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Cameras catch nearly 300 running red lights

Friday, September 4, 2009 | 1:55 p.m. CDT; updated 2:10 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 4, 2009

COLUMBIA — As of Friday, anyone caught on camera running a red light at one of two Columbia intersections can expect a $120 ticket in the mail.

At a news conference Friday morning at the Daniel Boone City Building, Mayor Darwin Hindman and Police Chief Ken Burton announced the end of a 25-day grace period during which the cameras were working but no citations were issued.

"Those of you interested in running a red light, today is not the day to do it. Nor is any other day," Hindman said.

Cameras are in place at Broadway and Providence Road and at Stadium Boulevard and Worley Street. Between Aug. 5 and Aug. 31, the cameras recorded a total of 296 violations; 63 were tossed out. A violation can be rejected if the quality of the picture is poor or if there is an obvious gender mismatch between the person driving a vehicle and the person to whom the vehicle is registered. The most common cause of poor image quality is sun glare.

Gatso USA, the company that installs and operates the cameras, is the first to review each violation, said Toni Messina, spokeswoman for the city of Columbia.

"Gatso does a first cut. They look at everything captured by cameras then they forward what they determine to be violations," Messina said. The Police Department conducts its own review before sending out citations. Gatso gets $41 of each $120 fine.

Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said Friday morning that the city expects to have 16 cameras in place over the next 14 months. "We hope they'll be very close to complete by about this time next year."

The cameras in place now cover only northbound traffic.

St. Romaine said that the city has yet to decide where else it will place cameras but that the most dangerous intersections will be targeted.
Burton said that the cameras are first and foremost about safety.

"What we're hoping is that the red light cameras will make people more cautious at all intersections, not just where the red light cameras are," Burton said.

The increase in citations is expected to create a lot of work for the municipal court, where clerk Shara Meyer said the city already had seen an increase in traffic citations even before the cameras were installed. Meyer said the citation rate stayed steady for the first six months of the year but jumped by nearly 1,000 for the month of July. Red light cameras could add to that.

St. Romaine said the number of violations is significant. "If the trend continues, there could be a demand for additional people."

Burton said he'd rather see people obey the law than write a bunch of tickets. "We're hoping they won't have much work to do. We prefer that people actually obey and won't run the red light."


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Comments

Ray Shapiro September 4, 2009 | 2:57 p.m.

"Cameras catch nearly 300 running red lights...."
My guess is that most of these were due to the flow of traffic and the manner in which the lights are timed.
I honestly believe that if an officer witnessed or spoke to many of these "red light runners" there'd be an understandable reason for this happening.
(We can also expect more accidents as a result of these cameras.)
There is obviously more concern for municipal and penal system cash flow then safety. (Including MV lawyers, let alone the profits from the vendor who is given the contract to provide these cameras.)
This town is becoming more and more car-unfriendly all the time.
Thanks for nothing, Columbia.

(Report Comment)
John Mier September 4, 2009 | 3:27 p.m.

I propose a large notification sign be positioned a half-block from these monitored intersections stating a camera is in use. Fair is fair, no?
(Good story, well structured.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 4, 2009 | 5:48 p.m.

If you are willing to run a red light then you are willing to pay the fines too.

These fines should be increased as more violations are compounded if the driver in question violates multiple times in a 6 month period.

Failure to pay those fines is said to result in some drastic measures which is a good thing but those measures must be enforced.

(Report Comment)
Phillip Berrong September 4, 2009 | 6:56 p.m.

I'm not sure if this has been changed, but when St Louis put their cameras up, the Riverfront Times ran a story about how, under state law, the punishment for not paying was nothing. No bench warrant issued, so collection agency contacted. Freeman Bosley wrote a bill to change it, but I never heard if it passed.

(Report Comment)
Phillip Berrong September 4, 2009 | 6:58 p.m.

I'm not sure if this has been changed, but when St Louis put their cameras up, the Riverfront Times ran a story about how, under state law, the punishment for not paying was nothing. No bench warrant issued, no collection agency contacted. Freeman Bosley wrote a bill to change it, but I never heard if it passed.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 4, 2009 | 9:39 p.m.

John, the city's ordinance authorizing the red light cameras state that there must be a sign prior to the monitored intersection (I think 300' prior is the distance). Anyone know if those are up yet?

(Report Comment)
Lawrence Lile September 4, 2009 | 9:42 p.m.

I hope the next camera goes up on Clark Lane near Home Depot. People regularly enter that intersection with no room to go through, creating gridlock when the light turns. It ain't legal to enter the intersection if you can't make it through, and a few $120 stings might reinforce that idea.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 5, 2009 | 5:40 a.m.

ray wrote:

"This town is becoming more and more car-unfriendly all the time."

Good. Cars are not our friends.

DK

(Report Comment)
Bruce Smith September 5, 2009 | 11:44 a.m.

