL NOT GET A TICKET. WHAT IF YOU RAN A RED LIGHT AND KILLED SOMEONE ?
      • 3 Years Ago
      The contractor installing the cameras has to interface with the stoplight controller. The next thing that occurs is the manipulation of the length of the yellow light...This will generate more revenues and tail-end collisions.. The burg of League City, Texas got caught with this scam and had to cough up a lot of money. Traffic engineers use a formula that is based on the traffic speed to insure the yellow light is sufficient to allow the intersection to clear safely. Many places the length is a state standard or even statute.. Check the lenth of the yellows. The good citizens of Houston ran this scam out of town, as did the nice folks in College Station. I suspect may parents generation would have simply shot the damm things off the poles..They had spent their youth defeating the Nazi and Japanese police states and probably wouldn't have too much time for this foolishness..
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's a cash generator for local govts. It's been proven by researchers that these devices are unsafe for drivers at the intersections they are placed. My son ran one with an illegal right turn, several times over a period of weeks, in a truck registered to me. Of course the photo copies started coming in and I got a big laugh (NOT). I got the truck put in my son's name and called the photo enforcement people. They informed me I would be financially responsible for the tickets since the truck was registared in my name. I told them to send a "jack boot thug" to collect and until they could prove that I was the driver to forget it. They forgot it!
        emp9
        • 1 Month Ago

        bozo they give tickets often when many are not running red lights but simply a little over the crosswalk lines.  it is dangerous because now we have to slam on our brakes to avoid a ticket and the car behind could slam into the back of ours.

      bellrc00
      • 3 Years Ago
      These cameras are ridiculous!! We have one in our town that is a mobile radar detector and they mail you speeding tickets! You can't pay the fine at the local sherriff's office, you have to mail it to another state! How is this even a valid ticket? Did I get to check the last reading? Do I know for sure if they got me and not the car behind me? When was the last time it was calibrated? They could not answer any of these questions yet if I refused to pay my licence would be suspended! Bull!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Germans got around the mask problem years ago with a law that gave a huge fine to the owner of the vehicle for "permitting irresponsible peiople to operate your motor vehicle." End of mask problem.
      baydolphins2003n
      • 3 Years Ago
      not sure why cameras are an issue for so many...don't speed, don't go through red lights, don't do @#$% you aren't supposed to be doing, then who cares?
      yearthedragon
      • 3 Years Ago
      in training for a neighborhood crime watxh we were taught that traffic violations are a misdemeaor crime. For enforcrment of a misdemeanor crime , the officer issuing the citation or arrest , in some cases, must have witnessed the violation in person. How can that be done using a camera to see the violation?????
      • 3 Years Ago
      There is a SIMPLE solution to this...DON'T RUN A RED LIGHT OR SPEED AND YOU WON'T GET A TICKET! stop bitching about it! It's amazing how arrogant you people are...its just a camera, dont do anything STUPID and you won't get a ticket in the mail....DUH!
      patardugno
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they draw violence, ...it's better that it is caught on tape!!! Keep the cameras, & install more!!
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