Running Red Lights

RUNNING RED LIGHTS….Today in the LA Times, Michael Klein takes aim at the important issue of traffic cameras that are mounted at intersections in order to ticket people who run red lights. These cameras, he thinks, have many, many grave problems:

  • The ticket might get lost by the post office! Two words, Michael: registered mail.

  • Maybe the owner of the car wasn’t actually driving it! Maybe. And if you can convince the judge of that, you’re off the hook.

  • If you get a ticket days after a violation happens, you’ve already forgotten the circumstances! That might wash for some other kinds of violations, but running a red light? Offhand I can’t think of a single extenuating circumstance. (But maybe my commenters can help Michael out! Just try to avoid scenarios involving UFOs, OK?)

  • It’s an invasion of privacy! Hmmm, outdoors, pointed specifically at a single place, and used for a specific purpose? I don’t think so. There is a danger here, but complaints about traffic cameras trivialize a more important problem: not the cameras themselves, but how long the pictures are kept, how they are indexed, and who they are available to.

I believe that some amount of looseness in law enforcement is vital to a free society. It would be genuinely chilling if every minor violation of the law were caught and prosecuted with 100% efficiency.

But why do I get the feeling that most people who complain about traffic cameras are actually just people who routinely push their luck at intersections and are afraid of getting caught? Is it because their principled arguments always strike me as completely lame?

Yeah, that’s it.

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