Mark; You could not survive without automobiles. Even if you don't use one, everything you need for survival is transported by trucks or cars. I don't think I have ever seen a grocery store receive its products from a bicycle deliverer. This town has gone completely overboard with bicyclist rights. The latest dumbest thing is the green astroturf on Forum. Whoever came up with that is beyond description.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 5, 2009 | 12:58 p.m.

("The latest dumbest thing is the green astroturf on Forum.")
Saw that ugly thing the other day.
Thought it was mold or gutter Chia pets.
Between sharrows and green fuzz, cyclists have bad taste in accessorizing this town.

(Report Comment)
Jack G September 5, 2009 | 3:19 p.m.

Can we please ticket bicyclists that run stop signs? Seems like half of them don't understand that car rules are bike rules.

(Report Comment)
Tim Donahoe September 5, 2009 | 3:49 p.m.

Can we please revoke the licenses of people that nearly kill me in their cars while I am cycling? Seems like half of the people that drive in this town drive like a blind 12 year old.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 5, 2009 | 4:05 p.m.

>>> Jack G September 5, 2009 | 3:19 p.m.
Can we please ticket bicyclists that run stop signs? Seems like half of them don't understand that car rules are bike rules. <<<

I prefer impounding and sales myself and the funds generated be put towards bicycle education programs instead of our tax dollars like SpendAboutColumbia is wasting away now.

(Report Comment)
Daisy Obrien September 5, 2009 | 5:23 p.m.

Are these lights Constitutional?
Are the Gatso USA employees who review the video even law enforcement officers? They are enforcing the law and deciding if a law was broken or not.

How are we to be assured this (read below) isn't going to happen to us?

"Nashville also is suspected of shortening yellow light duration. In 2006, Nashville resident Joe Savage clocked inconsistent durations of yellow lights in the Capital City. The Nashville Scene later confirmed his findings. Not surprisingly, Tennessee has plenty of company. Other communities around the country – including Springfield, Missouri; Lubbock and Dallas, Texas; and Union City, California – face similar charges." read more at the link below

http://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2008/09...

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 5, 2009 | 7:08 p.m.

Daisy Obrien it's a no brainer. Do not break traffic laws and you have nothing to worry about.

So easy a caveman can do it. :)

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 5, 2009 | 7:46 p.m.

Chuck, Daisy has a good point if the city shortened yellow lights, especially if they were lights that had the cameras and nearby signals on the same street did not see such an adjustment. The best way for Daisy to determine that would be to time the yellows to ensure they are consistent up and down Providence and Stadium near where those cameras are, something I've been considering as recommended by http://www.shortyellowlights.com/ - another option would be to make a Sunshine Request to MODOT regarding the timing of the lights they control.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 6, 2009 | 4:51 a.m.

John Schultz many many citizens have requested I am sure the re-timing of all of the lights across this city. I am sure they requested longer timings so they can run their red lights even more.

It really comes down to responsible driving if you have a drivers license and are actually in full control over your vehicle.

That means not squawking on your cell phone,doing make up,trimming your nose hairs and other things.

Yes I agree on a set standard across the city as far as the Yellow timing goes but that WILL DO NOT GOOD AT ALL unless drivers take responsibility for themselves.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 6, 2009 | 5:57 a.m.

Bruce Smith wrote:

"Mark; You could not survive without automobiles. Even if you don't use one, everything you need for survival is transported by trucks or cars. "

Of course I could. Most of the world does. And trucks, trains, and barges are a very different thing from cars, especially the way we use them in this country.

The automobile is simply the most destructive tool ever invented. We spend nearly as much on our cars as we do on health care, and part of the reason we spend so much on health care is because of cars. We accept a death rate from cars that would be unthinkable from any other technology, or condition.

If people looked at their cars as a transport of last resort, we could stop buying Venezuelan, Mexican, and Saudi oil, save hundreds of billions of dollars on road construction and maintenance, and set an example for China and India, who are getting ready to become car addicts themselves. World oil supplies will be insufficient to fuel another billion cars, and the resulting high prices and shortages will affect all of us.

Any efforts toward alternative transportation are simply efforts toward sustainable transportation. BTW, there are groceries where produce is transported by bicycle, and there could be a lot more of them if we tried:

http://www.culturechange.org/cms/index.p...

DK

(Report Comment)
Holli Carr September 6, 2009 | 12:26 p.m.

Regardless of whether cars are good things, I fail to see why making people obey laws that make for fair and safe usage of the road is unfriendly toward cars.
It's a simple concept that most kindergartners get. You have to take turns. People who are running the red light are going out of turn, and in many cases also preventing others from having a turn by blocking the intersection.
If people would voluntarily be considerate and patiently wait their turn, society wouldn't have to impose rules and consequences for the breaking of those rules.

(Report Comment)
Phillip Berrong September 6, 2009 | 4:26 p.m.

