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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  • 492 Comments
      • 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!
      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 ?
      canienaga
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think cameras at red lights are a good think because I see a large number of people running those red lights. I have also seen accidents as a result of people running red lights. How would those people who vandilized the camers feel if their child was killed by a driver who ran the red light. If drivers know they are getting a ticket for running a red light maybe they won't run it and maybe an accident won't happen. The people who are angry about the cameras should sit back and think about the consequences of the car that runs the red light. Do you want to visit your child or spouse in the morque because of someone running a red light?
      • 3 Years Ago
      if people (gov.) didn't make money off them , would they still have them out there??????
      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?
      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.
      jmeehan102
      • 3 Years Ago
      Remember, the red light cameras are owned by private corporations, and leased by the city. The corporations get the money from the tickets as lease payments.....it does not go to the city. Of course, those corporations donate huge sums to the city officials who approve the placement of the cameras on the street corners. Studies have shown that red light cameras do not improve safety, in fact quite the opposite. Collision rates go up when red light cameras are placed at intersections.
      • 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.
      orleanslaw
      • 3 Years Ago
      I believe that the cameras record the license plate and not the driver. At leastthat used to be the case in New York City. The ticket is issued to the owner of the vehicle for a violation of city code not a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law therefore there are no points on your license with a conviction. The problem is that New York State issued duplicate number on some types of plates. If you are a NY Giants fan and have a "vanity plate" a Buffalo Bills fan or a Syracuse fan may have the same plate number with a different logo. I had a client who had never been to NYC and was a member of the Marine Corp League who was mailed a ticket. When we viewd the picture the plate number matched but the logo couldn't be identified. The car in the picture was a Lincoln. His car was a Pontiac. It took hours of his and my time to get it straightened out.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Another fine example of accidents don't just happen; they're caused by some dumbass fool making stupid decisions. Anything that puts the lives of others at risk is just the continuous increase in the disregard people have for anyone except oneself. In these types of matters, I believe in utilizing the legal system. Yes, it may take a few years, but I have seen these dumbass fools come out of lawsuits barely lucky enough to have the clothes they are wearing.
      Welcome Trey
      • 3 Years Ago
      Get reflective license plate spray.
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