Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Red is in the Eye of the Beholder....

This morning, while sitting in my comfy chair drinking some form of caffeine, thinking deep thoughts about how long it might take me to adjust to my misplaced DST hour, I was brought to attention with a new commercial.

It is actually a plea of sorts.  Three people that have been in devastating car accidents are asking people to "TEXT RED".  The context of the campaign is to have Missourians text the word red to a  given number to show their endorsement for cameras to be put up at intersections.  These cameras are to capture  pictures of the red light runners.

The three speakers in the commercial all have poignant, heart breaking stories, and I would be texting like a mad woman except, I am not a Missourian.  I live on the Kansas side of this city.  My vote doesn't count over there. 

I am amazed at the ongoing debate over this issue here in Metro KC, though.  Hardly a day goes by that some group isn't campaigning for or against the cameras.  As always, I am a bit conflicted.  The battle within my brain however is clearly stronger on the "I AM FOR IT" side.

Both Kansas Cities (Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO.) already have beau coup cameras in place. This is SO ticking  a whole bunch of people off.  I don't understand how it is against their right to privacy, as they claim.  I also, don't see how it infringes on their civil liberties which they also claim.  The fact, that there are traffic laws that say "STOP ON RED, GO ON GREEN", seem pretty forthright.   It is the law.  So STOP your damn car already when the light is red. 


The one little niggling of a problem I have is this.  A couple of  months ago, I got a letter from the state of Missouri complete with a $113.00 ticket in it.  There were all kinds of directions as to who to make the check out to, where to mail it, and if I choose to contest it who to call within the KC court system.  I, of course, am not loving this letter.  I look to see where I supposedly ran a light.  Frankly, I am even shocked that I would have run through a red light,  because I am that person that tries to always follow the rules.  That is part of my LACK of charm.  I am stuffy by some peoples standards.  Back to the letter... It tells me I ran a light in a section of town here known as Red Bridge.  I am suspicious.... I haven't been to Red Bridge in ... heck, I don't even remember when.  Maybe two years ago.

So, I immediately start yelling at hubby, (so unfair, I know) saying did you use my car and run a red light????
He is vigorously denying running a light while he is yanking the pages of ticket-giving documentation out of my hands.

Of course, he quickly gets to the incriminating proof  that lies on the last page of this ticket o'mine to find the  picture of my car and license plate. (alleged car and license plate) 

Here's the deal....Car in picture IS NOT MINE.  Not even close.  Under the picture there is a web address that says I can go online, using my  ticket number as a password, and  view the incriminating footage of my act of  recklessness.

Which, of course, I do.  What I see on the web site is a dirty (as in needs washed)  law breaking Volvo that blatantly ran the red without so much as a pause. The video is as clear as day in the picture, while the license number is not so clear..  The dirt on the dirty little Volvo is obstructing the robotic reader that is taking a picture of this crappy driver and his vehicle.  Evidently in Missouri, they make a guess and my license plate was close enough.

The black Volvo sedan is now causing my Radiant Red SUV a big ole problem.  Not to mention it is making me cranky.  I follow the directions on the ticket to contest it.   All this bureaucracy because some dirty car and it's driver doesn't get the concept of STOP ON RED, GO ON GREEN.

I fax in the appropriate paperwork and follow up with a phone call to the company that is anxiously waiting for  my $113.00 to arrive in the near future. (which by the way is in Arizona) The person on the phone is clearly thinking I just don't want to pay up but I am insisting that I drive a mid-size red SUV and I didn't run a light.  She wants pictures of my vehicle with  a clear picture of my plates along with my registration that shows the make and model of my car.

OK, this is what the real glory of the Internet is.  I take pictures with my IPhone, download to my computer, email the "less than friendly" person in Arizona all the required information.

She says....We will review your case and get back with you in a couple of weeks.

What?? I have a ticket that is to be paid and according to your paperwork if I don't pay it there are consequences. (the word warrant was in there somewhere).   This is the kind of crap that makes me crazy.

She tells me if it would make me feel better, I could just pay it.  NO THAT WOULD NOT MAKE ME FEEL BETTER. 

I decide to wait it out.  Low and behold a couple weeks later I get another letter.  My case has been dismissed. No explanation (could have said because it wasn't you) no apology (because it wasn't me) not anything except the "case is dismissed."