Mr. Dudley,
I've read your postings on a number of subjects, and I must applaud your consistency. Anytime there is a question of overbearing enforcement of laws, you give the same advice, "Follow the rules and you'll be fine."
Unfortunately, we will not always follow the rules, and we are resistant to rules which we fear will be difficult to follow. If a city shortens a yellow light, it is they who are breaking rules, not us. The focus oughtn't be on punishing those who break petty city ordinances, but focusing on how we can live together harmoniously.

"I am sure they requested longer timings so they can run their red lights even more."

Think a little longer on this one, Charles. A longer yellow would make it more difficult to run the red, since you'd have to wait longer, and statistically, the light would be red a smaller percentage of the time. Running red lights is not a recreational activity for subversive Columbians. The point of longer timings is obviously to prevent vehicles from entering the intersection once the light has turned red.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 6, 2009 | 5:14 p.m.

Phillip Berrong is there a national standard on just how long the Yellow's are to be displayed? Or is it up to the individual city and it's needs?

Obviously Columbia has some rather dumb drivers if so many are getting tickets yearly for running red lights wouldn't you say so?

Now we have these new red light cameras and we all know those numbers will go up alot and thus prove my point above further unless those dumb drivers actually take responsibility and accountability for their driving actions that obviously they have not been doing by the amount of tickets issued in the past and those expected in the futire.

Follow the rules of the road and you will not have to worry about getting those tickets. It is that simple.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 6, 2009 | 5:48 p.m.

Chuck wrote:

"Phillip Berrong is there a national standard on just how long the Yellow's are to be displayed?"

Yes. Between three and six seconds, depending on speed limit and grade.

http://www.copradar.com/preview/redlight...

Most of our roads have 5 second yellows.

DK

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 6, 2009 | 6:22 p.m.

Mark Foecking ok so drivers should have no issues then with these timings at all unless they are not paying attention to what is going on around them while driving.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield September 6, 2009 | 6:49 p.m.

Chuck, I wish you would learn and follow basic grammar rules. Your posts are very tiring to read. Please spend less time posting on here and more time learning fundamentals such as the role of commas and the difference between "it's" and its." When you have mastered basic grammar, people will be more inclined to take you seriously.

You're welcome.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 6, 2009 | 7:43 p.m.

Jimmy Bearfield one word to you "cry".

You're welcome.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield September 6, 2009 | 8:18 p.m.

Lesson No. 1: Periods go inside quotation marks.

The comma is your friend, Chuck. Do not fear it.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 6, 2009 | 8:43 p.m.

Jimmy Bearfield wow you can spell. Did you ever think about being a brain surgeon too?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield September 6, 2009 | 9:42 p.m.

No, but I do go to work five days a week.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 7, 2009 | 4:52 a.m.

Jimmy Bearfield amazing and so do I.

How many hours of volunteering/community service work do you do each week to help your fellow citizens in the community you live in? I bet it is not as many hours and days as I do. :)

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 7, 2009 | 9:22 p.m.

Chuck, are you claiming you put in 40+ hours of paid work per week, in addition to your various volunteer activities?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 8, 2009 | 4:34 a.m.

John Schultz no I said I bet I volunteer more hours than he does weekly.

Between volunteering for the Paquin Tower Resident Association daily,Park & Recreation at Paquin Tower when asked through out the day,C.H.A. asks me to do volunteer work once in a while daily and helping various residents through out the day 7 days a week as needed and on call of sorts I bet I do more volunteer/community service work in one location on a daily basis than your average volunteer and all of that work involves alot more stress than your average daily job as I volunteer and help at risk individuals with often times severe disabilities of their own. That takes alot of tolerance and patients which alot of people do not have.

Nice try John on the play on words.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield September 8, 2009 | 7:29 a.m.

Then you are capable of working a full-time job.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 8, 2009 | 10:28 a.m.

Chuck, Jimmy said:

"No, but I do go to work five days a week."

and you responded with:

"Jimmy Bearfield amazing and so do I.

How many hours of volunteering/community service work do you do each week to help your fellow citizens in the community you live in? I bet it is not as many hours and days as I do. :)"

That made it sound like you have an actual job in addition to your volunteer etc. work.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 8, 2009 | 10:56 a.m.

Jimmy Bearfield not with my stress level breaking point I am not and my Psychiatrist will testify to that in any court of law. In being able to volunteer my time as I do I choose my breaks away from people and the work to be able to stay focused as I do. That is a huge difference in my life and my recovery plan as lined out by my doctors. I'll take their advise over yours or anybody elses any day.

FYI I just got back from the CMFB helping one of my elderly and disabled neighbors who has a very bad knee get his groceries from there and helped him on and off the CHA van and into the building. Now onward to see who else might need help today.

Oh and this has all been hashed out here by far better debaters than you will ever hope to be Jimmy Bearfield and if you are so worried about my personal life instead of concentrating on your own what does that really say about you as a person?

Not much to nothing in my book that is for sure.

(Report Comment)

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