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We’ve at some point in our driving careers, we’ve run a red light. Whether it’s been intentional, “gunning it” to beat the light or just not paying attention when the light changes, let’s admit it. All of us have done it.


Personally, I know from my own experience, I approach intersections that I know have cameras with more caution than those without cameras. I know exactly which intersection it is and I consciously alter my driving habits. Not only am I aware of my own position but I’m also more attentive to those ahead who may suddenly slam on their brakes to avoid triggering the camera.


Public safety measure or scheme to generate revenue? That seems to be the heart of the controversial decision to install red-light cameras at several high collision intersections in Denver.


According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are 106,000 crashes a year in the US involving drivers who ran red lights with 1,000 fatalities and 89,000 injures. Drivers and passengers are injured in 45 percent of the collisions involving a driver who ran a red light.


Critics claim that increasing the length of the yellow light will decrease most red light runners, so cameras are unnecessary.  Some see the cameras as the next step in the “Big Brother” movement of invasion of privacy and loss of civil rights. And red-light cameras have been proven to cause more rear-end accidents according to the Federal Highway Administration.


Proponents cite research that cameras reduce red light runners by 40 percent and the most dangerous of crashes, the broadside or T-bone impact have been reduced by 25 percent.


I believe that having the longer yellow lights have “trained” us in the mentality that in that “go or no-go moment”, we typically speed up to make it through the intersection. Maybe cameras at intersections would “re-train” us to approach intersections with more caution. Because now when we decide to go for it and beat that red light, we just might get caught.


The interesting thing about this debate is both sides have this all or nothing mentality. You either win this debate or you lose it. What about a compromise? Common sense dictates that if you increase the yellow light time you give drivers a better chance to make it through the intersection in that “go, no-go” moment and a camera would catch those of us who choose to go for it when we really should have stopped.


One last thing to consider…cameras at intersections also have the potential to eliminate the “he said, she said” situation at the scene of a car crash. The red-light cameras would provide photographic evidence on who was at fault in the accident. In my opinion, that in itself is worth risking a traffic ticket for running a red light.

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