Of the more than 18,000 tickets issued in KC for red light runners only about 8,000 actually paid the fines.  Surely not all of those ten thousand were mistakes.  What is wrong with this system??? KCTV5 said in a recent broadcast that 57 percent of the time there are no consequence to running through a red light here.

The Good for the Day.... Efforts made to keep people safer.

The Bad for the Day...Bureaucratic glitches that cause people time and effort to get messes straightened out. Oh, and ineffectual programs that don't do what they are designed to do.

The Weird for the day... Why are we all in such a hurry???


Liggy said...

Our city installed those red light cameras at a major intersection a few months ago. It's good because it is a busy area for traffic as well as pedestrians. It took time for people as well as the city to get used to it or have it running properly though. At first, the timing of the light changing was so "off" that just approaching the intersection was stressful to a point that you'd fear it would turn red right when you got there. It's been fixed though so it runs properly and without creating that undue stress. I've heard from people who got their red light speeding tickets in the mail - and they admitted to being guilty - so I know it works. If only more people respected traffic rules in the first place though, these costly measures wouldn't be needed in the first place, I think! Oh well!!!

barbara said...

Hey Cheryl, I wonder if the cameras in Arizona are run by a company in Kansas? But I must correct you, we have mostly lovely nice people here in Arizona except in the summertime. Then all the people that live in the desert get really mean and cranky. Good thing you didn't get that ticket in August, lol. You mentioned in one of your blogs that you lived in Flagstaff once. Is that when you were a kid? It's a nice place for kids to grow up. But not for adults to live and work in. Too expensive.

Wolfbernz said...

Hi Cheryl,

Gosh and I thought I was the only one that had to go through things like this. I have to agree with you though, if they are going to use the cameras and spend so much money to install them and send tickets, they should work on making the system work a little bit better to not only make it effective but also to keep people like you from having to go though the aggravation of this sort of thing.

Clicks for you!

Trina said...

Cameras at stop lights are great. I despise people so run red lights without a thought. I am sorry you had to go through so much but I can only hope that fewer people have to go through so much trouble.


Anonymous said...

They used to have freeway speed cameras all over the place in Arizona and the word on the street was to ignore the first letter and not pay unless you got a summons. Apparently, many people never did (I did, by the way). Eventually, they were taken down, I think because not enough people were paying. Regarding misidentification of cars, chances are the photos are read by computers (subject to errors) or disinterested public employees (subject to errors). As a long time designer of systems like this for the military, I'll tell you that nearly errorless systems like this are much more expensive that local governments can afford. I'm afrai8d if you want automatic enforcement, some mistakes go with it.

Sorry to go on. Click.


AngelBaby said...

I hate those red light cameras! I got one of those tickets and they are almost $500.00 not counting traffic school! I am usually a very careful driver and I don't like running red lights but the one time I do I get caught by that stupid camera! They cause a lot of accidents too so are they really safer?

Love and Blessings,

Jayne said...

Cheryl - I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog. We're kindred spirits, for I am also seriously conflited and middle-aged (well, a bit beyond it, I must confess). If I could vote YES, I would. But I'm in New England, so my vote also does not count for much. Though, I think it's a good idea to take this notion nationwide.
Nice work here - I'll be following. ;)

Cperz said...

Hi Jayne,

So glad you found my blog!!!

It really is funny that half the people that sent emails yesterday were "I hate those damn things. So unfair blah..blah..blah..


The other half were sanctimonious. "I would never run a light, so all the red light runner loser deserve it". Rant...rant..rant

You are my kindred spirit!!!! I love that you aren't vehement on the pro or con but just nicely in the "can see it from both sides" soft spot.

I love that!!!

Email me anytime with your conflictions. I am sure we share some.


barbara said...

Hey Cheryl, I wonder if the cameras in Arizona are run by a company in Kansas? But I must correct you, we have mostly lovely nice people here in Arizona except in the summertime. Then all the people that live in the desert get really mean and cranky. Good thing you didn't get that ticket in August, lol. You mentioned in one of your blogs that you lived in Flagstaff once. Is that when you were a kid? It's a nice place for kids to grow up. But not for adults to live and work in. Too expensive.