The Red Light Running Crisis
Is it Intentional?

Office of the Majority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Red Light Running Scam
May 2001


1. Something Funny is Going On



The Report
Summary
1. Something Funny
2. Camera Revenue
3. The Theory
4. The Fact
5. Code Changes
6. Cameras Ineffective
7. Conclusion
8. References


Printed Copy
(200k, PDF format)

View the Documents



A local television station in Beaverton, Oregon (KOIN-TV) discovered the effects of inadequate yellow light times when investigating the red light camera controversy in its area. The following is excerpted from a newscast broadcast February 14, 2001:

ELAINE MURPHY
(reporting):
So it got us to wondering just how this program is working. About how many people are getting tickets and, most importantly, is there something funny about how this is set up?

MURPHY:

So we took out the stopwatch. The yellow here [where there is a red light camera] is three seconds and a fraction. It's a big intersection -- we measured 111 feet across. Yet a few blocks away at 107th and Beaverton-Hillsdale at an intersection measuring a mere 75 feet, the yellow lasts almost a second longer. Why?
LINDA ADLARD
(Beaverton City Official):
I really don't know why that would have a different timing.
MURPHY: We kept checking. The intersection with a camera, a little over three seconds for yellow. The next intersection to the east, four seconds. The one after that, four seconds. And the one after that, and the one after that.
ADLARD: I think probably this is timed this way because of the volume of traffic.
MURPHY: By the way another red light running camera goes into service next Tuesday at Lombard and Allen. The length of yellow? Three seconds. Just thought you'd like to know.


It is clear from this example that there is something funny going on. This jurisdiction has been caught red-handed playing with signal timing on lights that have red light cameras. But that's just the beginning of the story.

To understand why a jurisdiction would do something like this, one needs to know a little more about the incentives behind red light cameras.

View the Video:


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